It was no surprise to me, I got diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes at week eight of my pregnancy. Most people are just finding out they are pregnant around week six and here I am, already throwing a whole wrench in the journey by week 8. Im no stranger to pregnant with gestational diabetes as I had it with Henry as well. I was tested early because my initial A1C levels were high. And let me just say, this is going to be a long road ahead.
If you have had babies then you already know, typically after week 24 or so you have to take a glucose test. They have you fast and then drink this overly sugary Gatorade type drink and test your blood sugar after an hour. If you fail that, (meaning your blood sugar levels are too high) you have to do it again. Except this time, they do it for three hours. Testing your sugar after each hour. Or if you are me, send you straight to the three hour test because they know there Is no way in hell you are going to pass the one hour one.
Welp, they had me take the test this time around at week 7 and got the call from the doctor at week 8 that I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes… again! My first pregnancy I was diagnosed at about 11 weeks.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
Basically what this means is that as the placenta grows, your body cant keep up with the insulin production to keep your blood sugar levels within range. Which in turn can cause damage to the babies brain function and spinal cord, as well as bigger babies at birth. Under a strict diet, blood sugar checks and in some cases, with the help of insulin injections, this can all be prevented. To find out more about Gestational Diabetes head to The March of Dimes website.
How to Treat Gestational Diabetes
So typically, Gestational Diabetes can be controlled by diet. A diet heavy in fiber and protein, low in carbohydrates and sugars. So for me, this meant cutting out things like pizza, toast, pasta, sushi and basically everything I LOVE to eat on the regular! There is a bit of counting carbs and balance that you try to achieve. For me, I eat a diet heavy in healthy proteins and lots and lots of veggies.
Exercise and staying active is also a major contributing factor in your blood sugar levels. Taking a walk or doing something active after a meal can help to lower your blood sugar levels after eating carbohydrates or sugars. With this being said, I had to switch up my workout routine. I could no longer wake up and work out first thing in the morning because the exercise would potentially drop my blood sugar levels too low. I now have to eat something before I work out to make sure I am keeping my blood sugar within range.
To track all of this, I test my blood sugar levels 4-5 times per day. I need to always test my fasting blood sugar which is first thing in the morning. And then I check one hour after each meal and snack I eat throughout the day. This is done with a small prick of the finger to produce a blood sample and placed onto a testing strip. The strip is then placed in a meter that reads my blood sugar level. The goal is to have this under 140 within an hour of eating.
What else to expect
There is so many things that can happen with diabetes. With Gestational Diabetes you want to make sure that your blood sugar levels aren’t too high, causing baby to grow bigger. But you can also experience low blood sugars which cause shakiness, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea, fainting, and diabetic shock amongst other things. In this case, your body is craving glucose and the quickest way to bring your levels up is to drink something with sugar. Orange juice is usually the go to when your sugar levels drop. This, while not as damaging to baby long term, is very dangerous in the short term. In this case I ALWAYS make sure to have extra snacks on hand. I always make sure to carry a granola bar or something with me in case I feel a low blood sugar coming on.
Diet may also not always be enough to control gestational diabetes. As the baby grows, your body has a harder and harder time keeping up with the insulin production for you and baby. Which in turn can result in more frequent high blood sugars. In this case, insulin injections may be necessary to keep your blood sugar levels with in range. I had to use insulin shots with Henry so I expect this pregnancy will be the same down the road. This didn’t happen for me with Henry until my third trimester. And then I started with one shot per day, and up to three towards the end of my pregnancy.
As stated before, Gestational Diabetes is sometimes difficult to manage. But with the proper checks and balances, a majority of risks to the baby can be prevented. It’s not always easy, but is manageable.
As my pregnancy progresses, I will continue to update you all on my journey! So far it hasn’t been so bad… just a lot of really missing some of my favorite foods!
I’m no expert but I hope this helps you to understand Gestational Diabetes a bit better. And I always want to be the best resource I can, to help others who may be going through this as well. As always, I’m an open book when it comes to all this so please don’t ever hesitate to reach out with questions. I don’t have all the answers, but can do my best to guide you in the right direction or just give you support in your journey.