Staying healthy in pregnancy is important and if you develop gestational diabetes in pregnancy you have more to think about. To sum it up briefly, gestational diabetes (GD) is a condition that affects your blood sugar levels. Your body does not produce enough insulin to control your levels and as a result your blood sugar levels will end up high. One of the risks of having gestational diabetes is that your baby can grow large, causing problems with the birth. Therefore it is important to be screened and and receive help with controlling it if necessary.
I have experienced gestational diabetes with both my pregnancies. With my first pregnancy, it was picked up at the routine screening in the final trimester. With my second I was immediately referred to the diabetes team to be checked and was diagnosed with it at 12 weeks.
Having gestational diabetes is not the end of the world. Yes it is confusing, and often frustrating; especially when you cannot eat what you want, but it is manageable. Some women are able to manage GD with diet and exercise alone. I was able to do this with my first pregnancy.However, with my second pregnancy I needed a bit more help and ended up on medication.
If you are diagnosed with GD you will be monitored closely throughout your pregnancy, especially towards the end. You will be required to test your blood sugar levels with a home monitoring system (be prepared for sore fingers!) and you will have extra appointments and scans to check how you are dealing with GD and check your baby’s growth.
The important thing to do is to seek help if you are unsure what to do and what to eat. You should be given access to a dietitian who can talk to you about what you should eat. With GD you have to control the carbohydrates you eat and ensure you eat protein. I had so much chicken in my second pregnancy that I felt like I was going to turn into a chicken myself!! It was the one thing I could eat as much as I wanted without it affecting my blood sugar levels too much. Good thing I liked roast chicken!
It is also about trial and error. Some foods may work for some with GD but won’t for others. Don’t be disheartened if you are being careful about what you
are eating but your levels are still sky high. It took me a number of weeks before I got more confident about the foods I ate. Furthermore make sure you do some light exercise daily. You may be able to control your levels with diet and exercise, but if not then you will need extra help by taking medication. Your medication may also be increased as your pregnancy progresses
You will also need to be tested after you have had the baby to ensure that the diabetes has gone. In the majority of cases it does. However you are at higher risk of developing diabetes at a later stage, therefore it is a good idea to continue with exercises and eat healthily. On the plus side, by being so conscious of what I ate during my pregnancy I had no weight to lose at the end of it all as I didn’t put on any. I also felt so much healthier as I was not eating so much junk as normal!