Gestational Diabetes Ideas to Help Baby
My Experience with Gestational Diabetes
I am not a health care professional, merely a mother who was diagnosed with gestational diabetes twice. My first baby was 9lb 6oz and I was not diagnosed. My second baby was 10lb 8oz and I was diagnosed. The illness was controlled through diet and oral medications. My last baby was 10lb 9oz and I was diagnosed sooner into my pregnancy. The illness was controlled through diet and insulin injections.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is an illness that arises during pregnancy when a woman's body is not able to produce and use insulin appropriately. Although there is no concrete proof of the cause of gestational diabetes, many healthcare professionals believe the answer lies within the placenta. The placenta produces hormones that nourish the baby and hormones that block the actions of insulin to prevent the mother from getting low blood sugar. Usually, the pancreas will produce more insulin to compensate for the blocked insulin actions. If the pancreas is unable to compensate appropriately, blood sugar levels rise and gestational diabetes is diagnosed. Your doctor will screen for gestational diabetes anywhere between 6 and 7 months of pregnancy, if no other problems develop sooner. Your OB/GYN will ask you to drink a sugary beverage and will test your blood sugar levels shortly after. If your levels are abnormal, you will be asked to perform the test again at a later appointment. The second time you will drink the same sugary beverage after fasting for 24 hours. Your blood will be taken again and your blood sugar will be checked. If your blood sugar levels are abnormal again, you will likely be diagnosed with gestational diabetes. The glucose drink is a very thick and sweet substance that may cause you to gag when drinking it. The best method is to take huge gulps and get it done and over with. My doctor's office offered grape, orange, and cola flavors.
What Are the Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes?
Several conditions increase the chances of developing gestational diabetes. The risk factors include being overweight before getting pregnant, a family history of diabetes, having previously had gestational diabetes in another pregnancy, and having given birth to a large baby in a previous pregnancy. However, some women develop gestational diabetes without ever falling into a high risk category. I increased my risk of getting gestational diabetes by gaining way too much weight during my first pregnancy and giving birth to a baby over 9 pounds.
How Will Gestational Diabetes Affect My Baby?
A diagnosis of gestational diabetes can cause you great concern, and understandably so. You are creating life's most precious miracle and the last thing you want is a major complication. However, controlling your blood sugar greatly decreases the chance of complications from the illness. One common complication arising from gestational diabetes that is diagnosed in the 2nd and 3rd trimester is a large baby. While a large baby may signify a healthy baby to some, a baby who is too big may have difficulty expanding his or her lungs after birth. The baby may also face a traumatic birth if he or she is too large and vaginal birth is attempted. Another complication is that the baby may be born with very high blood sugar levels. Once the baby is born, he or she is no longer receiving high insulin levels from mom and may not be as prepared for the additional glucose in his or her blood. However, you can still deliver a healthy baby after being diagnosed with gestational diabetes if you take care of yourself properly.
What Dietary Changes Should I Make?
One of the first tips my OB/GYN gave me when he diagnosed me with gestational diabetes was to stop eating anything white. That included white bread, white pasta, white flour, and anything else made with sugar or white flour. I was also told to cut way back on juices and only drink diet sodas. Then I was sent to a nutritionist to learn how to eat a diabetic diet for my baby's health. You will find yourself eating more green and leafy vegetables and more lean meats while eating less sugar and fewer carbohydrates. I recommend seeing a nutritionist to learn how to eat better while coping with gestational diabetes. However, I will let you in on some dietary tips I figured out through my own ordeal that many women many not know, especially if they never had to deal with diabetes before.
- All fruits raise your blood sugar, although they do so differently.
- Some vegetables raise your blood sugar such as peas, carrots, corn, and potatoes.
- Many fast food restaurants offer diabetic-friendly options such as salads and chili.
- Fruit juice turns into 100% sugar after you consume the daily recommended amount.
- Regular diabetic recipes also double well as gestational diabetes recipes
Using Insulin Medication or Injections
If your doctor starts you on oral medications, take them at the same time every day to help your body learn when it will receive the medicine. Your doctor will help you know the best methods for taking your prescribed medication. If your doctor starts you on insulin injections, do not despair. It is easier to give yourself a shot than you may think, especially when you realize it is in your baby's best interest. Also, the needles are so thin that they truly don't hurt at all.
Some tips I learned along the way are:
- Don't hesitate. When you choose your injection site, go for it! I would frequently hesitate and "stutter" the needle into my leg, resulting in more pokes than necessary. Also, the faster you do it, the less likely it will hurt.
- If you have older children, don't let them watch you give yourself the injection because it could traumatize them. My now-7-year-old still talks about the shot I once gave myself.
- Warm your insulin before giving the injection. Let your insulin sit out to get to room temperature in the syringe before injecting it. Cold insulin hurts!
- Realize that the injections will more than likely come to an end. Typically, your blood sugar will return to normal by 4 - 6 weeks after delivery. Mine went back to normal immediately after delivery both times and I was able to stop all diets and injections.
The Gestational Diabetes Aftermath
More than likely, your blood sugar will return to normal after delivery. However, your chances of getting diabetes later in life are increased. It is important to continue to eat healthy, exercise daily, and monitor your blood sugar every so often. My youngest just turned three and I still check my blood sugar every few months. Also, it is best to encourage your child to follow a healthy diet and to exercise regularly. My doctor told me that my children have an increased chance of getting adult onset diabetes due to the gestational diabetes. Good habits that are learned early enough will surely follow your child into adulthood.
Gestational Diabetes and Postpartum Depression
As with any other complication or illness during pregnancy, gestational diabetes increases your likelihood of developing postpartum depression. Please let family members know this is a possibility and get help from your doctor as soon as possible if you suspect depression.