Dealing with gestational diabetes
1 CommentWednesday, 2 April 2014 | Admin
It’s been just over three weeks since I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, but four weeks since I was told it was very likely that I have it. So that’s four weeks of radically overhauling my diet and I can finally say that I’m pretty used to it now.
I’m much luckier than some who get GD – it was found at 31 weeks, so I only had nine weeks of the diet and lifestyle change to cope with. I have since met other women who got it as early as 15 weeks. That would be hell – particularly as it would have been nearly impossible at Christmas – it’s bad enough with Easter coming up! My mother in law is collecting Cadbury’s Creme Eggs for me so that I can have them after I’ve given birth!
So life with GD is ok. In case anyone doesn’t know much about gestational diabetes, it is where your body reacts to your hormones by making you unable to use insulin as efficiently as usual, meaning that too much sugar gets into your blood when you eat sugar or carbohydrates that are converted into sugar. The good news is, it almost always disappears once you’ve given birth. It doesn’t have a particularly adverse effect on the mother, but the sugary blood gets through to the baby and as he isn’t diabetic, he produces lots of insulin to combat it, and as insulin is a growth hormone, this can lead to the baby growing very big – particularly in his stomach and upper body. As you can imagine, this can cause all sorts of problems, not least difficulties with giving birth.
They have different ways of controlling it – people usually start off controlling it with their diet, which I am doing at the moment. By cutting out sugar and any quickly absorbed carbohydrates like white rice, pasta and bread, you try to keep your sugar levels within a set range after eating. I have to test an hour after every meal and also first thing in the morning, to check my ‘fasting’ levels. This involves pricking my finger and testing the blood on a little machine. It’s quite a faff, but I’m getting used to it – it’s much better now that I’ve finished work for the Easter holidays, and then maternity leave starts after that. Remembering to test your blood sugar in the middle of a lesson is nearly impossible!
If your levels don’t stay within the required limits, they have the option to put you on a drug called metformin first, then on insulin if you need it. I am really really hoping it doesn’t come to that. I’m doing ok so far – fingers’ crossed!
I had a scan two weeks ago, and it looks like the baby is measuring as he should be. At my next one, next week, I am hoping I might be told a bit more about my birthing options. I have to be consultant led now in my care, rather than being allowed to give birth on the midwife run ward. I will have to be monitored a lot more, and there’s a good chance I will be induced on or just before my due date. I am getting used to this idea now – at least I know he won’t be two weeks late!
The things I’m finding the hardest about living with gestational diabetes are having to wear blinkers in the supermarket, where lovely, tasty, sugary treats are placed in prime positions to get your mouth watering as you go round. I have found a few replacements – some sugar free chocolate actually tastes quite good, and I made a delicious lemon drizzle cake with no sugar last week, which made it all a bit more bearable.
I find going out for meals tough – you realise how much carbohydrate you eat when you try to limit it and only have complex carbs like brown pasta and rice. I find I can’t eat bread – even wholemeal – as it sends my levels too high, but potatoes, in moderation, seem ok. It’s definitely a case of trial and error – hopefully with not too much error!
Petrol stations are difficult too – all the chocolate by the counter when you’re paying, as well as the stodgy carbs like sausage rolls that I craved early in my pregnancy – make me really miserable! I get around it by paying at the pump as much as possible, but when that isn’t possible I feel really put out!
But there is light at the end of the tunnel and a very worthwhile little bundle to arrive in the next five weeks – so I can’t complain too much. It’s difficult, but if it’s for the sake of the health of my baby, then it’s really a no-brainer. I’m never tempted to be ‘naughty’ because I just don’t think that’s fair. I can be naughty once he’s arrived. I’m sure I can get through five weeks without chocolate – even if it is Easter in the middle of that!