Thankfully for the majority of women who fall pregnant they will sail through pregnancy without any issues and the topic of Gestational Diabetes won’t need to be discussed in much depth.
However for the 3-5% of women that do go on to develop it; it can be a daunting and often disheartening realisation. Gestational diabetes means diabetes mellitus which literally translates to high blood sugar that is first found during pregnancy. It usually starts around the middle or towards the end of pregnancy but it can start earlier.
I received the news at 28 weeks pregnant after an over night stay in hospital when we discovered that not only was I measuring larger than expected for my dates but I had an unusually high amount of glucose in my urine. I was sent for an oral glucose tolerance test which measures the body’s ability to use glucose which is the body’s main source of energy.
This involved fasting for twelve hours prior to the test, although I was allowed to drink water but for any ladies going through this I’d check with your doctors first. The fasting glucose test was followed by a syrupy high sugar drink with a further test two hours later. When I received the telephone call with the news that I had developed gestational diabetes, I admit I was in denial and total shock.
Despite my best intentions to eat healthy and limit my sugar intake throughout my pregnancy; I was horrified at this new discovery and needless to say blamed myself entirely. I felt slightly more reassured when the doctors explained that GD is often another aspect that we can blame on our hormones during pregnancy.
Your body needs extra insulin because hormones from the placenta make your body less responsive to it. When your body can’t meet the extra demand, your blood sugar levels rise and you may development GD. Keeping weight gain under control, eating healthy and ensuring you get adequate exercise sometimes just isn’t enough.
Gestational diabetes can cause problems for you and your baby during and after birth. But the risk of these problems happening can be reduced if it’s detected and well-managed.
Thankfully mine was detected early and I was able to monitor my blood sugar levels daily. I kept a food diary and tested my blood sugar before and after my three main meals of the day. Luckily this enabled me to control the diabetes through diet alone and without the need for additional insulin injections or tablets.
Gestational diabetes doesn’t usually cause any symptoms and most cases are picked up when your blood sugar level is tested during a routine or unplanned screening test. Looking back, my main symptom was increased thirst, oh and constant need to pee ( more so than normal)
Because most of the symptoms can be normal pregnancy symptoms, its important to get yourself checked out if you feel something is amiss.
Some women may develop symptoms if their blood sugar level gets too high such as:
- increased thirst
- needing to pee more often than usual
- a dry mouth
I feel its important to add that most women with gestational diabetes have otherwise normal pregnancies with healthy babies.
However, gestational diabetes can cause problems such as:
- your baby growing larger than usual – this may lead to difficulties during the delivery and increases the likelihood of needing induced labour or a cesarean section
- polyhydramnios – too much amniotic fluid (the fluid that surrounds the baby) in the womb, which can cause premature labour or problems at delivery
- premature birth – giving birth before the 37th week of pregnancy
- pre-eclampsia – a condition that causes high blood pressure during pregnancy and can lead to pregnancy complications if not treated
- your baby developing low blood sugar or yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice) after he or she is born, which may require treatment in hospital
My son was born at 35 weeks after my amniotic fluid reduced beyond the normal range. His blood sugar levels were low but soon regulated themselves within twelve hours and thankfully he came home from hospital four days later. My blood sugars normalised and I’ve since been tested four months post pregnancy and thankfully been given the all clear.
Once you’ve been diagnosed you’ll also be more closely monitored during your pregnancy and birth to check for any potential problems.
The only thing I removed completely from my diet was juicing. Whilst I’ll happily drink a carrot and ginger juice or apple and kale juice on occasion, I totally removed this from my diet once I was diagnosed. For people with diabetes, juicing can potentially cause blood glucose levels to soar. My personal preference; non caffeine herbal teas and plenty of water. Being dehydrated raises blood sugar levels by making your blood more concentrated. I’ve added a list of low and high-gylcemic foods below.
Good luck ladies and please remember my blog posts are based upon my personal views and experiences. For specific questions regarding your diet and exercise plan, please contact a professional.