My experience with Gestational Diabetes
What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a condition in which a woman without diabetes develops high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes generally results in few symptoms, however, it does increase the risk of pre-eclampsia, depression, larger babies, and requiring a Caesarean section.
All pregnant women are tested for GD by drinking a glucose drink and then taking blood samples one and two hours after drinking it to test blood sugar levels. This test is done around week 24 of pregnancy. For myself and for most women, diabetes goes away soon after delivery, however half of all women who had gestational diabetes develop type 2 diabetes later in life so it’s recommended to have regular blood screening to test for diabetes.
How did you feel when you were diagnosed?
When I got the call to advise that I had gestational diabetes I was sitting at work about to leave as I felt very unwell. I think I was crying and had just been told to go home and rest. I felt extremely fatigued, dizzy, and nauseous. When the nurse gave me the results she said “I’m not surprised you’re not feeling well!”
What information were you given??
I was referred to visit a dietician who talked to me at length about the condition and how I needed to make immediate changes to my diet to attempt to manage it through diet alone without the need for insulin. My aim was to not need insulin and I did it!!
I was required to keep a food diary and to test my blood glucose levels exactly 2 hours after I had finished eating. The blood sugar level had to read 5 or below to be satisfactory and I felt upset if I didn’t manage that.
Tell us about the changes you had to make?The most important part of the diet was to reduce my intake of carbs. It sounds easy but there were so many curve balls and it took a while to really understand carbs and sugar. A portion of basmati rice was ok but if I ate a small bite of sushi then my blood sugar levels spiked. I could enjoy an Indian curry (without the naan bread or Pappadoms – small tear), but I remember eating a Thai curry and had never seen my blood sugar levels so high!! I believe it was the palm sugar used. I learnt how to choose meals that would fill me up rather than eating small amounts of high carb food.
The diet was very strict. I could never skip a meal and had to eat every 2 hours to regulate blood glucose levels. It kind of put an end to snacking throughout the day as I’d have to eat and then wait 2 hours to test my blood and then eat morning tea, test my blood 2 hours later and then lunch and so on and so on. If my blood sugar levels were not satisfactory then I’d try to have a brisk walk to help reduce it. Exercise really helps regulate blood sugar levels.
I do recall feeling so much better as soon as I changed my eating habits and understood how to keep my blood sugar levels at a satisfactory level. This is what a day’s food looked like for me:
Breakfast – porridge / honey / few berries
morning tea – 1 piece of fruit such as a banana/apple
Lunch – chicken salad, veggie stir fry / scrambled eggs and avocado
Afternoon tea – handful of nuts / 2 arrowroot biscuits / 5 wafer crackers with cheese
Dinner – Meat and veggies/veggie bake / baked fish
Supper – Cup of milk with milo
Things to remember:
- Eat protein with every meal.
- Include daily fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- Limit or avoid processed foods.
- Pay attention to portion sizes to avoid overeating.
How did Gestational Diabetes kick start your path for creating Love Your Health?I felt very lost at times being away from my family even though Aidan was a massive support. I started seeking out products that would help me and had an epiphany moment – there was something lacking in the market for families like us lacking that true advice when it came to buying health products and food.
We’re so lucky in Australia to have access to good products and great produce so we really took it on board to want to share that message for the future generations and our children.
What was the impact of having GD on your life and those around you?It definitely made me more conscious – I was at my fittest when I fell pregnant with Alyssia and although I appeared to be healthy and not overweight at all, I definitely recall throwing caution to the wind slightly when it came to succumbing to my cravings whilst pregnant. I believe I gained weight too rapidly in the first half of my pregnancy. There are many other risk factors though listed here https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/gestational-diabetes
What would you say to Mothers who have just been diagnosed with GD?Visit a dietician and be honest with them about your current eating habits. Be aware that there may be things you’ll have to give up such as soft drinks and cake but hey it’s worth it for your and your baby’s health. Also, it’s amazing how sweet healthy food can taste when you’re eating cleanly.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you do make a mistake. I remember becoming tearful and stressed and looking back it really didn’t’ help. Pat yourself on the back for all the great days you have.
Make sure friends and family understand so they can support you. You don’t need friends tempting you with Ben and Jerry’s choc chip ice cream!