When I first found out that I had GDM I was shocked, upset and worried. It was school holidays and I was at home with my two daughters when the doctor called me. I shed a few tears and felt sorry for myself and ended up being comforted with a cuddle from my wonderful 5 year old!
I thought to myself – what will I do now? I already eat very low GI, loads of vegetables, drink only water...what will this mean? Will my baby be ok? (If you are unsure what GDM is click here to read my post on it.)
In particular I was sad to find out that having GDM meant that my baby may be more likely to deal with obesity or to develop type 2 diabetes later in life. That was probably the hardest thing to hear. Especially having my background, knowledge and lifestyle and hoping to have a healthy happy family it was quite heart-breaking.
I felt a bit like I'd been 'poisoning' my baby with any piece of cake or treat that I'd unknowingly had. I felt guilty for not having exercised more.
That morning I managed to chat with a girlfriend who had GDM for her 2nd and 3rd pregnancies and everything turned out fine for her. Her words and straight up advice was really encouraging.
The biggest challenge was flying 'blind' for the first two weeks as I couldn't see the diabetes team and get my blood sugar monitoring kit until we returned after the school holidays.
None of the educators or doctors sounded particularly concerned about this. I on the other hand felt a real need to get straight onto it. Not knowing whether what I was doing was good, bad or indifferent weighed on my mind, so it was a really challenging time. I just wanted to have the numbers and all the info!
I also found it hard to get correct and clear information on exactly what diet changes to make. I knew that what I was eating was fairly good but could be tweaked. I found that much of the information that I read online was conflicting or the opposite to what I would have thought was recommended. For example 'low fat dairy' kept coming up whereas I was thinking that the full fat options with lower sugar would be best. (I explain what I did discover here.)
Initially I thought that it was just about cutting out any sweets or treats and with Easter being over those two weeks 'flying blind' I felt deprived skipping any chocolate while the rest of my family enjoyed theirs. I have always been one for moderation and allow myself chocolate as I know that almost everything I eat is really healthy and nourishing. I just like the flavour of chocolate and know that I get lots of nourishment from the other things I eat so I am totally comfortable with that.
The whole 'breaking baby's shoulder' comment kept coming up in my mind however, so I took it pretty seriously and made do with my cup of tea and a carrot sticks instead. I did however have hot cross buns which I later on found out were really worse for my situation than the chocolate would have been – go figure!
As I went on to learn, once I did get my kit and had the education sessions with the diabetes team, the key thing is total carbohydrates consumed, not just sugar. Having lower GI (slow release carbohydrate) options is a good thing, but first and foremost it is the total amount of carbohydrate that counts.
The diabetes educators were good and I was able to purchase my kit and start taking my blood sugar levels straight away after the session. The kit contains a finger pricker with replacement needles, a tester machine that looks a bit like a pedometer and test strips, all tucked in a little purse. You also get a booklet to record results down in. You take your blood sugar level first thing in the morning, then 2 hours after each main meal which works out to being about mid morning, mid afternoon and in the evening.
Day one and day two I was over the limit twice – eeek! (More than 3 high readings over a 7 day period means you need to contact the team to discuss going onto insulin.) Three strikes and I could have been out...
More concern set in...
Was I really going to be able to get on top of this? How much have I been spiking my blood sugars over the last two weeks? How is my baby?
My goal was and is to be able to manage my blood sugar levels without insulin, purely for the fact that wouldn't be able to birth at the centre I'd planned to with my midwife if I had to go on insulin injections. All insulin dependant pregnant women have to birth at the main hospital here in Canberra. This would mean a much longer drive to get there and an unknown place, unfamiliar team etc.
As it turned out, after a few initial high blood sugar readings I have managed to get them under control. I write this at 34 weeks pregnant and am managing to keep everything pretty well within the ranges now. Most reassuringly of all, a had a scan ten days ago which showed that baby is exactly on the 50th percentile for size which was wonderful news and exactly what we had been praying for.
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