At 28 weeks pregnant I was told I had gestational diabetes (GDM). I think I’m a ‘healthy’ person, I exercise regularly and there is no history of diabetes in my family. It was a MASSIVE shock when I got a phone call from the hospital telling me I was invited to go to the gestational diabetes information session.

I was DEVASTATED to say the least. I knew nothing about gestational diabetes. Everything was going so well in my pregnancy and there I was. I felt like I did something wrong and it would affect my baby and he wouldn’t be as healthy as he could have been. I blamed myself straight away, like I had diabetes because of the ice cream I had the week before or the chocolate I ate the day before the test. But it doesn’t work like that. Gestational diabetes is the fastest growing type of diabetes that affects thousands of pregnant women. Between 5% and 10% of pregnant women will develop it (LUCKY ME). I tried to write my own definition of GDM but it’s better if I just use a BabyCenter definition:

”…With the help of insulin (a hormone made by your pancreas), muscle, fat, and other cells absorb glucose from your blood. But if your body doesnt produce enough insulin, or if the cells have a problem responding to it, too much glucose remains in your blood instead of moving into cells and getting converted to energy. If the pancreas cant keep up with the increased demand for insulin during pregnancy, blood sugar levels rise too high because the cells arent using the glucose. This results in gestational diabetes. (BabyCenter)

At around 24 weeks, you have to do the OGT test which takes about 3 hours to complete (DRAINER). They take a blood sample before and two hours after taking a very disgusting sugary drink. You need to do this test while fasting, which makes it 100% worse. When you are pregnant, you do not want to be fasting. To be in the clear from having GDM your results need to be: Fasting: <5.0 mmol, 1 hour after the drink: <7.4 mmol, 2 hours after the drink: <6.7 mmol.

PS The numbers above for GDM are much lower than the numbers for Type 2 Diabetes.

My results were: Fasting: 3.9 mmol, 1 hour after: 7.5 mmol, 2 hours after: 8.7 mmol

I HAD GESTATIONAL DIABETES. I cried a lot and felt sorry for myself. My partner, on the other hand, said it was a positive situation as we would now need to eat healthier and follow a structured exercise plan! I always see the negative before the positive and he sees the positive in everything, which is why we are a good match! Haha.

I had gestational diabetes but I could control it by eating healthy and exercising. No need to inject insulin, thank God. I had to test my blood sugar levels 4 times a day; once before breakfast and 2 hours after every meal. I HATED doing it. I had to do it at work and also when I was out for dinner. I started doing it in the toilet, because I was EMBARRASSED and didn’t know how to cope. Then I started being more comfortable with it and started telling people. At first, I was keeping the whole diabetes thing to myself. I obviously realized that people weren’t judging me. People don’t actually know a lot about gestational diabetes, including myself. So once I started telling people it was so much better. I didn’t have to hide. I still felt guilty and angry though.

The first month after I was diagnosed, I was eating really healthy – low GI foods and no ‘treats’ -when I realized my results were pretty low. Then I started bending the rules (!!) and started eating higher GI foods. I would eat a normal piece of toast in the morning (instead of the low GI option) then test myself. If it was low, I would try something else at the next meal. But then it would be a bit higher and I would freak out!

Top five ways I coped with having GDM

1- Dont hide it : Talk to people around you so you don’t have to hide anymore.

2- Have your partner support you: Make your partner eat the same things as you so you don’t have food envy at each meal!

3- Dont be scared: Don’t be scared for your baby because as soon as you are diagnosed with GDM, you are seen by doctors and you receive the best care. Also, don’t be scared to try higher GI foods at certain meals and test yourself afterwards to see how your blood sugar levels are responding to the foods.

4- Accept it:Don’t stay angry about it. You have other things to worry about… like a growing baby!

5- Reach out: Speak to other women who also have/had GDM and share feelings as well as eating and exercise plans. (Feel free to get in touch with me!)

PS – In my case, my blood sugar levels returned to normal after I gave birth. I was so nervous to take the test again as I thought I would have Type 2 Diabetes for sure. I took the test 5 months after giving birth because I was putting it off and I stressed about it! So another advice: take the test at your 6-week checkup, just to put your mind at ease.

 

Sources

Diabetes Australia: https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/gestational-diabetes

Baby Center: https://www.babycenter.com/0_gestational-diabetes_2058.bc