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Gestational diabetes is a common affliction on many pregnant women. So, what do you do if you’re diagnosed gestational diabetes? I personally, had gestational diabetes during BOTH of my pregnancies. It’s not fun, but you can survive it.
It’s a hard pill to swallow — “your blood glucose test came back high.”
You just learned you have gestational diabetes. What now?
If it’s anything like my experience, you don’t get the counseling the same day you hear the diagnosis. Most likely you’ll run home and get online to search for information. It’s torture while you wait to learn what you can/can’t eat. You are afraid of hurting your baby by eating the wrong foods.
Gestational Diabetes Tips
Here are my tips on the first steps to take while you wait for more information from your doctor:
- Don’t stress out
- Stop eating anything that you know has sugar in it
- Stop eating all white food: potatoes, rice, bread, flour
- Drink lots of water
- Eat smaller meals, more often. Strive for three meals a day with two snacks in between.
- Watch the fruit. Don’t eat fruit in the morning or at night.
- Skip all juices. Yep, you can add OJ and all fruit juices to the list of things you can no longer drink. For me, this was hard. I was drinking specialty juice drinks in place of a cocktail at parties and special outings. I had to get used to drinking water more often. Diet soda is OK.
- Exercise. (Walk if that’s all you are allowed to do.)
- Go to the library and check out some books about gestational diabetes. Here are a list from Amazon.
- Join an online forum where you can find other mothers dealing with the same issues. There are several Facebook groups dedicated to women with gestational diabetes.
- Tell people about it. You’ll be surprised about the support you’ll get and I bet you’ll find another woman you know who had to deal with the same thing. I was very worried when I first found out and was telling people at work about it, saying I didn’t know what to do. A coworker told me she had it with her second pregnancy and gave me tips. It immediately calmed me down.
Gestational Diabetes Symptoms
Unfortunately, there aren’t any symptoms that a woman will be able to look for when it comes to determining if you have gestational diabetes.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
“Gestational diabetes starts when your body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. Without enough insulin, glucose cannot leave the blood and be changed to energy.” (source.)
How Do I Know if I have Gestational Diabetes?
Your doctor will prescribe a liquid drink to take during your pregnancy. This glucose test will determine if you have gestational diabetes. All women will take this test.
What If I Test Positive?
Remember: it’s not the end of the world. It’s scary, but as you’ll learn, you and your baby will be fine.
If your test is positive, your doctor will most likely prescribe more doctor appointments, and monitor your blood sugar closely. You’ll be asked to take your blood sugar several times a day. I took mine every few hours, which meant I pricked my finger to get a reading 5 – 6 times per day.
Many times, you can control your blood sugar through a healthy, no sugar-diet. Other times, insulin may be required.
Because I closely monitored my sugar levels, ate a no-sugar diet, and made sure I exercised (mainly walking) every day, I was able to stay off insulin.
How Can Gestational Diabetes Affect Your Baby?
Gestational diabetes develops in the mother late in pregnancy, after the baby has been formed, but before it’s done growing. If you find you have gestational diabetes, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions so you baby won’t be affected.
Poorly treated, or untreated gestational diabetes can lead to macrosomia in the baby.
“Babies with macrosomia face health problems of their own, including damage to their shoulders during birth. Because of the extra insulin made by the baby’s pancreas, newborns may have very low blood glucose levels at birth and are also at higher risk for breathing problems. Babies with excess insulin become children who are at risk for obesity and adults who are at risk for type 2 diabetes.” (source.)
After you give birth, your baby will be tested for diabetes so he/she can be treated if he is born with diabetes. Most often, the baby will not have diabetes. After birth, you can go back to your regular diet.
This was the greatest news to me. I ate, and ate, and ate. But, I learned a lot while watching my diet. It was a good lesson in how food affects the body.
After you deliver, you’ll also be monitored yearly for regular diabetes. Gestational diabetes can impact your health as you get older, so you need to be vigilant to make sure you are on top of it.
Gestational Diabetes Resources
- Gestational Diabetes and Women podcast from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention