The Low Down On Gestational Diabetes (Part I)

I was just diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Two for two! I blame my husband’s genome because that makes me feel better. (The heck if I’m gonna blame it on “advanced maternal age.” Barf.)

My first diagnosis was a huge shocker; I was under 35 (barely), petite, had no family history and my OB was baffled because I my eating habits are pretty healthy, save for the occasional sweet. The good news, during my first pregnancy, was that my numbers weren’t all that bad. I could use diet and exercise to control my insulin. The bad news? I’m irrationally afraid of needles, or at least I was, but I’ll get to the needles later. I’ve also learned a few tips and tricks to pass along and I’ll break down my experience…

Here’s the deal! Around 25 weeks, your OB will give you a glucose test. You must fast for 8 hours before it takes place so schedule it first thing in the morning. The glucose test kicks off with a glass of the sweetest carbonated beverage. It was all I could do not to throw up. My tip: bring a straw to suck that goop down without the taste saturating your mouth. You’ll also have to sit there for an hour before the blood test, but then you can go home and eat whatever you want.

Two days later your phone will ring and your OB will tell your insulin numbers. If your numbers are fine, then you receive a get out of jail free card and collect $200. (Not really, silly.) And you don’t need to read further! Congratulations. However, if your numbers are high, get ready for the second appointment and the 3 hour glucose test.

Ah yes! The Three Hour Glucose Test Of Torture!

You fast again the night before and go in early, but you can just tell the doctor’s office when you will be in since the doctor won’t need to see you. First on the agenda, getting your blood drawn to get the fasting number. The fasting number is your body’s baseline, or the amount of sugar in your blood when there is no food in your system. After the blood test comes Super Sweet Drink Round Two! Twice the volume this time around! (Bring your straw.)

My OB’s office has no WiFi so I would advice loading up your iPad or Smartphone with TV shows or a movie. I also brought a book, two tabloids, a magazine, a newspaper, a pen, notebook, headphones, earbuds and of course my walker, which has a nice pouch for all my stuff. I look like a kangaroo.

After the first hour, they take blood. Then you sit and wait a second hour. They take blood. You wait a third hour. They take more blood and if you weren’t feeling nauseas before, Hello Sister.

Then you FINALLY get to go home. You’re famished, but you have no appetite. You’re dizzy, but you need to drive. Living. The. Dream.

Now you get to wait a couple more days hoping that you passed. If you did, good for you. If not, read on.

Because it’s time for the registered dietician and food counselor!!!

Your doctor will refer you to a registered dietician, who will help you with meal planning and your new daily routine; finger pricks for testing blood sugar and the appropriate corresponding numbers, menu plans, and keeping a food diary. You have to keep track of everything you eat because, if your numbers are high, you know what to avoid. If they are normal, you know what you can tolerate.

Fortunately the numbers are low enough, you can manage your insulin with diet and exercise alone. If not, there is an oral or injectable insulin that can be prescribed.

The fun part is getting more ultrasounds. The doctor needs to monitor the size of the baby to make sure he/she is growing at the appropriate rate. Gestational diabetes is linked to large babies, but not if you keep your blood sugar in check!

But the part that I especially hate… More Needles!!!

Every day I prick my fingers 4 times to test my sugar level. When I wake up and one hour after every major meal. I did this for 7 weeks. In the beginning, I was traumatized four times a day. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to overcome. But 7 weeks later it became just another part of my day. I made it through and had a super healthy, 7lb 2oz baby boy and I no longer hyperventilate at the sight of a needle. Also, I learned a ton about the importance of food combinations and the definition of a truly balanced meal. This trickled down to my family. Now portion control and food combination has become second nature.

Stay tuned for part 2 with more gestational diabetes tips and tricks and some clues about what to eat.

Read more from Macki on Being Pregnant or the Family Kitchen

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