Pregnant Women: Watch Out for Sugar!

I think we all know sugar’s not good for us, and we could all stand to eat less of it.  But pregnant women can be even more sensitive to sugar’s destructive effects than non-pregnant women…especially if they don’t usually consume very much of it.

Case in point: Yesterday I wasn’t very smart, had too much sugar with my first meal of the day…and ended up fainting at the mall.  Not my favorite adventure….

I really hate telling this story because I hate weakness.  I’d never tell anyone I was sick or needed help (except my husband) because I don’t like feeling out of control.  But this is one case where I had no choice, and it’s an important warning for other pregnant women.  I hope.  Also, the same thing happened to me once when I was pregnant with my son, at which time I was checked at a hospital…and found fine.  (Yes…my midwives erred on the side of caution, even though by the time we called them I felt mostly fine, and they sent me immediately to a hospital, where they ran a full blood panel, among other things, and pronounced us — me and my son — fine.)

Anyway.  Here’s what happened:

My parents were coming to visit, and we typically go out for an early lunch, so I didn’t really have breakfast.  They arrived, we packed the kids up, and headed to lunch.  There, I ordered a peach tea (made in the restaurant, not one of those Nestea types).  It was extremely sweet/sugary…too much for me.  But I figured, eh, I’m eating lunch…it’ll be fine.  (Note to self: do not do this ever in the third trimester!  Not pregnant, I simply wouldn’t feel that well.  Very pregnant, well…you’ll see.)  I also had a bowl of soup and a burger so I thought I was good.

After eating we wandered around the mall awhile.  I felt very tired and sore and wanted to sit a lot.  I let my mom chase the kids.  But then we walked some more, and I started to feel very dizzy and light-headed, and I could barely keep my eyes open.  I forced myself to, and walked over to a bench and sat.  I said, “I feel dizzy, I need to sit for a minute.”  I leaned back, feeling very sleepy, trying to keep my eyes open and pay attention, but not much made sense to me at that point.

The next thing I knew, I was waking up from a dream.  My dad and some other guy were leaning over me, talking to me, asking me if I was okay.  I was still sitting on the bench.  At first it was like they were in a tunnel, very far away…I could hardly hear them.  But I knew immediately where I was and what had happened.  I answered all their questions fine, explained that this had happened before (under very similar circumstances, except that time I’d been in the passenger seat of our car with my husband driving…so no one noticed and I just told him after we got home).  They’d already called paramedics though, and my father called my husband.  I had only been out for a couple minutes.

Paramedics arrived (I still felt slightly dizzy but I was completely awake at that point).  They asked me a bunch of questions — was I high risk, did I have diabetes, etc. (no to all).  They checked my blood sugar — very high, but they said, given that I’d just eaten and had a lot of sugar, not a concern.  They checked my blood pressure — normal.  They asked me to stand up and I could do so with no problems.  They decided I appeared fine and I had a choice if I wanted to go with them or not.  I decided not to, and to just see my midwives (I had an appointment that night anyway).

The upshot?  I was slightly dehydrated to start (probably, since I’d had little water that morning), I had way too much sugar on an empty stomach (seriously spiking my blood sugar and not helping the dehydration), and even eating a meal couldn’t stop this.  Water probably could have, and as soon as I could I asked them to bring me some.  I’m way sensitive to the effects of sugar. 

My midwives, by the way, were not happy to hear about this.  They were much more concerned than the paramedics had been.  They did not send me to the hospital because we knew what was going on, and there was no glucose showing up in my urine by that evening’s appointment.  They told me this sort of reaction isn’t unprecedented in someone who rarely eats sugar, then binges, and that I needed to stop eating sugar now.  Well, I can have small amounts of honey or other natural sugars in my tea or whatever, but no refined sugar at all.  I know that.  I just wasn’t too smart.

So, pregnant women: beware!  Your body is more sensitive than usual and sugar overload can be dangerous.  Luckily I recognized the symptoms and sat down before anything happened (i.e. I didn’t fall or hit my head or anything).  And baby is happy and active today and I feel fine…just rather sheepish that I wasn’t smart enough to remember not to have that much sugar!

Do you have problems with sugar while pregnant?

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