Let me start this post by saying that I can’t believe I’m writing it. When my doctor’s office called to say that I have gestational diabetes, I felt a mix of frustration, denial, anger and sadness – but I think I was mostly super embarrassed. I had wanted to deny the dreaded glucose test, thinking there’s no way I had diabetes and didn’t want to drink that nasty sugary stuff. I went ahead and took the 2-hour test, and afterwards felt so awful that I was sure it was because I was so healthy that my body just wasn’t used to that much sugar ;). I never expected to hear that I had failed the test!
FAILED Glucose Test
Guys, I don’t fail tests! So how did I “fail” this one?! I felt like somebody handed me my pregnancy report card with a big fat “F” on it. Well, as I’ve learned more about gestational diabetes, I’ve learned there are many reasons you might get it. I’ve also learned that it doesn’t necessarily need to have the stigma that I’ve attached to it in my head. After I found out that I had it, I started hearing stories of other people who also had it when they were pregnant – people who I view as normal, healthy, active and responsible humans! While I’m still a little embarrassed to be posting about it on here, I figure there must be other people who feel the same way I felt and would appreciate reading this.
CAUSES GESTATIONAL DIABETES
Ok, so here’s how it works, as I understand it: normally, when you eat food, your pancreas produces insulin (which I didn’t know is actually a hormone) that helps sugar move from your bloodstream into your cells to be processed as energy. However, when you’re pregnant, your placenta produces high levels of other hormones that basically attack your insulin and make it so that the sugar in your blood can’t be processed. If your blood sugar is consistently rising, it can start to affect you and your baby. In my case, I have two placentas, which means my pancreas/insulin stand even less of a fighting chance! Good old twin pregnancy, man ;).
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU FIND OUT YOU HAVE GESTATIONAL DIABETES
And here’s how it goes down (or at least how it went down for me!): I took the 2-hr glucose test a few days after my 24-week appointment. My doctor’s office called me with the results, and then referred me to a program offered here in Newport Beach through Hoag Hospital. The program is called Sweet Success, and is specifically for pregnant women who need to monitor and manage GD. Wherever you are, I’m sure there is a similar program. I was still feeling stubborn and in denial that I actually had gestational diabetes, but I reluctantly went to the classes and learned how to take my blood sugar. I figured that I would just take my blood sugar four times a day like they wanted me to and show them that I was just fine every time. I thought the way that they told us to eat was silly, because I thought I actually ate “healthier” than that in my regular life. However, I got home and realized that there were certain things that would spike my blood sugar. You have to remember that carbs and dairy also process in your system as sugar, so even if you aren’t eating candy and sweets all day you still need to be careful of the combinations of carbs, dairy, and sugar that you consume at certain times.
HOW TO MANAGE GESTATIONAL DIABETES
As long as I do a few key things, I can keep my blood sugar down in the right range! I think this is the case for most people in my position.
- Don’t skip breakfast! Eat a good breakfast when you wake up, with protein!
- Eat frequently throughout the day – don’t let yourself get too hungry! I do breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, and then bedtime snack.
- Watch your carbs, dairy, and sugar – don’t eat too much in one meal/snack! A safe bet is to stick to a generally healthy diet of lean proteins, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Exercise (if you can!) I can’t do this anymore now that I’m on bed rest, but it really does help to even just take a little walk after you eat a meal.
See, that’s not so bad! It’s actually kind of fun to experiment and track your blood sugar to see how food affects you. It’s definitely been a good reminder of how I should be eating for myself and my babies. And just because I know it can be scary I will tell you right now – pricking your finger to test your blood sugar really doesn’t hurt! I was so afraid to do it that first time and then I laughed at myself when I found out how mellow it actually is.
In the cases where you either can’t or won’t manage your blood sugar with diet and exercise, your doctor will then put you on insulin. But the good news? Gestational diabetes usually goes away right when you give birth and get rid of that placenta (or placentas!)
So there it is, my deep dark shameful pregnancy secret that turned out to not be so shameful after all! I even try to look at it as a blessing in that it’s motivated me to be healthier in this last trimester of pregnancy – maybe I won’t have so much weight to lose when all is said and done ;). Sometimes pregnancy cause be SUCH a beast, but it’s so nice to know that we aren’t alone – that these things have happened to SO many women and there is an end in sight!