Thursday the 14th of November is World Diabetes Day, a chance for us all to discuss and raise awareness of diabetes.
As I’m sure you’re all aware, there are different types of diabetes – possibly more than you even realised! There is…
Gestational Diabetes is a condition that about 16% of pregnant women develop during pregnancy. It’s so important to remember that it isn’t your fault or down to your diet – there are factors that can raise your risk of developing Gestational Diabetes but it isn’t your fault, it didn’t happen due to eating the wrong things, all women have increased insulin resistance during pregnancy and for some women, their bodies can’t increase insulin production quite enough and they become a Gestational Diabetic.
When I was a Gestational Diabetic, my clinic was packed with women from all shapes and sizes; size 6 gym bunnies, up to much bigger women, and all sizes in between.
How Can I Manage Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational Diabetes, as distressing as many mummies find this diagnosis to be, is not the end of the world and is manageable!
- Eat healthily; reduce your sugar and carbohydrate intake and increase your intake of good fats. How much carbohydrate you should or shouldn’t eat remains a contentious topic – Gestational Diabetes UK’s dietary advice has helped thousands of Gestational Diabetics and I wish I’d found them sooner.
- Try to do some gentle exercise daily.
- Drink plenty of water as this is great for keeping your blood glucose stable and keeping your kidneys in good shape.
- Ensure that you take any prescribed medication diligently.
- If you need to test your blood glucose, do it and record the numbers accurately.
- Remember that medication does not mean you should eat what you want and when you want – a lesson learned the hard way by myself…
It’s important to be as careful as possible in managing Gestational Diabetes for a number of reasons…
I don’t want anyone to feel terrified, but it is incredibly important to be aware of the facts about Gestational Diabetes in order to equip yourself with the information that you need to enjoy a healthier pregnancy.
- Gestational Diabetes raises your risk of future Diabetes; the better you manage your Gestational Diabetes, the better position you put your future health in.
- It can raise the risk of Macrosomia (baby weighing more than 4kg) leading to complications.
- It can raise the risk of Shoulder Dystocia (shoulder stuck in birth canal).
- Raises the risk of premature delivery and subsequent complications.
- Raises the risk of IUGR (growth restriction).
- Raises the risks of Pre-Eclampsia (which I developed too).
- Raises the risk of blood sugar issues and jaundice in your newborn.
- Stillbirth is a risk in pregnancies where blood glucose is poorly controlled/monitored or Gestational Diabetes undiagnosed.
The Shocking Myth About Gestational Diabetes
There is one shocking myth about Gestational Diabetes that many mummies are unaware of and not informed about when they’re diagnosed. Wait for it…
Gestational diabetes does not always vanish once you’ve had your baby!
As well as putting you at an increased risk of future Type 2 Diabetes, a small number of Gestational Diabetics will become a Type 2 (an even smaller number will become a Type 1) immediately after having their baby. This is why you should attend your post partum GTT, because it will pick up on if you’re still a diabetic. There isn’t much data on how many mummies this happens to, but it is very real and does happen.
It’s thought that for some ladies with undiagnosed preexisting insulin resistance (often associated with PCOS) or other blood sugar balance issues, Gestational Diabetes can be the proverbial ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ and push a woman into the Type 2 zone.
After having Max, I was really poorly with a wound infection and recovering from an emergency caesarean, so I had to rebook but my hospital wouldn’t book me back in until 4 months after he was born, which I wasn’t happy with considering the risks of diabetes. I was told to ask my GP for a HBA1C but was told by them that a HBA1C wouldn’t be accurate… Long story short, I was catapulted back and forth between the hospital and my GP until I was completely lost in the system and too poorly to chase it up.
For 18 months, I was an undiagnosed, uncontrolled Type 2 Diabetic.
Looking back at my symptoms, it’s glaringly obvious but at the time I thought it was a range of other conditions… another pregnancy, Post Natal Depression, iron deficiency, anything but T2 Diabetes as Gestational Diabetes vanishes after the birth (as I’d been told by numerous midwives and consultants), right?
I had my urine dipped when my son was a few months old and they found a large amount of protein and blood in my wee… the first alarm bells, yet diabetes wasn’t even considered and it was put down to a residual impact of my preeclampsia from pregnancy. It turns out that my kidneys were actually failing and I was becoming more and more unwell. My symptoms were;
- Constant, extreme sweating.
- Horrific and regular attacks of gout! I’d rather give birth 1000 times than experience this again.
- Visual disturbances.
- Very, very dry mouth.
- Protein and blood in my wee.
- Excruciating migraines regularly.
- Intense, constant hunger, meaning I binge ate and then gained more weight, perpetuating the cycle and making myself more unwell.
- Cravings for sugar and starch.
- Horrendous mood swings and a foul temper.
- Constant crying.
- High blood pressure.
- Lack of energy.
- Feeling faint and dizzy all the time.
- Slurring my words during episodes of high blood glucose.
- Passing out after food.
I’d had these symptoms from the get go after the birth, yet I’d had all my testing kits and medication taken off my repeat prescription so I was dealing with them alone and unmedicated. One day, I just knew that I had to check my blood glucose, and I found my old testing kit that I’d lost but suddenly knew where it was instinctively, and by some miracle I had 3 test strips left. A non diabetic should have a blood glucose level of 7.8 two hours after eating…
Mine was 18.4. That is over double the healthy limit for a post food reading!
I was diagnosed as a Type 2 Diabetic when my son was 18 months old, with a HBA1C reading of 9.4. My son is now 3, and I am in remission, with normal blood glucose readings.
I’ve lost over 6 stone by following a low carb, high healthy fat diet and becoming more active – I’m starting to feel like my old self again, as well as bringing my cholesterol and blood pressure down a lot too. My mental health is massively improved as a result, and I’m absolutely loving life and motherhood. A diabetes diagnosis, as shit as it is, isn’t an ‘end game’. It can mark a new, healthier beginning and I know that I will (probably) lead a long and healthy life.
So, now I’ve been there and got the t-shirt, I’d tell every other mummy who has been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes to…
- Don’t use medication as a crutch to eat rubbish. I am paying the price for the 6 stone I gained during pregnancy!
- Try to swap out starchy foods for lower carb alternatives.
- Try to swap out sugary foods for food with less sugar in.
- Don’t be afraid of healthy fats – they can slow sugar absorption and reduce spikes in blood glucose, whilst also keeping you satisfied and fuller for longer. Carb-rich foods can actually make you hungry again sooner!
- Be aware of the signs of Type 2 Diabetes and ensure you get a GTT soon after having your baby.
- If you’re a mum who had Gestational Diabetes at any point, ensure you have a regular HBA1C done by your GP and get an appointment if you feel like you have any symptoms of Diabetes as early intervention is key.
- Remember that if you do ever develop Type 2 Diabetes, it can be controlled and put into remission.
Share your own stories with us in the comments!
Love from Katie & Team BBY. Xx