Ahhhh, pregnancy. The first time around it was all fun and games until the dreaded glucose test at 28 weeks came back abnormal. Then I got to do it again a week or so later and got the confirmation that I had Gestational Diabetes.
What exactly is Gestational Diabetes?
Well, the best we have figured out is that hormones produced by the placenta interfere with your body’s ability to properly use insulin, causing your body to produce more. You need insulin to metabolize glucose into energy. Without enough insulin, the glucose just sticks around in your bloodstream. When your body can’t produce this extra insulin and properly metabolize glucose, you become diabetic. Usually all of this clears up after the baby is born, once the placenta is delivered, and your hormones go back to normal. Approximately 9% of pregnant women have this issue.
So what happens if you’re diagnosed?
Luckily during my first pregnancy, I was sent to Julie, my amazing diabetes educator who assured me that while this might not be fun, it would be ok. The last 3 months of my pregnancy consisted of a strict diet and 6 daily glucose checks. I had dreams about fudge brownies and cheesecake, then woke to eat my eggs and wheat toast for breakfast. Sigh. I was lucky though. I didn’t have to take any medications or insulin to keep my sugar under control. I’m also pretty sure that I induced labor when I ate cheesecake 48 hours before my scheduled c-section. My water broke and I was in active labor 2 hours after eating it!
Fast forward to October of 2017 when the pregnancy test turned positive a 2nd time.
After calling my OB/GYN, the second phone call I made was to Julie. Long story short, she said that to be safe we should assume that I would be diabetic again and start the ol’ diet right away along with the monitoring. Apparently once you’ve had Gestational Diabetes you’re much more likely to have it again. YAY. I decided to get on board right away for a variety of reasons, the most important being that this time around I want to be as healthy as possible because I’m going for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarian).
While last time around wasn’t too bad, only 3-ish months, this time around BLOWS! I haven’t had anything sweet in 5 MONTHS. I have vivid dreams of cake and brownies and other things I can’t eat and wake up panicking that I ate them and am going into shock or something. Also I am sick of eating the same thing all the time. Right now I live on yogurt, cheese, whole wheat bread, wheat crackers, meat, and peanut butter. Luckily most vegetables have been ok this go round and some fruit. Last time the only fruit I could handle was apples. It’s tough because you just don’t know how something is going to affect your sugar until you try it.
The Diabetes Educators can give you guidelines, but everyone responds differently.
I’m constantly calculating ratios of carbs to protein in my head to make sure I have the right balance and can therefore keep my sugar in a good place. I plan meals based on how active I will be afterwards so I don’t get too high or low. Everything I eat is logged in a notebook along with my post-meal sugars so that we can see how I am doing and what causes spikes. I know I am fortunate to not be on medication or insulin, but it’s still a lot to handle.
Now that I am about to reach my third trimester, I am trying to be as creative as possible with my food because this is when the worst of the insulin-blocking hormones kick in, and normally I would be tested for Gestational Diabetes. I know that some of the things I have been able to eat so far will no longer be an option. And I will also have to up my exercise to keep other things in my diet. Hopefully I won’t have to start taking medication or insulin because of all my hard work up to this point. Cravings? Time to ignore those and find a diabetes-friendly alternative to satisfy my desire to eat an entire pan of brownies. Cue the vivid food dreams again.
I’m already making a list of the things I am going to eat once this kiddo is born too. Last time around, I just wanted coffee ASAP. This time I think a box of Girl Scout cookies will be in my labor and delivery bag. Who knows? Maybe I will have to try the cheesecake trick again . . .
Originally published April of 2018