A few weeks ago, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 31 weeks pregnant. I’ve written about my first thoughts and feelings about it, but I thought it would be good to give you a little update three weeks on about how I’m managing it.
I’m not going to lie: it hasn’t been easy. Constantly watching the clock, making sure I test my bloods either before a meal or an hour after a meal, depending on the day, making sure I eat at regular intervals instead of when I’m hungry and of course, watching every single thing that I eat. However, I feel like I’ve finally got to grips with it as much as I can, which does make it just a little bit easier to deal with.
For the first week, I pretty much cut out sugar and carbs completely. My blood sugars were fine but I was pretty miserable. I really struggled with eating because I was so panicky about sending my levels too high. I was hungry all the time and that made me feel really grouchy and knackered. The second week was even worse – not only was I hungry, grouchy and miserable, but my blood sugars went a bit haywire as well. I had been warned that if I had three consecutive high readings, I would need to go onto medication to help me control it, which was the last thing I wanted. I wasn’t doing anything different from the first week, so I couldn’t quite understand it, but I had also been told that between 32 weeks and 36 weeks is when gestational diabetes could be at it’s most erratic. Fucking great!
I gave my diabetic nurse a call to see what she thought. Because I hadn’t had three consecutive readings, they weren’t too worried at that point, but told me to obviously keep a close eye on it. We went through what I was eating and she suggested that I wasn’t eating anywhere near enough – I needed an extra 750 calories on top of what I was eating. When you’re already struggling with food, that’s the last thing you want to hear! She also suggested that I tried increasing the carbs and adding a tiny amount of sugar back into my diet – because I had cut them out completely, I could possibly have been allowing levels to dip too low, which forced my body to produce too much blood sugar to compensate. That began to make sense – I had felt quite weak and shaky at times, and that might have been because they were too low. I’m not entirely sure how it all works, but I was willing to try!
Since then, I’ve adapted my diet a little. I’ve had the odd choc ice in the afternoon, and I had ice cream. I’ve had a small bar of chocolate one evening, and I’ve slowly introduced some carbs into my diet – I’ve had the odd sandwich and wrap and some toast. Since then, my blood sugars have mostly remained how they should be. There has been the odd high reading in the morning – that’s when I seem to struggle the most, and can’t tolerate anything carby then – two plain Weetabix sent my levels through the roof (but apparently choc ices are fine – go figure!). However, for the time being, it’s pretty stable. I’ve also increased the amount of water I am drinking, which will hopefully be helping as well.
Haley Neidich, LCSW states that women struggling with GD during their pregnancies need to be extra kind towards themselves. In addition to managing their medications and/or food intake, regular stress management skills like meditation can help to improve symptoms.
The one benefit of having gestational diabetes is that it’s given me the biggest kick up the arse to overhaul my diet. Of course, at the moment, I would do absolutely anything to make sure baby girl is kept safe, but it’s also given me the motivation to stick to a much healthier eating plan when she’s here. Whatever I do now, my chances of getting type 2 diabetes has been increased by up to 50% but I can still take steps to not raise that risk anymore. I also generally feel better eating it and I know I’ve mostly overcome my sweet tooth. I’m going to mostly stick to a low carb diet from now one – lots of salad and fish, vegetables, olive oil, increase my water intake and cut down on the coffee and eat minimal bread, pasta and rice. Obviously, if I do want a treat, I can have one, but it’s all about moderation, and then taking steps (like going for a walk) to compensate for it. That’s a whole new post though!