Week 24 of Pregnancy I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. I had never heard of it before but is said to effect 16 in every 100 pregnancies and usually diagnosed in the second or third trimester.
It happens when your body cannot product enough insulin to balance your blood sugar levels to meet your extra needs during pregnancy.
I was at my 24 week checkup when my midwife was concerned with how my bump was measuring. I was measuring 31 weeks at the time and much bigger than she expected for 24 weeks pregnant. She booked me in for a growth scan and a Glucose Test the next day at the hospital as precaution.
Gestational Diabetes is something that they test for routinely in the majority of countries however in the UK it’s only tested for if you are in the ‘At Risk of Gestational Diabetes’ category which I wasn’t. At risk being BMI over 30, Diabetes in the family or previous baby weighing over 10 pounds.
Going for my test I was pretty confident and didn’t think for one second it would be positive. The test involves giving blood after fasting for 12 hours, drinking a sugary drink they provide you with, waiting 2 hours, then giving your bloods again. (Note if you are scheduled for a glucose test… make sure to take a bottle of water and some fruit with you. Being pregnant and giving blood after fasting for 14 hours is not ideal so make sure you keep well hydrated and have something to eat in your bag for as soon as you have finished the test).
When the results came back the next day as positive I was in shock for the first few days! Have I done this to myself by eating too much sugar in the first trimester? I don’t even have a sweet tooth! How could I have prevented it? I can’t believe I’ve let myself down during pregnancy! Common things I’ve since been told that people think when they are diagnosed. Along with what others think… ‘ahh you’ve had one too many sweet treats’ is something I often had said to me when discussing it. I have since been educated that in fact it is nothing to do with what you have eaten or is it possible to be self inflicted, the amount of insulin your body creates is purely down to your hormones and cannot be something you get after over indulging… which in time made me feel much more at ease with the situation and stopped my self blame.
After being diagnosed I had to wait 5 days for my follow up appointment with my diabetic nurse who would set me up with my home testing blood kit and give me all the information I need for my pregnancy moving forward. During those 5 days, after a googling marathon, I cut back on carbs completely and just tried to eat as much protein and veg as possible. Little did I know that cutting right back on carbs isn’t the best thing to do and by the time I was seeing the nurse I had ketones in my urine meaning my body was burning fat which is not good in pregnancy. She explained the importance of not cutting out carbs, eating carbs little and often with each meal, and the importance of never eating a naked carb. Carbs alone are turned into sugar where as adding fat or protein to your carbs slows down the process allowing your body to balance your blood sugars more efficiently.
During the first appointment you are provided your own at home blood testing kit. You are to test your blood 4 times a day from being diagnosed up until baby is born. Of a morning before any food or drink to know your fasting blood levels (Should be under 5.3Mmol) and then 1 hour after every meal (should be under 7.8Mmol). They say the most important number to watch is the fasting number of a morning. This shows how your body is reacting naturally rather than being effected by something you’ve eaten.
I was so hard on myself to begin with but over time have definitely softened a little and allowed myself a cheat meal or two. I am lucky to still be diet controlled and haven’t needed medication. If your numbers are constantly over the recommended 5.3/7.8 than that’s when medication is needed. I get probably 5 readings a week that are over but not in a particular pattern which shows that it is most likely the food combining were I have gone wrong.
Metformin is the first point of call here in the UK if your numbers are too high. If still no good that’s when insulin is introduced. I remember feeling so worried about the possibility of either of these options. I can’t speak personally on it as I haven’t experienced either but I will say after speaking to so many of you out there on social media that had Gestational Diabetes and were medicated you shared so much positivity and made me feel so much more at ease with the situation taking away my fear of if I did have to be medicated. For anyone out there in this position, so many GD mama’s shared their positive stories, a lot that were having daily Insulin injections and uncontrollable blood sugars that went on to have healthy happy babies with completely natural births.
Talking of births… I had my 36 week growth scan last week which was all positive, baby measuring normal, so I have a morning with the Diabetic team later this week to discuss my birthing options. With GD you are constantly monitored throughout your pregnancy to ensure baby isn’t growing too big. At 36 weeks this is the best time for them to gauge whether they are happy to let you wait until baby comes naturally (up until 40 weeks they won’t let you go over due date) or if you need to be induced early. It is also usually the decider on whether you can have a birth centre birth.
Low Risk pregnancies have the option of Birth Centre, Labour Ward and Home Birth. When diagnosed with GD you are classed as a High Risk birth and expected to give birth on the Labour Ward. There is however an exception if you are diet controlled. If you are diet controlled up until the end and your measurements at 36 weeks are normal, you are able to have a Birth Centre midwife led birth. This was my original plan. I love the idea of it being a relaxed midwife led environment and the option of having a water birth! However, as long as our little one arrives safely into the world, that’s all that matters where ever that may be!
I hope you have found this update useful if you have just been diagnosed or are going for the test! You’ve got this! If you have any questions, tips or stories to share on GD at all. please leave in the comments below.
Lots of love,