Yet again, I’m not great at updating on here. My last pregnancy was an absolute breeze compared to this one. By the title of this post you have probably deduced that I’m 20 weeks, and time is finally starting to fly by. For the past 2 weeks I’ve had sinusitis which I’ve never suffered before and I’m now reluctantly taking an antibiotic for it. 3 weeks ago I had a glucose tolerance test which checks for gestational diabetes. I couldn’t believe it when it came back positive. Gestational diabetes is something I know a bit about in my job but I guess I never thought it would apply to me. So I went from stuffing my face with chocolates at work quite frequently to having to watch every morsel that passed my lips.
What does having Gestational Diabetes mean for me?
Some people think gestational diabetes just means you have to cut back on sugar. Nope, that is definitely not it. Well it is a very small part of it. What you have to remember is that all carbohydrates are also converted to sugar so they have to be cut back too and there is a massive increase in proteins and fats which slow down the metabolism of carbohydrates. In short, without getting too scientific, it means substituting all the white stuff like bread, rice, spaghetti for the healthier stuff – wholemeal / brown and less in general. My shopping basket is now full of cheese, meats, nuts, greek yoghurt, peanut butter, green veg, brown carbs, etc. I miss pizza, I miss biscuits, I miss cake, I miss chocolate, I miss just being able to eat what I want when I want. Apart from that, it’s not too bad; luckily I love cheese. Another unfortunate problem is that I just can’t tolerate cereal, not even porridge. It’s bacon and eggs for breakfast. Gallons of water (recommended 3 litres a day) and exercise also helps regulate blood sugars so I have to work on those once I’m feeling better.
Testing Blood Glucose
The other bit is testing blood sugars. I have a little kit and basically I prick my finger and put a bit of blood on the testing strip and it tells me what my blood sugar is. I have targets of what the number should be, if I can stay within those targets I should be able to manage this with diet. Otherwise it will be tablets and possibly insulin if the numbers go too high. To start with, I tested 6 times a day, it’s now reduced to 4 times a day and so far so good. Then again I’m only 3 weeks in…
What are the implications of having Gestational Diabetes for pregnancy and baby?
So what’s the big deal? Well the bit most people know about is the risk of a big baby which can cause problems with delivery. What people may not realise is that your baby is also exposed to high blood sugars from the mum and produces extra insulin to deal with that. This means when the baby is born, it is still producing more insulin than other babies which can cause its blood sugar to drop dangerously low. This is why babies of gestational diabetic mums have to have their blood sugars monitored and regular feeds to keep everything stable when they are born. If the mother’s blood sugars are kept stable during pregnancy, there is less risk to the baby. Another issue is that the placenta can deteriorate leading to small babies and compromised babies; this is why gestational diabetic mothers have more regular scans to check blood flow to the baby. Most gestational diabetic mums are delivered before 40 weeks and managed by a multidisciplinary team including an obstetrician, diabetic midwives, endocrinologist, dietician and paediatrician (at delivery). Finally, having gestational diabetes increases the risk of getting type 2 diabetes in future. So in one week I have moved from low risk midwife led category to high risk consultant led!
Other information about Gestational Diabetes
I have found so much useful information about what to eat on this brilliant UK website which I would recommend any other mums diagnosed with gestational diabetes check out.
Please note that not everybody is screened for gestational diabetes, there are risk factors, and if you have one or more, you will be offered a glucose tolerance test. More information can be found here. It is estimated that up to 10% of pregnant women have gestational diabetes.
Finally, our wonderful government decided in 2013 that gestational diabetes should not be covered under the Long Term Illness scheme in Ireland. This means that women diagnosed with gestational diabetes have to pay for the test strips (average around 70 cents to 1 euro per strip – a new one needed every time you test your blood sugar so between 20 and 40 a week without additional cost of medication if required). This leads to women who may not be able to afford this testing less and risking damage to themselves and their baby. There is a petition you can sign here for free to try and get the government to reverse that decision, please sign if you have a spare minute.
So that’s me at the moment! Hanging in there with my sugar baby on board! In other news, I’m feeling loads of movements and I still don’t look that pregnant, I’m sure the bump will pop any day now.