*This article is for a college paper I am writing for my nutrition essentials for nursing class.
What is diabetes? It is a disease that affects how your cells use sugar, or glucose. Gestational diabetes is found during pregnancy when a mother’s blood sugar is found to be abnormally high which is a risk for the mother and baby’s health.
As with any of form of diabetes, it may not initially show symptoms but they person may show signs of extreme thirst. It’s causes are still very much unknown but it is believed that the excess weight gain some mother’s experience may play a part in the causation. They’ve also found that women of non-white race have a higher risk of developing it as well.
Normally, hormones can keep blood sugar levels at a normal range but when pregnant, hormones throw you for a loop and make your body’s ability to process blood sugar efficiently a lot harder. Which is why Doctors regularly check you during pregnancy to ensure you don’t have or haven’t developed gestational diabetes.
When I was pregnant with my twins I was at a very high risk for developing gestational diabetes and was checked often. Yeah, those nasty sweet drinks and hours of waiting are SO fun. But after getting the green light every time it really interested me on what exactly gestational diabetes was and how it occurred.
As I stated in the beginning, gestational diabetes is when your cells are unable to process glucose properly and occur when pregnancy hormones are unable to regulate your blood sugar levels. And as a person without diabetes you would imagine the prevention requirements would be quite cut and dry.. But there is a lot that goes into not just diabetic remedies but gestational wise cures.
Eating more nutritious foods is the number one recommendation for mothers with gestational diabetes. Obviously your goal isn’t to lose weight because you’re growing a sweet little human who needs all of the nutrients they can get; Instead, ensure you’re eating foods that are low in fat and calories with a focus on lean proteins, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits!
The types of foods recommended to eat include lean, high protein meats such as chicken, fish, eggs and tofu. Along with the healthy fats found in avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. Low GI fruits such as berries and fresh vegetables are all wonderful examples of foods to stick to.
It is pertinent to stay away from processed foods along with anything high in simple carbs such as white bread, pasta, rice and white potatoes. Fruit juices are high in sugar and pastries/dessert are high in carbs and sugars with low nutritional values. Resources are found all over the internet that include foods to eat and foods to avoid.
Watching portion sizes and staying active, (As much is possible because you never know what pregnancy can do to your physical abilities) regardless of the activity, can make a huge difference in prevention and treating gestational diabetes. Being more health conscious and mindful in your lifestyle choices is what will make the biggest impact.
Monitoring baby and blood sugar levels are very important parts of your gestational diabetes treatment plan. Doctors observe blood sugar levels in the hopes they’re maintaining healthy ranges (hopefully without the need of medication) and ensuring that baby is safe, developing properly and that there are no complications. However, medication intervention may be needed in the case of irregular blood sugar levels.
There are many resources for mothers who need support or information regarding gestational diabetes, such as the American Diabetes Association. They have support communities for fellow mothers to discuss and ask questions regarding their condition at https://community.diabetes.org/discuss/viewcategory/7. As well as information regarding their medical needs found at https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/gestational-diabetes.
In order to better understand gestational diabetes through subjective information from an actual mother who had suffered from this condition I reached out to a mom in a local Mom group I’m in and interviewed her. For privacy’s sake we’ll call her Lelani.
Me: Lelani, can you describe to me how you felt when you were told you had gestational diabetes?
Lelani: Scared. I didn’t know much about it and was worried it had affected my baby somehow.
Me: I’m sure! Did you have a feeling you may have had it before you were diagnosed with it? Did you have any symptoms?
Lelani: No, actually. I was actually quite surprised! I was only pregnant with a singleton and hadn’t gained much weight so I was kind of blind sided by the diagnosis.
Me: Were you given much information about your health, what to do and steps moving forward with this diagnosis?
Lelani: I was! My Doctor was very informative on my treatment plan. I was instructed to eat whole foods in smaller but more frequent meals (5 times a day to be exact), was told to walk twice a day everyday and I had to come in more regularly for check ups to ensure my baby and myself were staying healthy.
Me: Your daughter is now 6 months old. How did everything work out at the end of your pregnancy up to now?
Lelani: It felt like a normal pregnancy. I followed the Doctor’s instructions and was able to have a normal delivery and after my daughter was born it was gone!
Me: Did your doctor check your blood sugar levels at all after delivery to ensure it went away and did they check your baby?
Lelani: Yep! And all was good. Baby was healthy and my blood sugar levels were completely normal, haven’t had a single issue since!
Me: Wonderful! Gestational diabetes is different for everyone but I’m glad yours wasn’t too rough on you and your sweet baby!
Like I stated above, of course gestational diabetes is different for everyone. In the case of Lelani it was scary but she didn’t suffer from any symptoms and it didn’t affect her baby or her health at all, especially because she followed the Doctor’s orders after receiving her diagnosis.
As an aspiring nurse who wishes to work as a Labor and Delivery nurse this information is very useful to me as I can better assist Mothers in need to ensure a healthy pregnancy!
Do you have experience with gestational diabetes? Comment below and tell me your story!