Living With Gestational Diabetes

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Image via bodytell /Flickr
 

Around the 28 week mark in your pregnancy, your OB or care provider will order what's called a “one-hour glucose test.”

Basically, the test involves chugging two vials of a sugary, (usually) orange drink as fast as you can and then heading into the lab an hour later to get your blood drawn. If your body is doing its job properly, it's able to maintain proper blood sugar levels in the blood even through the massive influx of sugary, orange fructose sugar.

If your body isn't quite working properly, however, the sugar is too much for your body to handle and you will have excess levels of sugar in your blood. A second, more intensive test will reveal if the first sugary test was just a fluke, or a sign of a more widespread problem in your body.

{ MORE:   Gestational Diabetes }

Unfortunately, if the second test reveals that your body still isn't properly managing its blood sugar levels in the blood, you become the new owner of the “gestational diabetes” diagnosis. 
 
And although you may already be familiar with the ways that gestational diabetes can be dangerous for your baby (excess weight, respiratory problems, affect his or her ability to breastfeed), you may be wondering: what exactly will having gestational diabetes look like for you?
 
Symptoms of gestational diabetes:
 
To start with, what are the symptoms of gestational diabetes? Is there a way to tell you have it before you get diagnosed?
  • According to the Mayo Clinic, most cases of gestational diabetes are asymptomatic in women, meaning they cause no symptoms. 
  • Gestational diabetes, like regular diabetes, can cause excessive thirst and increased urination. Which, when you're pregnant, can be pretty tough to determine!
  • However, some women report general feelings of being “unwell” or “dizzy” or morning sickness that seems to come back suddenly. 
  • Furthermore, there isn't really a known cause for gestational diabetes–all types of women can get it, so it can be tough to predict. 

 What happens next:

  • After your diagnosis and depending on how high your blood sugar levels were, your care provider will determine how many times a day that you will need to monitor your blood sugar.
  • You will check your blood sugar using a simple diabetes system, following a 1,2,3 step process: 1) wipe your finger with an alcohol wipe, 2) prick your finger with the needle, 3) collect the blood sample from your finger and insert the testing stick into the monitoring system machine. 
  • Usually, you can expect to check your blood sugar in the morning, with meals, and again at bedtime. You may also have to write your sugars down, along with a log of all the food you eat during the day. (Or night!)

What's the treatment?

  • For some women, simply monitoring their blood sugar and watching what they will eat will be enough to keep their blood sugar under control. 
  • Other women will need a combination of diet, exercise, and medication to control their blood sugar. The Mayo Clinic reports that 10-20% of women with gestational diabetes need some sort of medication to control their blood sugar. 
  • Medications to treat gestational diabetes include oral and injectable forms of insulin, the hormone responsible for controlling and breaking down sugar in the body. 

 After the baby is born:

  • After your baby is born, you can expect a few extra precautions with your baby to make sure that he or she wasn't negatively affected by your diabetes. The nurses will most likely take up to five blood samples from your baby's heel–just a small poke to test his or her blood sugar levels. Because blood sugar can drop so rapidly in newborn babies, they will take repeated samples every 30 minutes until they are sure the blood sugar level has stabilized. 
  • And as for you? Unfortunately, after you experience gestational diabetes, you do have an increased change of developing Type II diabetes later on in life, as well as gestational diabetes again with future pregnancies. 
  • So for some women, blood sugar levels can continue to be a problem, others may find that delivery stabilizes them for good. 
  • And what's one last way you can help protect you and your baby from complications from gestational diabetes? Breastfeeding, of course! The Mayo Clinic states that breastfeeding can help reduce your risk of developing diabetes again and help maintain you and your baby at a healthy weight. 

What do you think?

Living With Gestational Diabetes

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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1 comment

  1. Lindsay says:

    Is there anyone else living with this? I not only failed my first test miserably (to where they didn’t even give me the 2nd test), but am now having to take medication to bring my fasting numbers down. This is very depressing as I feel like I have failed as a mom already- and though I have changed my diet, I still feel as if I am hungry all the time. I am hoping others out there will have recipe recommendations so I can not only bring my numbers down, but feel better about feeding my baby.

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