The blessings of gestational diabetes
My finger poking device – up to 7 times a day. Not fun!
About 4 weeks ago I went and did a glucose intolerance test for gestational diabetes. My midwife actually suggested that I didn’t need to, given the fact that I have a very low sugar/starch diet and I am really active. Nevertheless I wanted to find out – what if I did and I didn’t know? What choices would I have to make differently about labor and delivery? Being the “I just need to know” kind of person, I decided to take the test.
Lo and behold – I have gestational diabetes. And my results weren’t just border line, I POSITIVELY HAVE gestational diabetes.
At first it came as a shock, then disbelief – “How can it be? Have I somehow believe that I am really healthier than I actually am?”
After some extensive research on the topic and my doctor reassuring me that I had nothing to do with the cause of this condition, here are some facts I’d like to share:
First of all, gestational diabetes is brought on by the growing pregnancy hormones in a woman’s body as her pregnancy progresses, impairing her insulin sensitivity (ability to process sugar).
Secondly, for women who are already pre-diabetic or have Type 2 diabetes, it is likely that they will also suffer from gestational diabetes (since their insulin sensitivity is already impaired to begin with). However, for those who did not have pre-existing diabetic condition, the following factors make them more susceptible to GD as their pregnancy hormones grow:
- Strong family history of diabetes
- Over 35
- South Asians, Hispanics, African Americans, Natives
- Over-weight or obese
I hit 3 out of 4 of the risk factors, and glad that I confirmed it for myself.
After the denial wore off, I decided to fully embrace the condition. Bring it on! I’m going to get on top of this! Here are a few surprising things I found in the process:
- It has forced me to pay close attention to what I eat and got me back on my Paleo diet. My husband and I have been following the Paleo diet for the past 2 years, with cheat meals here and there. Of course once I learned that I was pregnant, those cheat meals became more frequent because I felt like I have a license to do so. Since being diagnosed, I went back to strict Paleo eating and it is exactly what I need to keep my blood sugar steady. Which works out well because that’s the way that our house hold has been eating anyway.
- I now have an appreciation on what diabetes is and what can be done to manage it. I have had a crash course on what diabetes is, how it’s measured, what to pay attention to, and how to manage it. This comes in really handy as my dad has been suffering diabetic for years and I’ve wanted to help but didn’t know how.
- Do not rely on a nutritionist to tell you what you should/shouldn’t eat. My experience with nutritionists at the diabetic clinic was what I would called…unhelpful. Not only was their meal planning for me wayyyy off, the only thing they based their advice on was the Canadian Food Guide, which is both out of date and too general. Personally, I have a much better understanding (than they do) on how food affects my energy level, physical, and emotional well being. Within 2 weeks I was able to fine tune exactly what and when I should eat in order to keep my blood sugar level within the optimal level.
So overall, not only has gestational diabetes “forced” me to get back to the Paleo diet we have committed to, I now pay much more attention to the food I’m putting in my body, and I have a much better appreciation on diabetes which has affected so many of my family members.
Now I just hope that my baby girl will come out being healthy and strong.