So you had gestational diabetes now what? A while ago I published a post on what happens after you get diagnosed with gestational diabetes. But what about after you have your baby? I have had gestational diabetes in two out of three of my pregnancies. Before we go further let me tell you gestational diabetes is not your fault it's your placentas, so that's the good news. When your placenta leaves your body so does (usually) your diabetes!
Just like a normal pregnancy I had CRAVINGS! However, with gestational diabetes, you need to be extra careful especially if you want to avoid insulin. (I was able to prevent insulin use with my pregnancies.) I had the strongest craving for a subway sandwich. I could not have a subway sandwich and keep my numbers where they needed to be, so that was the first thing I sent my husband out for after I had my baby. So my advice to pregnant mamas with gestational diabetes is to really think about what you want because that will be the best meal you've ever had.
So what happens to you in the hospital? Nothing. As I said before as soon as your placenta leaves your body so does your diabetes (most of the time). However, your baby's blood sugar will be checked regularly. While you were pregnant your baby's pancreas will have made extra insulin which could cause very low blood glucose levels at birth. The doctors want to make sure that your baby's blood sugar levels can remain normal. With my first gd pregnancy I kept my blood glucose levels around 100 her blood sugar was low in the hospital and they were concerned. With my second gd pregnancy I kept my blood sugar around 120 and she had no problems with her blood sugar in the hospital.
Do you need to use formula if your baby has low blood sugar? No. I was instructed by the doctors to give them formula but I declined. Instead, I chose to hand express my colostrum and supplement with that in-between feedings. This worked and brought my baby's blood sugar up. During my second gd pregnancy, I hand expressed my colostrum while I was pregnant and brought some with me to the hospital. Now, If you would prefer to use formula that is a-ok. But moms that desperately want to breastfeed need to know that there are other options, that they are not always told about, rather than supplementing with formula.
How do you collect colostrum? Antenatal colostrum harvesting should only be done after you have spoken to a health care provider. Doctors say to not hand express before you are full-term because it can cause your body to produce oxytocin. Other things *wink can also cause your body to produce oxytocin and those are (usually) deemed safe for your entire pregnancy. So my advice is to always talk to your doctor and make an informed decision. Anyway! how do you actually express it? Well, the best way I can describe it is you squeeze it out. You put your hand in a c shape around your breast and squeeze. You will want to have a cup under your nipple to catch the colostrum. The colostrum is thick and yellow. You will not get a lot like you would pumping breast milk. Then You take a syringe. I found some individually wrapped sterile mouth syringes on Amazon for pretty cheap. You basically suck up the colostrum into the syringe, then put the syringe cap on it, write a date, and freeze it. Colostrum is good in the freezer for up to a year. I still use my frozen colostrum as supplements for my whole family when they are sick! You can also use it on burns or dry skin.
So now that you are out of the hospital what's next? About six weeks after you have your baby your doctor will recommend you take another blood glucose test just like the one you took when you were pregnant. This will tell you if you still have diabetes. About two to three percent of women will continue to be diabetic after they have their babies. This is not common so not something that you necessarily need to worry about. For reference, I had diabetes for two pregnancies and after my pregnancies, I tested slightly above hypoglycemic meaning I was very much not diabetic.
Having gestational diabetes during pregnancy can increase your risk later in life of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, about 50% of women with gestational diabetes get type 2 diabetes later on in life. You can avoid this by living a healthy lifestyle and eating healthy as well as exercising regularly. When I say exercising I mean staying active. My favorite way to stay active is hiking. Find something you enjoy and do it. Some may think I'm crazy but I love going hiking with my kids! When you have a baby strapped to your back that's an extra workout.
So you had gestational diabetes. Everything is going to be okay. Your baby may need a little extra in the hospital whether that is formula or colostrum, you will make the best decision for your baby. Take a deep breath mama you got this!