So You Have Gestational Diabetes, Now What?



Getting diagnosed with gestational diabetes can be really scary. There is a time of uncertainty between getting the diagnosis and getting your glucose meter. There is a lot of fear. I know the first thing that came to my mind when I was diagnosed was "Have I been hurting my baby this whole time?" The answer to that is probably not.


Now you've just been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, now what? Take a deep breath. It is going to be okay. There is probably going to be a period of time between now and actually speaking with a dietician/receiving a meter. Do not freak out, and whatever you do, do not do what I did. The first pregnancy that I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes (I have had it for two pregnancies) I freaked out. I went on a binge and purge cycle where I immediately stopped eating all carbs and then I would feel like crap (of course) and then end up binging a ton of carbs because of my cravings. It got so bad that I would be a mess after days of no carbs and a binge. My husband saw me and knew that I was struggling. He found me upset and distraught starving and not knowing what to eat. He told me to get ready and took me to apple bees. He said he wanted to show me that there are so many options for me to eat. So I got a menu with all of the carb count listed for every food and ordered a plate. This really helped me relax and actually feel full after a meal and I kept my blood sugar down! Cutting out carbs completely was incredibly unhealthy for me and worse than how I had been eating leading up to my diagnosis.


The timeline of having gestational diabetes goes something like this

  1. Fail the first glucose tolerance test

  2. fail the second glucose tolerance test

  3. get your diagnosis

  4. freak out

  5. meet with a dietician/glucose meter

  6. freak out some more

  7. finally, feel confidence

  8. No longer have diabetes

During the first pregnancy I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes it was a struggle to find things that I was able to eat at first. But it got better! It was scary at first and then as I took my blood sugar and kept track of my food it got much easier. The scariest part of having gestational diabetes is the fear of possibly hurting your baby. That was my biggest fear. I was very cautious with my food and I kept my blood sugar around 100 on my meter after every meal.


After I had my baby, the nurse checked her blood sugar every hour. She struggled to keep it up. She also had horrible jaundice as well so she was very sleepy. I was advised by the doctor to supplement with formula to help her get her blood sugar up and bring down her jaundice. I did not want to give her formula so I hand expressed colostrum into a syringe and supplemented with that instead. It worked just like supplementing with formula would have and kept her blood sugar up and the extra colostrum mixed with the lights got her jaundice down. Remember that just because the doctor suggests something does not mean that you need to do it. There is nothing wrong with wanting to supplement with formula but it is rare that it is a necessity.


The second time I had gestational diabetes I was much more confident. I had a feeling I would be diagnosed again so before my second glucose tolerance test, I purchased a meter off of amazon. I would not advise this. I found out later that my meter from amazon was way off and was reading my sugar levels as much higher than they actually were. This caused me to undereat carbs and feel really defeated before I was even able to get my prescribed meter. I felt like I was not able to eat anything and my body felt horrible. After I got my meter and tested my sugars I realized how off the cheap amazon meter was. Save yourself the stress and just eat balanced meals instead.


I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during my last pregnancy at the worst time. Right before Halloween. Literally the day before. That means that I had diabeties for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. It was rough. However, I knew that I did not want to binge and potentially hurt my baby so I added small sweets to almost every meal. I knew that if I restricted myself while I had tons of candy and sweets in my house I had a higher chance of binging than if I had a little bit throughout the day.


With this pregnancy, I kept my sugars around 115. I think that this was much better than keeping them around 100 as I did for my last pregnancy. My levels did fluctuate though sometimes they would be under 100 and a couple of times they went to around 135. Another thing that I did differently is I collected colostrum. Now I always will advise speaking with your doctor before doing anything during pregnancy, however, I would recommend researching the benefits of collecting colostrum (especially when having gestational diabetes) and how to collect it while you are still pregnant. I collected over 100 vials of 2.5ml of colostrum while I was pregnant. I knew that with my last two pregnancies I needed to supplement with colostrum so this time I wanted to be prepared. I had no trouble bringing a bag of them to the hospital and having them stored in the fridge until I needed them.


After I had her she had no issues with her blood sugar. They checked every hour and she continued to be stable. She did have slight jaundice but that was fixed really quickly with some colostrum supplementation and the lights. When I noticed it had been more than three hours since her last feed, I asked the nurse to bring me a vial of colostrum and I would slowly give her some. The nurses were very helpful and took my colostrum to the refrigerator and brought me it warmed up whenever I asked.


After those two experiences, I know that if I am diagnosed again I will be keeping my sugars around 115 and collecting as much colostrum as I can before I go into labor. Getting diagnosed with gestational diabeties can be really scary. Below I have a normal day of food for me that would keep my sugars around 115. (Everyone's diabeties journey is different. What worked for me might not work for you.)


Breakfast:

3 eggs

hashbrown

coffee with creamer and Truvia


snack:

apple

cheese


Lunch:

sandwich with lunch meat (warmed), cheese, and veggies

apple

cheese stick


snack:

crackers

cheese


Dinner:

protein: chicken, pork, beef, fish

Potatoes or rice

vegetables


desert:

strawberries

whipped cream


I found it best for me to have protein and/or fat for every carb. If I was going to eat an apple I would pair it with cheese. If I wanted to have candy with my meal I would eat an extra cheese stick. I would also eat a lot of cheese sticks and other "free" foods during the day. It was a process to find out what foods I could eat and what I couldn't but it gets easier.


If you are reading this and you just got diagnosed, it is going to be okay. Take a deep breath and know that you are going to do whatever you need to for you and your baby to be healthy. Remember that there is nothing you can do to cause gestational diabeties it is just something you either get or you don't. Everything is going to be okay and just take it one meal at a time.



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