Managing Gestational Diabetes
Updated: Jun 18
I thought I would cover a pretty serious topic.
A topic that is seen as scary and that many mothers feel alone in.
An issue that affects many pregnant women every year.
Many women feel they did something wrong and that there was something they could have done to prevent it.
They are told they are higher risk and that their baby can be born with heart defects or breathing issues.
Doctors threaten them to eat better or risk killing their baby.
I’m here to come clean and tell you, you are not alone!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.
What’s The Diagnosis?
My second pregnancy, I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, which is a type of diabetes common among pregnant women.
I never told anyone.
I failed my oral glucose tolerance test and my 3-hour follow-up glucose tolerance test.
I was made to feel like I did this to myself and if I only had a healthy diet and had regular exercise, this would not have happened.
According to WebMD, “During pregnancy, your placenta makes hormones that cause glucose to build up in your blood. Usually, your pancreas can send out enough insulin to handle it. But if your body can’t make enough insulin or stops using insulin as it should, your blood sugar levels rise, and you get gestational diabetes.”
I am an underweight Caucasian woman with low blood sugar, no history of diabetes, no family members with diabetes, no medical conditions or complications, no miscarriages or stillborn, and I had average size babies. The only category I fall under is that I was older than 25 while pregnant with my son, but I was over 25 while I was pregnant with my daughter too and I did not have Gestational Diabetes and had a healthy pregnancy while pregnant with her.
These are the risk factors they consider when diagnosing you with Gestational Diabetes. My health care provider had no answers for me.
What they did do was threaten me to eat better and tell me if I didn’t, I would kill my baby.
For the record, I was not eating bad. Only if you consider the bowl of ice cream, I liked to eat every few days as a treat, having a poor diet.
So, I made my appointment to go into the office, learn how to use my new Glucose Monitor, and get my new diet plan from my doctor.
This appointment went well and the nurse I met with to teach me everything was wonderful. She taught me how to prick my finger, so I had the least amount of pain, and the best time to monitor my sugar.
Will I Need To Change My Life?
I was told I had to make a life change to keep myself and my son healthy.
This life change is not as hard as you think.
One problem I came across was feeling like I was eating too much food. I told my husband I could not eat as much food as they wanted me to, but he assured me that they would not make me eat more than I needed. He was right!
My food plan was based on my height and weight. I have not included my exact balanced diet because it was made specifically for me by a registered dietitian from my health care team. Make sure to follow the recommendations of your healthcare provider.
My plan consisted of Breakfast, Snack, Lunch, Snack, Dinner, Bedtime Snack. I had to eat every 2-3 hours and was told I could not skip meals. Overnight I could not go more than 10 hours, or my blood sugar could drop significantly.
I was required to test my blood glucose levels exactly 2 hours after every meal, except after my Bedtime Snack since I was required to check my sugar every morning after fasting for 10 hours. This would give the most accurate numbers.
Each of my meals were weighed on a food scale, which thankfully my husband is big on eating healthy foods and measuring out food, so we already owned one. If you do not own a food scale, I would suggest investing in one because it will make your life a lot easier.
Amazon sells this Food Scale that is a great price and will save you a lot of time and unnecessary stress.
I was advised to exercise daily for at least 30 minutes as it can lower post and pre meal values. I was doing prenatal yoga and going for walks with my husband and daughter regularly. Regular physical activity was getting more difficult in the 3rd trimester, so I stuck to walking and yoga.
Since I had to prick my finger for my blood test 4 times a day, I noticed my finger starting to feel tough, so I started to rotate pointer fingers. I also invested in a little bag of cotton balls to blot my finger after every prick since this happened to be during the great toilet paper shortage of 2020.
Should I Keep A Gestational Diabetes Blood Sugar Record?
I kept a very detailed journal of my daily blood sugar levels and all the food I was eating. I also kept a blood sugar list that the doctors supplied because they had to take a photocopy of my journal every time I went in for an appointment. On their list, I would note what food I had before my sugar level was too high in the comment section, so they knew what caused my level to go up.
My doctors told me I did not have to keep the detailed journal, but I did it for my own piece of mind. This daily journal helped me keep track of the times I tested my sugar, exactly what I ate at each meal, and helped me understand what foods raised my blood sugar.
Even though I didn’t have to keep this journal, my doctors were happy I did because I only had a number outside my normal range a handful of times in the time that I had gestational diabetes. I was able to prick my finger only 2 times a day by my last few weeks of pregnancy.
Please know that some women follow their meal plan perfectly and still have high blood sugar levels. I was able to keep my sugar under control by food control and I was not put on insulin injections. This is just how my body was reacting and every woman’s body is different.
If you are planning on keeping a detailed Food Journal, I would recommend this adorable Gestational Diabetes Daily Planner that can help you to track your Blood Sugar, Food Intake, Nutrients & Daily Schedule.
Since I had my Glucose Monitor in a little carrying case, my detailed journal, the doctor’s blood sugar record list, my meal plan, and my bag of cotton balls, I needed a cute bag to carry everything in.
My Graphic Designer cousin, Katie, has a Redbubble Shop, and I was able to buy the most adorable Tote Bag with one of her designs on it through her shop.
Side note: If you love this design, check out the rest of Katie’s Designs on Redbubble that you can put on a Tote bag or any of the products offered. (I don’t get commission for this; I just love her designs).
The best part about this bag is I didn’t have to worry about forgetting to bring any of my Gestational Diabetes stuff with me when I left the house. I could easily bring the bag to doctor’s appointments and family’s homes when we could visit. Although this was at the start of the Pandemic Shutdowns, so I found myself in my house most of the time.
What Should I Eat?
I could get into a long list of foods you can and cannot have, but if you have been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, your doctor will have given you a healthy eating plan they have approved for you.
What I can give you is some advice on how to feel fulfilled with the lifestyle changes and feel like you are eating foods you like.
I was allowed to have an item on my milk exchange before bed. Since I love eating ice cream before bed, I tried to mimic having a bowl of ice cream. I would have a cup of yogurt with whipped cream on top. Light whipped topping was one of my free foods that could be added to any meal, so this was a bonus. Although yogurt is not ice cream, I felt fulfilled eating it before bed and my numbers were where they needed to be the next morning.
Make sure you stock up on your favorite fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats that are listed as foods you can have. Get creative with your options and make meals out of those foods that will make you feel great.
One of my dinners was Flank Steak topped with Chipotle seasoning, garlic, and green onions, a side of steamed sweet potatoes and carrots, and a half cup of apple fruit juice. This meal consisted of all foods I could have.
While these meals may not be exactly what you can have, I’m hoping it helps you see that you can still fulfill those pregnancy cravings while you have Gestational Diabetes. I never felt like I was missing out on junk food or that I was having terrible cravings. If anything, I felt that my cravings went away once I started my new Meal Plan because I was eating all the necessary food groups and I was making healthy food choices.
Can I Still Have Other Issues?
You can, but the important part is you don't stress about it!
One problem I did come across was not having much weight gain before I gave birth. I weighed exactly the same weight the day I started my new eating plan as I did the day I gave birth to my son.
I am a very small person and I have had to watch my weight my whole life to make sure I do not lose too much. This did start to concern the doctors and they had to monitor me closely to make sure the baby was growing, which increased my risk of pregnancy complications.
Thankfully, my son was a perfectly healthy baby and growing right on schedule my whole pregnancy.
My doctors did mention having to induce me on my due date because they worried I was high risk and I could have a large baby, but I ended up going into labor the morning of my due date. I did not have any other complications, which included no high blood pressure and a healthy heart rate for both mom and baby.
Our healthcare team checked both of our blood sugars regularly at the hospital after I gave birth, and they were both perfect the whole time. I was able to stop my Gestational Diabetes Meal Plan the day I gave birth.
While this is how my story ends, do not be concerned if you are required to check your sugar even after you give birth. I know a few women who continued to monitor their sugar for weeks after giving birth and they are perfectly healthy now and so are their children.
The Takeaway from all of this is that you should follow your doctor’s advice and listen to what they have to say to make an informed decision. However, do not let them scare you into thinking getting Gestational Diabetes is totally your fault.
At the end of the day, your health and the health of your baby is the most important thing.
Do you have Gestational Diabetes, or have you gone through this?
Share your story below!