I became pregnant with my second child when I was 35 years old and after having a smooth pregnancy with my first child, I wasn't expecting any bumps in the road the second time around. You can only imagine my surprise when my phone rang and my OB braced me for the unexpected news..."You have Gestational Diabetes." My heart felt as if it just sunk and I felt numb. Then I panicked. Then I was in disbelief. Then I was scared. My doctor kept talking, explaining everything in detail, but all I heard was silence.
I wondered how could this be...I didn't have it with my daughter?
This pregnancy complication is fairly common, affecting four to seven percent of expectant women. Older women are more at risk of developing this pregnancy complication, as are obese women. Women who have a history of diabetes or those who had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy are also at greater risk.
I was 31 when I was pregnant with my first child, but looking back I could have been borderline GD because I gained a tremendous amount of weight (60 lbs.) and my daughter was born weighing in at a hefty 9 lbs!
As I accepted the news, I pledged to do everything right this time around and follow my doctor's orders to the tee. I also didn't want to have to take medication if I could manage it with diet and exercise. Keeping an eye on your weight gain (both before and during pregnancy) can help prevent gestational diabetes. So too can good diet habits and regular exercise. If you're diagnosed with gestational diabetes, scrupulous control of blood sugar levels will mitigate the potential risks, like developing type 2 diabetes, associated with the condition. Your practitioner will likely put you on a special diet and will suggest simple exercises to keep your gestational diabetes under control.
I was fortunate that my insurance allowed me to seek guidance at an Endocrinology center where I gained valuable insight about the disease and how to create my own meals and count carbs and sugars. I also exercised every day and if my blood sugar spiked, I would toss on my sneakers and get moving. Within 30 minutes, my sugar leveled out.
I kept a detailed journal of my diet including all the nutrient counts (I was a bit compulsive about it lol) and recorded all of my results. I always brought this to my doctor's office and he was pleased to see how committed I was.
I must admit, it wasn't easy and I was frustrated many days. Sneaking off to the bathroom after each meal and testing my blood at work took a toll on me. Going out to dinner and asking for the nutritional guide everytime before I ordered got frustrating. (The good news is that now in 2014 restaurants are getting better at providing nutritional info). I remember going to restaurants and they didn't have a guide and so we would have to pack up my daughter and go somewhere else. Oh, and the questions from (caring) friends and family members..."Can Kristin eat this? Can she eat that? Do I have to prepare her something special for Thanksgiving? (I actually packed my own Thanksgiving dinner and took it to my mother in laws!!!)
But, looking back it was all worth it! I only gained 20 lbs. so I didn't have much to loose post pregnancy. My son also weighed in at a light 7 lbs and so he practically slid right out! A much different experience from the 9 lb delivery of my first child, which came with an episiotomy!!
My son is turning 4 in November and I am free of Diabetes. I continue to get checked regularly and keep a better diet than I ever did before I had my experience with GD. So, there's a happy ending to my story!
If you are in a similar situation, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. I'd love to hear your story and share experiences together. The EmpowHER community is such a wonderful place to connect with others with GD! I look forward to hearing from you!
Best wishes for a healthy and happy pregnancy!