Gestational Diabetes

My short and sweet story!

Gestational Diabetes was something I knew little about, and simply never considered getting while pregnant. I thought only overweight, junk food loving, unfit women got gestational diabetes. I am not any of those things. I’m a healthy weight, eat very healthily (with a few treats for sanity!) and have exercised my whole life. Now at the age of 28 I was facing the prospect that all my commitment to my health meant nothing, and if I didn’t change I could potentially hurt my unborn baby.

While I freaked out initially, I then started to do some research, and really I didn’t have to do much differently, but it was about understanding my sugar levels and start to eat a low GI diet. Whoa. A diet? I’m so anti ‘diets’. But the more I looked into the low GI world, the more it made sense. The further I investigated, the more I found my idea of eating and nutrition was actually quite closely aligned with the low GI concept of how the human body works, and the relationship between food and blood sugar levels.

While diabetes is reaching epidemic levels, and gestational diabetes is on the rise, I’ve found most of what I had seen the media was relating all diabetes with obesity. It’s not always the case. When I was diagnosed, I had to complete some compulsory appointments with diabetes specialists. The problem I found with the help I received with the diabetes educator and the nutritionist was they were coming from the assumption I was eating like a little piggy, and I needed a good wake up to the benefits of eating vegetables and grains. Honestly, the horror stories they told me as a pregnant woman shocked me to the bone, and the impact my choices had on my baby left me walking away wanting to vomit. It was horrendous and patronising, with absolutely no effort to understand where I had come from or the life I live.

I want to help women and men eat healthier, more nutritious foods, and I believe through the knowledge that only health practitioners seem to know, we can change our eating habits through understanding our bodies.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

A quick overview: the carbohydrates we consume are broken down by our bodies and made into glucose. The glucose is released into our blood stream. Our body then creates a hormone called insulin. Insulin takes the glucose out of our blood and allows the glucose to be stored into our cells to be used as energy now or for later. Without insulin, the glucose cannot leave our blood and enter our cells, and is therefore the glucose is stuck in our blood stream. Diabetics either don’t have enough insulin, or their insulin does not work effectively.

In pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones that help the baby to grow and develop. For women with gestational diabetes these hormones also block the effectiveness of the mother’s insulin, resulting in gestational diabetes.

In most cases gestational diabetes will go after the baby is born, and not effect the baby at all if you do the correct thing during the pregnancy, and manage your gestational diabetes through monitoring, diet and exercise. However you are warned that you and your baby have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

3-8% of pregnant women get gestational diabetes. The women most at risk of developing gestational diabetes are those overweight, people from Indigenous, Vietnamese, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Polynesian or Melanesian backgrounds, while other risk factors are being over 30, having had gestational diabetes in previous pregnancies, or like in my case, having a family member with type 2 diabetes.

So what did I have to do about it? Eat a low GI diet, monitor my blood sugar levels (yes, this meant pricking my finger every couple of hours!), and exercise. This successfully managed my gestational diabetes, made me feel great, and my baby was born healthy and unaffected.

The future beyond Gestational Diabetes

Because I had gestational diabetes, I have a 15-30 percent higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes in the next 15 years. That goes for my little baby too. So I’ve continued on a healthy low GI lifestyle incorporating exercise, no processed foods and focusing on lowering my stress levels.

Exercise and GD

Exercise is very important with regulating your blood sugar levels too. Getting more oxygen into your body and working up a bit of a sweat can drastically reduce the effect of high blood sugar levels. If I felt I’d eaten too much dried fruit, rice or had a little treat, I’d go for a walk and it would instantly lower my sugar levels. Amazing!

More Information at These Links:

Diabetes Australia
Living with Gestational Diabetes

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