I Have Gestational Diabetes – Where Do I Start?

“I have gestational diabetes” can be a tremendously terrifying thought.  You want to cry, scream, yell and yet you don’t know what else to do.

Some common things you can do to help you get started on the right track with managing your gestational diabetes are great to start with, especially when you don’t know much to say past the initial “I have gestational diabetes“.

When you first learn that you have gestational diabetes, it’s very important to understand that it can be controlled well and you can deliver a healthy baby.  I have gestational diabetes does not have to be something said with trembling in your voice.  Let’s talk about the steps involved in managing and controlling gestational diabetes.

I have gestational diabetes” step one for control is to look at the types of sugar that you are eating.  You may drink a glass of juice or drink regular soda or even have a candy bar sometimes because of cravings.  Now that you have gestational diabetes that has to stop being a random thing, and it needs to be part of the total calories that you’re allowed to eat for the day as well as the amount of carbohydrate that you’re allowed to eat for the day.  Simple sugars easily go into your bloodstream and increase your blood sugar, and depending on how high the blood sugar goes it can transfer extra sugar to your baby through your placenta.  The amount of simple sugar in a food can be found by reading the label, under the area labeled carbohydrate.  There is a section called sugars that indicates the grams of simple sugars that are in the food.  Until you have the control of your gestational diabetes, you want to eat a minimal amount of simple sugars.

“I have gestational diabetes” step 2 for control is that you can make your diet better in many ways.  You should replace the sugary foods with healthier foods that are whole grain instead – higher fiber helps you feel full longer without increasing your blood sugars.  Whole-grain foods provide the amount of carbohydrate that you need without giving you extra simple sugars.  High-fiber foods break down more slowly in your digestive system, allowing your body to absorb the carbohydrate in them at a slower pace and therefore deal with the increase in blood sugar over time.  Initially, you want to avoid more of the white foods that, although they are complex carbohydrates, tend to break down quickly and increase your blood sugar as much as a candy bar.  Start eating whole fruits and vegetables as well as whole-wheat bread instead of juices and plain white bread.

“I have gestational diabetes” step 3 for control starts with distributing your calories throughout the day by eating 3 small meals and 3 snacks if you can.  This helps your body to use insulin properly and manage your hunger and your blood sugar.  Most women need to balance their calories out to a 40-50% carbohydrate diet, 30% fat and the rest as protein.  At breakfast, you may want to eat a protein and a complex carbohydrate.  This might be something like a piece of ham and whole-wheat toast.  For snacks, you should try to combine a carbohydrate and protein food as well. Lunch and dinner meals may be a little larger and need to have a combination of fat, protein and carbohydrate to make you feel full and get your needed calories.

You may not realize it, but while you’re pregnant, you probably need to consume around 2000 calories a day.  Using these steps to control your gestational diabetes will help you start off in the right direction to controlling your blood sugars and having a healthy pregnancy.

“I have gestational diabetes” may be the first thought you have, but you can get more help with a gestational diabetes meal plan that includes all the needed steps and ways to manage your diet to have a safe and healthy pregnancy.  Click here to find out more about our gestational diabetes meal plans.

Gestational Diabetes Complications – Learn about the 5 Most Common Complications During Pregnancy [Are You at Risk?]

During your pregnancy, with every visit to your doctor you grow more excited about having a new baby.  You may have a few worries, but with gestational diabetes, you can have more complications than normal.  Being aware of what the complications are can help you recognize when they may be occurring and call your doctor if necessary.

One of the most common of the gestational diabetes complications is having a larger than normal baby.  This puts you as the mom more likely to gain too much weight.  When your blood sugar is continually high as is the case with uncontrolled gestational diabetes, your baby’s blood sugar is also high.  The baby grows larger than normal because it is getting excess calories and its body puts those extra calories into fat storage.

Another of the most common gestational diabetes complications is having to have a C-section.  At delivery, if the baby is too large, you may be unable to have a regular birth.  C-sections can cost more money because they are an actual operation.  They also increase the recovery time for mom to an average of 6 weeks.  With the new baby, recovering from a C-section can be difficult.

Thirdly, more important gestational diabetes complications can arise related to high blood pressure, which can also lead to preeclampsia.  Preeclampsia is usually shown by swelling in your hands and feet it will go away and excess protein in your urine tests which indicates kidney damage.  High blood pressure could eventually lead to seizures.  Women with gestational diabetes or diabetes during pregnancy tend to have high blood pressure more often.

Hypoglycemia is part of multifaceted group of gestational diabetes complications and can lead to a great number of problems.  Your obstetrician may place you on insulin or another medication to help you control your blood sugars to help reduce further complications.  If you happen to forget to eat but have taken your insulin for the day or the meal, your blood sugar might get dangerously low.  It’s important to check your blood sugar throughout the day as recommended by your doctor.

Finally, developing diabetes later in life is one of the most common gestational diabetes complications.  Women who have gestational diabetes during their pregnancy are at twice the risk of developing type 2 diabetes within 10 years.  A great way to reduce your risk is through controlling your gestational diabetes and periodically having checkups where your doctor monitors your blood sugar levels about every 3 years.

If you follow a healthy meal plan and eat on a regular basis throughout the day, you can avoid, or at least reduce the risk of many of the complications associated with gestational diabetes.  Learning more about the disease can help you control these gestational diabetes complications, read more in our email series.  Go there now and sign up for more information.

I Had Gestational Diabetes, Just Like You

I had gestational diabetes with each of my two pregnancies.  I was older when I became pregnant, my first child at the age of 32.  Fairly well established at my job, and not necessarily sure when I wanted to have a child.  Therefore, my husband and I were somewhat surprised to have a baby coming, but very happy about it.

I have a family history of diabetes, with my mother and grandmothers having Type 2 diabetes.  So, when I got tested at 24 weeks for gestational diabetes in my first pregnancy, I was aware that there was a strong chance I would have gestational diabetes.

Even though I knew it, at first I was kind of mad that I had gestational diabetes, because I felt that I was working so hard to manage my eating and weight gain because I was already a little overweight.  I even thought to myself that I was somewhat mad at my genes that made it more likely.  I was sure that if I just ate right, gestational diabetes would not happen to me, that I could somehow prevent it.

Gestational Diabetes Made Me Feel Like I Had No Control Sometimes

Then I felt guilty for being mad, and for maybe not ALWAYS eating perfectly.  This is something that I think a lot of us feel about everything we do during pregnancy that could affect the baby – as if I should always be perfect and somehow “one” incident of bad behavior is going to be punished.  After all, I have a huge responsibility to take care of the life inside me, and I am somehow failing miserably by having gestational diabetes.  It doesn’t matter that I knew better than to think it was punishment or something I could change.

I was hungry all the time with my first child, and although I was fortunate to not have morning sickness, I did get a stomach ache if I didn’t eat every 3 hours.  I felt like I would throw up, and all I had to do was have a small snack and it would go away.  So, I never skipped meals or snacks!  I sometimes felt like I was in denial because I just didn’t feel like anything changed.  I had to test my blood sugar 4 or 5 times a day and write it down to track, and I was doing really well with my numbers so I usually felt ok even though I had gestational diabetes.  I was scared for a while that I might do something that would harm the baby or cause him to have a problem.  I thought about everything I had done since the pregnancy started, and tried to figure out what I could have done differently.

But I finally accepted it, and moved on to management.  I was lucky enough to take medication and not have to do insulin shots, although sometimes I wish I had because the medication caused me to have kidney problems.  I did walk more and thought about how much I was eating all the time.  My husband was as worried as I was about the control of my gestational diabetes and how it would affect the baby.  Sometimes we forget that we are not the only ones with concerns about our health and the health of our baby.

I managed to gain only a little weight and did deliver a little early due to the kidney problems, but the baby was fine.  He had jaundice and had to stay in the NICU for a couple of weeks but left with no complications from the gestational diabetes.

My 2nd pregnancy was more complicated and the symptoms came on much sooner.  I got tested a lot earlier and started on the gestational diabetes management process much earlier in the pregnancy.  I did feel a lot of guilt about having gestational diabetes again with this child, but I think I accepted it much more quickly than before.  I did not have the hunger that I did with the first child, and actually lost weight but the baby continued to grow at a healthy rate and develop normally.  I managed my blood sugars more carefully, but did end up delivering much earlier and my premature baby was hospitalized for 9 ½ weeks in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit).  My problems that I had with the first pregnancy came back in a fierce way with the 2nd pregnancy from the gestational diabetes.

Learning More About How To Manage Gestational Diabetes

Even though I am a dietitian, I had never actually been through the process of taking a blood sugar.  I had no idea where to start.  I had to go and see a diabetes nurse just to learn the process of checking my blood sugar and what to do.  My fingers were poked so much that they hurt, and sometimes it was hard to get blood from my fingers at the end of the pregnancy because I had a lot of swelling.

The thing I did have control over was the food, and how much I ate, and how it affected my blood sugar level which in turn affected the baby.  That is what I always remembered when I would be having a hard time, and trying to figure out what to eat and what to buy at the grocery store to meet my gestational diabetes diet.  The mom or wife or other jobs that I had never stopped, they continued to have the same expectations of me.  I still was the one to go to the grocery store, I still had a job, I still had to manage multiple things (including going to get my MBA at night) to fulfill my obligations.  So planning ahead became a huge part of every week so I would not have to run to the grocery store in the middle of the week or eat what I should not eat at work for my gestational diabetes!

And now, I have young children who are healthy and well despite being born a little (or a lot) early.  While the complications can still happen regardless of the care you take, I know it’s important to manage the eating and blood sugars to have the best possible outcomes.  We can’t control everything, but we can manage things better in a pregnancy complicated with gestational diabetes.

I developed a program for moms in a situation like myself, who need guidance and help getting control of our gestational diabetes.  Understanding that not all of the things that I knew as a dietitian will be something that other women know.  I made a daily pattern, daily options for breakfast and lunch (because we usually eat very similar things for breakfast and lunch so you don’t need a complicated schedule or recipes for that).  And it has recipes for dinner meals that you can feed to the entire family without a problem – no one has to know they are managed for your gestational diabetes.  Click and go to our information page to learn more about our gestational diabetes meal plans and patterns.