During what was already a rough pregnancy for me, this was an added unwelcome complication.
I survived the last ten weeks of my pregnancy managing my gestational diabetes with a controlled diet.
If you’ve been diagnosed, here are some tips to cope with your diagnosis.
Please keep in mind I am NOT a medical professional and only a mother who was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and made it through my pregnancy. Also, keep in mind that every woman is different, and every pregnancy is different so listen to your doctor and make decisions that are best for you and your pregnancy.
The first thing to accept is that this diagnosis isn’t your fault. No, those five sugar cookies you had at the Halloween party did NOT cause this. The diagnosis comes from hormones in the placenta – which means the good news is it leaves with the placenta immediately after delivery. Accepting the diagnosis was the hardest part for me. After I failed the 1-hour test I ate a low-carb diet days leading up to the 3-hour test, convinced it was a fluke. I REALLY failed that second test and had to tell myself it was not because of anything I did. I had the disease, and it was time to treat it accordingly.
Knowledge is power
You will be instructed to attend a four-hour course at a Diabetes Education Center. I took my husband with me (you can take one guest) and we came armed with a lot of questions – all of which got answered and more. You will feel a lot better after taking this course, so try not to worry too much before you get there. You will learn about what foods you can eat, how to track your blood sugar, and more about diabetes and your diagnosis in general.
I also joined a nationwide support Facebook group and scoured Pinterest boards for low-carb recipe ideas. The Facebook group ended up being more of a curse as I mentioned before EVERY pregnancy and woman is so different. I found women were comparing their experiences to another, which is not smart with this disease. One woman might be able to eat rice with her diagnosis, while another couldn’t have one grain and get a normal reading. I left the group and stuck with talking to my OB and getting recipes from Pinterest.
This was laughable for me to hear as I had some round ligament pain with my pregnancy, but any movement helps lower your blood sugars. One woman told me she got her lowest reading on a day she was wrapping presents. I got a low reading after putting away laundry, which required about six trips up and down the stairs. Try to fit in any movement you can, and get creative. My toddler and I had lots of dance parties in the living room during the winter storms at the end of December.
What to Eat
My biggest questions were about what I could eat. You still get to eat – in fact, you have to! You’ll eat every 2-3 hours in order to keep your sugars regulated, and your new diet is going to be low-carb. I ate a lot of eggs for breakfast, nuts and cheese for snack, and steak for dinner. While I couldn’t have the holiday cookies that arrived at work, I could have as much of the summer sausage as I wanted. Also, butter has no carbs so I loaded up my baked potatoes and toast with it! The things I missed the most were rice, bread, and pastries, and of course so many sweets. If you’re really craving something, there are always ways to modify. I was really craving a cinnamon roll so I found a low-keto recipe that was passable enough to satisfy my craving.
But, as I mentioned earlier, every single woman reacts differently to the different foods. Track what works for you and hang in there for those 10 weeks. I had a list of foods to be delivered to me at the hospital as motivation.
Listen to your doctors
During this time, you will have to write down everything you eat, along with your corresponding blood sugar levels. You will review these sheets with your doctor at each appointment. I was diet-controlled, but some women have to go on insulin. Again, this isn’t exactly because of the things they are eating, but how their body is handling the hormones. Some women could follow a perfectly healthy, diabetes-friendly diet and never get a normal reading. The important part is keeping your baby healthy, so use that as your motivator. Track everything and you will soon learn what you can eat. Toward the end of my pregnancy I was eating bagels (in very small portions) and still getting good readings.
As with anything about being a mom, my biggest help came from other moms. A family member who had gestational diabetes with two pregnancies sent me a Pinterest board of recipes, and an old childhood friend answered my random texts any time of day. Lean on those connections and do what is best for you and your baby.