Dealing with Gestational Diabetes
I flunked my two glucose tests during pregnancy! My Oral Glucose Challenge Test (known in the pregnancy world as OGCT) and Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (aka OGTT), generally taken between 26 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, declared that I have gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM).
“You need to be seen by a diabetologist,” said my OB. My heart broke. My mind couldn’t accept that I have GDM, which is glucose intolerance that begins during pregnancy. No one in my family has diabetes. I was not overweight, and I walked more than 30 minutes every day. I even practiced prenatal yoga! But despite all that, I developed such pregnancy complication.
It was certainly torture to hear that I became diabetic. I was perfectly aware that my sweet tooth would no longer work with a pregnant body having trouble absorbing glucose. My mind miserably anticipated unpleasant meals, insulin injections, time-consuming blood sugar monitoring, and GDM’s possible negative effects on my baby. I realized, however, that there was no other way to deal with the situation but to accept it and manage it.
My baby is now 3 months old — healthy and energetic. When I look at her, I smile and say that gestational diabetes is indeed something that one can overcome with the right mindset and discipline. Here are some of the things I did to manage my gestational diabetes which can also be helpful to other women struggling with the same pregnancy obstacle:
Find a good diabetologist
Finding a good diabetologist is not as easy as it seems. In my experience, the schedule of most diabetologists in nearby hospitals and clinics did not match my timetable as a working preggo. It certainly is a hassle, but it is important for you to see a diabetologist to receive proper guidance regarding the possible effects of GDM to you and your baby. Your diabetologist will also help manage your condition, whether through insulin medication or just diet modification. If you are having a hard time looking for a diabetologist on your own, it is advisable to ask your OB to refer you to one.
Stick to a low-sugar diet
You don’t need to starve yourself when you have diabetes. The truth is you just have to religiously observe a low-sugar meal. Your Go, Grow, Glow food combo should be maintained, but you must pick the ones with low sugar.
You may consult a dietitian regarding the dietary recommendations for patients with gestational diabetes. For various low-sugar meal plans, you may also check trustworthy online resources or ask friends who also had GDM.
Here is a low sugar meal plan that helped me manage my gestational diabetes:
- Dinner: ½ rice + meat/pork/chicken or fish + vegetable + 1 small serving of fresh fruit + water
- Lunch: ½ rice + meat/pork/chicken or fish + vegetable + small serving of fresh fruit + water
- Breakfast Option 2: Oatmeal with low-fat milk + small serving of fresh fruit
- Breakfast Option 1: 1 boiled egg + 2 slices of wheat bread with small amount of spread + maternity milk and water
- Snack: Skyflakes or wheat bread
Buy a quality glucose meter
Every pregnant with gestational diabetes needs to have a glucose meter or glucometer to monitor her blood glucose level. Since most cases of diabetes in pregnancy is temporary, buying an expensive glucometer is not necessary. It is even better if you can just borrow the device from friends or relatives. But in case you need to buy one, look for an affordable glucometer with good quality. Drug stores in the metro offer glucose meter sets that include the glucose meter with charger, the pen used for pricking, and blood glucose test strips. Lancets for the pricking pen are typically sold separately.
Monitor your blood sugar level
It takes a lot of courage and practice to master the self-monitoring of glucose level. At first, I found it distressing to prick myself just so I can get a blood sample for testing. Eventually, I got the hang of it. I had to be brave for baby’s well-being. After all, what is a single pin prick compared to the grand child birth experience I was about to face, right?
To evaluate whether I needed insulin medication or just diet modification, my diabetologist required me to take the glucose test at home once every day for 1 week (MWF-before breakfast, TThS – 2 hours after lunch or dinner). After a week of monitoring, I ended up with normal results. Hence, I was spared from insulin medication. My diabetologist required me to continue my low-sugar diet and monitor my glucose levels.
Below is a generic table of normal glucose levels of pregnant women with GDM.
Light to moderate exercise like walking is said to help manage diabetes in general. Be sure to get a go signal from your OB Gyne first before engaging in any form of exercise.
Having gestational diabetes may be heart-breaking for any pregnant, but it’s just another challenge a mom-to-be can surely overcome with discipline, determination, and support from loved ones.
Gwen Llana-Serrano is a Digital Marketing professional and a freelance writer from the Philippines. She is an excited new wife and mother who writes about her new life roles in her Blissful Blooming Blog.