Monday, 22 July 2013

Gestational Diabetes...Becoming a Sugar Mummy

This beautiful red fruit smoothie is one of the items I had to cut out of my diet when I found out I had gestational diabetes. I used to have one of these every Saturday morning....




I found out I had gestational diabetes when I was 26 weeks pregnant. I had the test due to my dad having type 2 diabetes. The test involved not eating after 11pm then the following day going to hospital and having my blood sugar reading taken. Then I was given a sugary sweet syrup to drink, was told to sit in the waiting room for 2 hours then they took my blood sugar reading again. I toddled off back to work and didn't think anything of it. Then that afternoon the nurse phoned to say I had gestational diabetes and made me an appointment to go to the clinic and meet the diabetes consultancy team. From then on I was under diabetic consultant care for my pregnancy. Yikes.

Not knowing much, if anything, about diabetes I did the obvious and googled away trying to find out more. I needn't have bothered as the diabetes midwife and team were so helpful and supportive they gave me a crash course on everything I needed to know. On my first visit I saw the diabetes midwife, the nutritionist, the diabetes consultant and the diabetes obstetrician. Straight away I was given a little kit to test my blood sugar levels 4 times a day. The upshot is that if you have too much glucose in your blood when pregnant, it will pass the placenta to your baby and could make him/her rather chubby around the tummy and possibly shoulders which can have implications on birth. So the aim from then on was to try and reduce my blood sugar levels through diet and exercise. If diet did not work, metformin tablets were the next option, and if they didn't work then insulin injections were the next option. All a lot to take in.

Monitoring blood sugar levels 4 times a day
The aim of this blog post is to highlight to any other pregnant ladies out there some of the things I cut out of my diet and what I kept in. Hopefully this will be helpful for someone :-)

Ultimately I managed to keep my blood sugar readings under control for the first three weeks. Then some of them started to go a bit erratic. So I was prescribed Metformin tablets twice a day. I'm pleased that this helped and I'm now 35+4 weeks pregnant and have not needed to start any insulin injections.



Monitoring blood sugar levels 7 times a day



Here's some of the things I changed in my diet:

Breakfast: 
Swapped Special K with red berries for Weetabix or Porridge

Mid morning snack: 
Swapped smoothies and boxes of chopped mango and pineapple for crackerbread and mini cheddars (dull!)

Lunch
Swapped brown bread for granary bread but kept on eating my usual sandwich fillings. Instead of an Activia yoghurt I had Weight Watchers forest fruit fromage frais. Quinoa, couscous or orzo based salads worked really well for me.

Dinner
In general evening meals stayed the same. I was advised that carbohydrates should make up 50% of my meals. There were a few times I had pasta based dishes - not a good idea - this sent my blood sugar quite high. Pizza was another one I had to give up after a couple of high sugar readings.  Gutted!

Snacks
I found I was REALLY missing chocolate. So I bought weight watchers Belgian chocolate digestives. And old skool choc ices - the milk chocolate variety from Tesco.

Once you start looking at the ingredients on food packaging its amazing how much sugar is in everything. I have not felt poorly with gestational diabetes at any point. It has been quite high maintenance to manage especially when in work and you're in a meeting thinking I need to do a blood sugar reading. Sometimes I didn't bother or I forgot but whenever I could manage it I would take a reading.

Good news is that I've been for three additional scans at hospital to monitor the growth of my baby and everything is fine so far. The doctors check for the size of the baby's tummy and the amount of fluid in the amniotic sac and I'm glad that my baby is within normal size range.

So pregnancy hasn't turned out to be the chocolate fest I thought it would be. Instead it has made me healthy and cut back on lots of sugar which is not a bad thing! Gestational diabetes apparently disappears after birth in 95% of women...so hopefully I can retire my blood sugar monitoring kit to the back of the cupboard. And hopefully I can continue to kick the chocolate habit :-)

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