Patient Perspective – Gestational Diabetes

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As you may or may not know, November is Diabetes Awareness Month. As a part of our ongoing commitment to our patients well-being, we decided to take a slightly different route to informing you all this time.

There are countless websites that can give you all of the facts and figures that you might want or need to know about having gestational diabetes. They can explain to you what it is, what it’s prevalence is, possible symptoms and methods of treatment etc. What they can’t do, however, is help you understand what life is like as a woman with gestational diabetes. For that, we thought we would turn to one of our patients and ask if she could chronicle her experiences for you into a short journal entry. Here you have what she has given us:

“This was my second pregnancy. My first had been a pretty rough one, leaving me with ‘morning sickness’ throughout almost the entire pregnancy that resulted in more than one trip to the hospital. In the end, though, I came out with a 7lb 13 oz baby and swore never to do it again. Clearly 5 years later I had forgotten about that oath because I was sitting at the doctors being told I was 12 weeks pregnant. I didn’t feel sick this time, though I kept expecting the morning sickness to show up. Maybe that’s why I had such poor eating habits.

The morning sickness had been so bad last time that I was often dehydrated and incapable of holding down food. I would have to nibble high calorie snacks just to keep going. Even though I wasn’t sick, I thought nothing of having 3 or 4 milkshakes through the day. I’m sure you’re going to simply die of surprise when I tell you I started packing on weight like I was fattening up for hibernation. I didn’t notice how excessive it was. I also didn’t notice the signs my body was giving me like frequent heachaches, constantly being thirsty and very frequent urination. They were so similar to things I had experienced in pregnancy before that I paid them no attention.

At 27 weeks I was sent for my glucose-screening. I drank my disgusting orange drink and held it down for as close to an hour as I could (I’ve always been highly grossed out by that stuff, but I held it down for over 45 minutes, which the nurse assured me would be close enough to finish the test) and sat for my blood draw. I thought that would be that. I was wrong. A week later I was sent back to repeat the test, suffered through another battle with the glucose solution, and was told at 30 weeks that I had gestational diabetes.

What that meant for me was that if I wanted to avoid medications, I would need to change my diet pretty drastically. I was expecting to be told that I needed to cut out the sweets, but I was also told to get rid of as many refined carbs and ‘hidden sugars’ as possible. For me that was a total overhaul of what I ate. No more milkshakes, no more fruit binges, etc. Making those changes sent my body into a bit of shock and at first the headaches were worse, I was irritable, I was sick to my stomach.

That took about a week to level out and after that I really did feel much better. My energy levels were higher, the headaches tapered off, my weight gain slowed down. I will admit that I did ‘cheat’ a few times and have a milkshake here and there, but I was able to manage my gestational diabetes well enough to avoid medication. My second child was born via c-section 3 weeks earlier than her due date. She was taken out because she was starting to get too big for me to safely carry. Her birth weight was 8lbs 9 oz and her length was 24 inches. Considering I’m under 5 ft tall, that’s a pretty big baby.

Gestational diabetes, in my case, sounded a lot scarier than it really was. With a few modifications and some close monitoring, it didn’t even mean medication! Just make sure you are open and honest with your doctor and follow their instructions closely.”

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