How my sister got through gestational diabetes
In February 2021, my sister became pregnant with her first child. My family were over the moon with joy and looking forward to welcoming the baby.
For every woman, pregnancy is like a rollercoaster. Drastic changes happen to your body. It’s a blessing, of course, but some women face complications and serious health issues on their journey.
When my sister got pregnant, she had no previous history of diabetes. And the first 4 months went smoothly.
What we didn’t know was a family history of diabetes can put you at risk of gestational diabetes – And our father had diabetes.
When my sister entered her 2nd trimester, her doctor advised her to take a blood sugar random (BSR) test. During this test, your blood glucose levels are checked at random over a day. Normal results would be:
- Before a meal – <95 mg/dl
- 1 hour after a meal – <140 mg/dl
- 2 hours after a meal – <120 mg/dl.
When my sister got her results, they were higher than the normal range.
Her doctor diagnosed her with gestational diabetes.
What did this mean?
Women can get gestational diabetes during pregnancy, even if they don’t have a history of diabetes. You become diabetic for the period of the pregnancy, but after giving birth, it usually disappears on its own.
However, it can bring along complications for your pregnancy:
- Your baby may grow larger than normal, which increases the chance you may have to have labor induced or a caesarean section.
- You may develop a condition called polyhydramnios – This is when your amniotic fluid increases drastically, which can cause premature labor.
- You may develop pre-eclampsia – This condition causes high blood pressure and can lead to further complications in your pregnancy.
- Your baby may develop low blood sugar or jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) after they’re born, which may require treatment in the hospital.
Having gestational diabetes can also mean you have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.
Learning this from her doctor, my sister knew it was important to manage her gestational diabetes. She needed to make a few adjustments to avoid further serious health concerns and protect herself and her baby.
What did my sister do to manage her gestational diabetes?
Like other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes can be managed through changes in diet and lifestyle.
However, you need to take care that the changes you make don’t harm the baby growing in your womb – You can’t start crash diets or exercise heavily; you have to be very careful and follow a balanced approach.
My sister addressed it in 3 ways:
- Making healthy food choices
- Getting regular check-ups and medication
Making healthy food choices
Rather than eating 3 full meals a day, my sister had 3 “micro” meals and 3 snacks spread throughout the day.
This allowed her to maintain good portion control and eat healthy food.
My sister included lots of fresh fruit, vegetables and dry fruits (like almonds, figs and cashew nuts).
She also consulted a dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist, who helped her create a meal plan (based on her current weight, pregnancy weight gain goals, blood sugar level, exercise habits, food preferences, and budget).
By staying active and exercising regularly, my sister was able to break down the glucose in her body without taking extra insulin. This helped her combat insulin resistance.
My sister started with 30-minute sessions of medium-paced walking, twice a day.
Importantly she checked with her doctor before starting her exercise program. They were able to guide her through pregnancy-safe exercises. She also consulted with a certified gym trainer.
Getting regular check-ups and medication
As well as following a healthy diet and exercising regularly, my sister also made sure to consult with her doctor and get regular check-ups (including repeated ultrasounds and tests). This allowed the doctor to closely monitor her health, as well as her baby’s growth and development.
Her doctor also prescribed her oral medications to help manage her blood glucose levels.
Gestational diabetes may feel like a big hiccup, but it doesn’t always have to be.
My sister managed it very bravely. She didn’t stress herself out (she knew this could affect her diabetes and her baby), and she faced it head-on.
For every woman out there suffering from gestational diabetes she had this to say:
“Don’t worry. Everything will be fine the moment you hold your sweet angel in your arms. All the hard work will feel paid off when you hear their little coos. That moment will be the best of your life, and you’ll forget you ever had to suffer from gestational diabetes.”