Managing gestational diabetes through 2 pregnancies

minute read
April 1, 2024
An expectant mother with gestational diabetes, hugging her partner and her 1st born child.
Note: Image for illustration only. It does not show the author of this story. Photo credit - Laercio Cavalcanti

Pregnancy is one of the most challenging yet beautiful parts of one’s life. But if there are complications, it becomes even harder. One possible complication is gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) – When an otherwise healthy adult becomes unable to regulate their blood sugar level during pregnancy.

I’m a mother of 2 beautiful little girls, a 2-year-old and an 8-month-old. And I was a victim of GDM during both pregnancies. But, I took notes from the 1st and was able to better manage it during the 2nd.

First time pregnant, first time GDM

In 2021, I conceived for the 1st time. In the beginning, everything was going great – The growth of the baby was as expected, and all my blood work was in the normal range (including my oral glucose tolerance test, which is used to diagnose GDM during pregnancy).

But in my 6th month, I started having bad attacks of dizziness and headaches. My blood pressure was in the normal range, and there were no other associated issues, so the doctors weren’t sure of the cause and just kept prescribing me paracetamol.

However, I noticed a pattern – My headaches increased after meals.

So, I started randomly checking my blood sugar levels and discovered they were high every time. That’s when my worst nightmare came true, and I was diagnosed with GDM.

Because my father was a diabetic, I knew I was at risk of developing GDM. But once I was diagnosed, that’s when my hardships began. My blood sugar levels were so high I had to inject myself twice a day with insulin (despite taking tablets to control my diabetes 3 times a day).

The late diagnosis and poor control caused placental insufficiency – My baby wasn’t getting enough blood, and her growth started to be affected. To keep track of this I had to take multiple tests every day. And on top of the physical exertion, the mental pressure and stress took a toll on my health.

Then, at 36 weeks, my baby stopped moving, becoming at risk of intrauterine foetal demise. To avoid this, I had to go through an emergency C-Section, and thankfully delivered a 2.5kg baby girl.

My baby’s struggle with GDM

Unfortunately, my baby’s challenges weren’t over yet, and she struggled because of my GDM. She got admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where she had to endure multiple blood sugar level tests as well as various other investigations and radiological examinations, to make sure she didn’t have any complications from my uncontrolled GDM.

Again, thankfully, she was healthy and thriving – The doctors discharged her after 3 days.

My second, but healthier, pregnancy with GDM

In 2022, I got pregnant again. But because I had GDM in my 1st pregnancy, I knew I could have it in this 2nd pregnancy as well. So I started modifying my diet from the very start.

This time, in my 33rd week, I again got diagnosed with GDM. However, my blood sugar levels were not as high as they had been the previous pregnancy, and my doctor confirmed that my early precautions had given me better control – So this time around I was able to achieve optimum blood sugar levels with just 1 tablet a day.

All went well, and I delivered a healthy 3.5kg baby girl at 38 weeks without any complications. And this time, I was able to hold my newborn in my arms the same day, unlike her older sister who had to stay in the NICU for 3 days.

GDM is highly manageable

Based on my experience, having had GDM twice and being able to manage it successfully, I can say with confidence that GDM is highly manageable if you:

  1. identify your risk factors early – If you have a family history of diabetes, are overweight or obese, or have had polycystic ovary syndrome, be prepared for the chance you may develop GDM.
  2. keep track of your blood sugar levels – Even if your blood sugar levels have been normal in the past, taking proactive measures is a major step in successful management (early diagnosis is half the treatment!)
  3. adjust your diet – With proper dietary modifications, you can change the challenge of GDM into a triumph, just as I did in my 2nd pregnancy.
  4. strictly follow your prescriptions and medications – By following the advice of your doctor, and religiously taking medications to control your blood sugar levels, you can have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
Profile photo of Anaa Khalid, a mother who went through gestational diabetes in both her pregnancies.
Anaa Khalid

Anaa Khalid is the mother of 2 little girls. She faced the challenge of gestational diabetes in both pregnancies, but drew from the experiences of her first to enhance the outcome of the second. She believes that as long as gestational diabetes can be managed early, it can still have a healthy outcome for mother and child.

Editor's note: The opinions and experiences reflected in stories from the diabetic community belong to the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of InDiabetes.

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