My fight with obesity and gestational diabetes

minute read
February 19, 2024
A pregnant Indian woman, with gestational diabetes, holding her stomach.
Note: Image for illustration only. It does not show the author of this story. Photo credit - Vinayak Chavan

Every woman dreams about becoming a mother, and I share that dream. When I conceived, happiness overflowed inside me. However, it was joined by stress because, at the same time, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Having tried to conceive for 8 years, and losing a pregnancy 3 years before, my family and I were very worried.

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that can occur during pregnancy. It happens when the body can't produce enough insulin to meet the body’s needs, causing high blood glucose levels.

It’s typically diagnosed between 24-28 weeks of pregnancy and can impact both the mother and the child.

Here’s a quick overview:

  • Causes – During pregnancy, the placenta produces a hormone that can impact how effectively the body can use insulin.
  • Risk factors – Women who are overweight, over 25, have a family history, or have previously delivered children over 4.1kg (9 pounds) are at a higher risk of gestational diabetes.
  • Effects on the mother – Gestational diabetes can cause hypertension and pre-eclampsia, and put the mother at higher risk of developing diabetes after her pregnancy. It also increases the chances of needing a caesarean for delivery.
  • Impact on the child – High blood glucose levels in the mother can cause the child to overproduce insulin, causing them to grow more than normal (this is known as macrosomia). In my case, my child was 5kgs.

After pregnancy, the mother’s blood glucose levels generally return to normal and their diabetes disappears. However, that’s not always the case, and it’s worth having check-ups as gestational diabetes puts you at greater risk of type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes can add complications to a pregnancy, but most women who are diagnosed with it can have a successful pregnancy and delivery.

My own experience with gestational diabetes

Despite all the worries of my gestational diabetes, a marvel and beacon of light entered the world – I successfully delivered a baby boy who cleared away all the darkest corners of my concerns.

However, my experience with gestational diabetes didn’t end there. Yearning for another kid, I started trying to conceive again. This time around, while my pregnancy was loaded with nervousness, I was able to draw strength from my past difficulties.

Every day I managed my high sugar levels through insulin injections, maintaining a sensitive harmony between the excitement of looming parenthood and the constant watchfulness over my own well-being. And I had regular check-ups with experts, adding advice and guidance.

At last, my wonderful baby girl showed up, and my family felt complete – A mother, father, boy and young girl.

Passing through the end of my pregnancy, I was freed from gestational diabetes. And thankfully, my children were both healthy as well.

Obesity – The reason I struggled to conceive and got gestational diabetes

The reason I was unable to conceive was obesity.

At 87kg, I had various health problems, including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – PCOS impacts your ability to conceive and also increases your risk of gestational diabetes.

However, by losing 12kg I was able to change my life’s course (as well as my appearance). As the numbers on the scale dropped, my expectations took off. My way of life improved, as well as my well-being. I felt more vigorous, confident, and on top of my health.

Finally, at 75kg, the change I'd been yearning for happened — I conceived.

Dropping from 87 to 75kg wasn’t just a change in me. It was my entry point to fulfilling my biggest dream – To become a parent.

My journey to parenthood was loaded with adversity. My obesity caused health problems that impacted my ability to get pregnant, and when I did conceive, led to my gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes in turn cast a shadow over my dreams of life as a parent – Each step was a drawn-out difficulty, an unexpected labour, and a threat to my peaceful life.

But by following my doctors’ advice, carefully managing my blood sugar levels, and staying focused, I made it through.

Profile photo of Leena Methwani, a mother who went through gestational diabetes during both her pregnancies.
Leena Methwani

Leena Methwani is a mother of 2 healthy children. She battled with obesity, polycystic ovary syndrome and gestational diabetes. But she made it through, and now feels her family is complete.

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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