My journey through gestational diabetes
Pregnancy is the most beautiful journey of any woman’s life. And 6 years ago, I was blessed with this gift. When I discovered I was pregnant, I was filled with a sense of excitement. The idea of becoming a mother and starting my own family thrilled me! My husband couldn’t believe it, because it happened for us so much sooner than we’d planned.
So I booked a doctor’s appointment and started regular check-ups. Blood tests and ultrasounds became a normal part of life.
But during my 1st trimester (16th week), after a urine test, my gynaecologist recommended I get a glucose tolerance test. A glucose tolerance test (also known as an oral glucose tolerance test) checks how well your body is regulating blood sugar levels and during pregnancy can detect if you have gestational diabetes.
My gestational diabetes diagnosis
It was a tough morning for me! When I arrived at the diagnostic centre, a nurse took a blood sample from a vein in my arm. This was my first blood sample, and it was a baseline test used to measure the level of sugar in my blood after fasting. The nurse then gave me a sweet drink (glucon-D) containing 75g of glucose. After that, I sat and waited for 2 hours while I digested the sugary drink – I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything while waiting.
After 2 hours, the nurse took the follow-up blood sample. The baseline and follow-up blood samples were then sent for analysis.
The next morning I received the results of the test, and I was shocked – I’d tested positive for gestational diabetes.
Learning how to manage gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes (also known as gestational diabetes mellitus) is a kind of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. It means the expectant mother has too much sugar (glucose) in her blood and her body isn’t managing it properly. This can cause problems for both mother and baby, so she’ll need extra medical care during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes develops when some of the pregnancy hormones (like oestrogen, cortisol and human placental lactogen) start blocking insulin. During pregnancy, especially from mid-pregnancy onwards, the body needs extra insulin (it’s an essential hormone the body produces to help the muscles and tissues use blood sugar for energy and store sugar that isn’t needed). The pancreas is usually able to make additional insulin to overcome this insulin resistance but when it can’t produce enough, gestational diabetes occurs.
After my gestational diabetes diagnosis, I had to take extra care of myself to keep my baby healthy and avoid complications during my pregnancy. My doctor told me to control my sugar intake, but it was difficult for me because I have a sweet tooth!
But because my mother was also a diabetic, I knew I had to be careful. Slowly, I started eating mindfully and stopped eating refined (white) sugar, bakery products, rice and sweets. And I limited myself to certain fruits, like apples, oranges, pears, and guava (my winter favourite).
Another challenge for me was to control my chapati intake. Born and brought up in a typical Indian household, I was used to eating chapati in all 3 meals (i.e. parathas during breakfast and then again at lunch and dinner time). It was difficult for me to avoid it, so instead of totally skipping it I reduced the quantity of chapatis and also opted for multigrain rotis made of jawar, bajra and ragi (sorghum, pearl millet and finger millet).
Exercise is another way to keep blood sugar under control, so I started exercising regularly during my pregnancy. For me, walking proved to be the best way to control it. Deep down in my heart, I knew I had to stay mindful and active to avoid complications for my baby and during delivery. As well as walking, I also joined weekend prenatal yoga classes which helped a lot (not just physically but also emotionally) – Yoga reduced my stress and anxiety and provided me with a sense of calm throughout my entire pregnancy journey.
The end of my gestational diabetes journey
Thanks to making all these changes to my lifestyle, I luckily managed to complete my pregnancy to full-term and deliver a healthy baby girl. And I was also moulded into a completely different person. Now, I’m always mindful of my diet and stay active. That doesn’t mean I’m strict with my food, just that I eat in moderation and only eat as much as my body needs. I believe you should feel satisfied at the end of a meal, not stuffed.
Having a balanced diet and exercising regularly is the only way to have a quality life. And if a person like me (a total foodie) can do it, anybody can!
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