There were five main ways my life changed with GDM. Some changes were temporary, while others became more permanent.
Read part one of this story here.
Each undertaking seemed difficult at the time, but I soon came to understand that change is not meant to be easy. And if it can take you to a better place, then surely there will be some sacrifices along the way. The important thing is to take it one little step at a time.
Make a healthy eating plan
When you have GDM, you must keep your blood sugar levels within the target range. The best way to do this is:
- eat little and often
- choose low GI foods
- Include small amounts of carbohydrate throughout the day
There were smaller portions all round and sugary foods were out, out, out. My favourite meals included chickpea burger and salad; pan-fried salmon, stir-fry vegetables and soba noodles; barbequed steak, kale and corn-on-the-cob; and last but not least, buckwheat pancakes with bananas and cream.
The first week was hard, as I adjusted to less food, but soon the hunger pangs disappeared and I felt lighter and less tired.
Take regular physical activity
It’s important when you have GDM to take regular light exercise, especially after meals.
An after-dinner walk with the dogs in our local bush-land became a daily thing for us. I also enjoyed a weekly antenatal yoga class. These were great ways to stay fit, but also to switch off from day-to-day worries. In the quiet of the bush and in the stillness of meditation, I felt more connected to our baby. Plus, I was keeping the hospital happy.
Test your blood sugars regularly
Pricking my fingers 4-times a day was not enjoyable in the slightest, but it’s a means to an end and I got used to it. It’s important to keep track of all your readings on a sheet, no matter how bad they are. I ate pizza once and misjudged my portion size by miles. My blood sugars went ballistic. I was so worried, I considered fudging my results. But don’t do it. If you have a bad reading (or two), the dieticians work with you to fix it; they’re not out to make you feel bad. Most of the time my readings were good, and I was able to control my diabetes with diet alone. Some women need insulin injections. Either way, it’s all for the health of you and your baby.
A GDM diagnosis can be scary. Counted as a high-risk pregnancy, you may feel vulnerable, abnormal, or worried for your baby. The main risks include excessive birth weight. But your obstetrician will keep a close eye on your circumference, arranging additional scans if required. You’re not usually permitted to go past your due date, so you’ll be induced at 40 weeks. As a result, there’s a greater chance you will deliver by C-section.
Do your best to stay positive. If your blood sugar levels are controlled, you are otherwise healthy, and your baby is growing at a normal rate, then why not discuss with your doctor the necessity of induction. Weigh up the risks of GDM against the benefits of a natural birth. Take control. It’s your decision.
Don’t look back
To be diagnosed with gestational diabetes can be distressing at first, but with a positive outlook, it can be a good thing. I lost weight throughout my pregnancy, I felt healthier and happier, and despite an emergency C-section, my daughter was perfect in every way. The diabetes disappeared after childbirth, and this is the case for almost every woman.
Today, I have a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, but the way I see it, I might have had an even greater risk before I learnt how important it is to eat healthy, exercise regularly and look after myself. As for those banana splits? I haven’t craved one since.