My experience with gestational diabetes wasn’t all bad, although I certainly wish it hadn’t been so long. Because I was diagnosed at 17 weeks and my pregnancy lasted nearly 42 weeks, I tested my blood sugar and maintained a strict diet for 25 weeks, or more than six months. It was so long that I completely filled the tracking log and had to make my own pages for the last few weeks. Good grief.
During labor, my blood sugar was tested every six hours. I didn’t have regular food intake, so the tests weren’t timed to two hours after eating. In fact, the numbers were usually higher than the 120 two hours after eating limit that I’d stuck to for those six months. Hearing the higher numbers stressed me out, but they were fine because they could be explained by juice or other intake. And I think they were testing more to be sure I didn’t bottom out.
My (induced) labor lasted more than 24 hours, so my blood was tested at least four times. The first time it was tested as I was being checked in, and the nurse pricked my finger on the pad – something you never actually do because it hurts much more than a prick on the side of the finger. It bled profusely and led me to remind the other nurses doing blood glucose tests to please use the side of the finger for the next two draws. I don’t even remember the last test though, since that would have happened during the drama of nearing pushing, or maybe they waited until after my baby was born to do one more test.
After her birth (you can read our birth story here), my daughter’s blood was tested every few hours for the first day or so of her life. Her numbers were great, so there was never any problem for her or concern about needing to supplement with glucose water, which would have been needed if her blood sugar levels were too low.
As for me, after birth I was told I could eat a “normal” diet, and my doctor recommended a non-diabetic meal like a cheeseburger (in my glucose log reporting any time I’d had a spike it was always a cheeseburger with me, and I had mentioned that in my notes when I emailed my logs). I happily obliged, although it took the hospital nearly five hours after the birth to get food to me!
I also ate a Cadbury Crème Egg that I’d had my husband buy for me (if I bought it I’d have eaten it!). My gestational diabetes was diagnosed just before Halloween, so I missed trick-or-treat candy, Thanksgiving food, a cake for my birthday, Christmas treats, Valentine’s Day chocolates and Easter treats. My baby was born the week after Easter Sunday, so the chocolate egg was still good if no longer “in season.” It tasted AMAZING.
My sweet tooth hadn’t disappeared, and resuming normal eating has been challenging because I want to eat ALL THE THINGS, specifically all the carbohydrates and sweet things. Getting breastfeeding established also increased my appetite, and I’m a voracious eater normally. I’m still working to find a balance for my diet, but I know I can. I learned a lot while managing the gestational diabetes, and I know I want to do everything in my power to avoid having type 2 diabetes, for which I’m at a greater risk now. I will have to have another glucose challenge test at some point, but my doctor said we could wait until after I’m finished nursing.
All in all, gestational diabetes was annoying but manageable. I’m certainly glad it’s in my rear view mirror, and I hope it stays there!
Mari Walker lives in Baton Rouge with her husband, Shawn, and daughters Jane (born November 2011) and Livia (born March 2016). A freelance communications professional originally from Oklahoma, Mari also blogs at silvermari.com.