You’ve just left your doctor’s office, and you have received what sounds like terrible news: you have gestational diabetes. It’s likely that you had previously thought of diabetes as something that only fat and unhealthy people get — not anything that you would ever have to worry about. Unfortunately, the next few months may be difficult as you approach full term. The good news is that this is just a short-term condition, and you can easily manage the level of difficulty you have from it.
First of all, don’t panic. Take a deep breath (or 20). Plenty of pregnant mothers get gestational diabetes — and through no fault of their own. Every person’s body is different, and the way that the different hormones go coursing through our bodies has a definite effect on the way that we process food. This just means that your body needs a bit of insulin to carry your baby to term. There’s nothing to blame yourself for, and there’s definitely nothing to panic about.
Talk to your doctor, and ask for a referral for a nutritionist to meet your specific needs. However, there are some tips that work for a lot of people in your situation. First, stay away from fruits and high glycemic vegetables in the morning — they will send your blood sugar up out of control. Some people try a protein shake with ingredients like milk, peanut butter (or scrambled eggs), whey protein powder and coconut oil. Something along these lines will get your day off to a healthier start. Stick with higher levels of protein during the day, when you do have a carb, make sure it comes from a whole food rather than a processed food. That will help your blood sugar stay more stable.
You can maintain healthy sugar levels by changing your diet levels. However, you will find that it is much easier if you add in some exercise, even if it is just the most basic level. Taking a brisk walk after dinner will help stabilize your levels for the night, for example. The trick is to stick to protein and stay away from as much sugar as possible.
The more you cheat, the more problems you are likely to have. Will one donut send you into diabetic shock, though? Probably not. A donut a day is definitely out, though. The habits that you build now, though, have two effects: first, they will be the habits that you keep after your baby is born, second, the foods that you eat are the foods that your baby will crave when he is born. Do you want him wanting donuts over oatmeal? Ho-hos over carrots? Really? Give this some careful thought.
Along with your sugar levels, your emotions are also part of the roller coaster that your hormones take you on during pregnancy. The good news is that you are not the first person who has gone through this, so reach out to friends and family. Join a gestational diabetes support group (there are quite a few online) if you are really struggling with this issue.
Gestational diabetes is not a diagnosis that should make you panic. Watch what you eat — but you can still embrace your future as a new mother.