I had my first appointment at the diabetes clinic for my recent gestational diabetes (GD) diagnosis. Not surprisingly, learning more about this diagnosis has been somewhat of a relief. Information is always better than lack thereof.
Please note, this is my own interpretation of what I heard today. I am in no way a medical professional and apologize in advance if I do not describe things accurately!
First, I learned that GD is different from normal diabetes in terms of it being directly related to hormones. The nurse explained that people don't understand why some are affected by diabetes and some are not. The same explanation can be given as to why only some expectant mothers suffer from morning sickness (another issue connected to the surge of hormones). Basically, I must have more hormone issues than most - not to my dear husband's surprise!
I also asked questions about why I was told that I would only be diagnosed if I failed two of the four blood tests during my three-hour glucose (I only failed one). The nurse explained that I have the most conservative doctor's office in town and my numbers would not have resulted in a gestational diabetes diagnosis elsewhere. She explained that is not necessarily bad news. These doctors are just careful and want what is best for this pregnancy adding, "That is likely why you chose them." She's right!
She asked me what I had heard in terms of how GD could affect my baby. I told her I had heard that it can lead to bigger babies. She said that is true, but there are other impacts. She said a baby whose mother hasn't been controlling their blood sugar is used to receiving a high-level of glucose. When the baby is born and the cord is cut, the baby's blood sugar can sharply drop and this can be very dangerous. She explained that while controlling gestational diabetes is important for me, it is most critical for the health of my daughter. She said sometimes that helps when patients are enticed by that piece of cake, to think about how it could potentially harm their little one. (Did I mention my hormones? I had to work to not tear up when she said this!).
She showed me the testing kit and I warned her how I'm not so good with needles and discussions of blood. I am so happy to tell you, the blood testing is a cinch! I test once when I wake up (fasting blood sugar), once after breakfast, once after lunch and again after dinner. I don't have to "poke" the needle in myself, it goes in super fast and I can hardly feel it! I actually poke it in fatty part of my palm (it hurts less there!). I did, however, make the mistake of showing someone in the office later and accidentally had the guard off and poked myself pretty good (yes, that did hurt).
We then discussed nutrition. I learned that diabetes is not about controlling sugar, but about controlling carbs. I CAN have a piece of cake at a baby shower if I want, but it does mean I'd likely not be able to have any other carbs (probably not going to happen). It is a lot like my days of following the Atkins Diet, but actually a little easier. I told the nurse I have a lot of off-site meetings right now and often we don't get much time for lunch so we run to fast food. We discussed several fast food restaurants and my options. I was shocked to find out I could have a quarter pounder with cheese for lunch (just no fries)! Guess where I went after my appointment? She was right, my blood sugar came out just fine. Crazy! I did learn some disappointing things. For instance, I thought with agave nectar being low-glycemic, I was OK eating that. Not true! I can have it, but it has the same carbs as regular sugar. DARN!
In summary, I wanted to share something more positive about this diagnosis. It still isn't the best news, but it is definitely manageable and actually very interesting information. I can definitely do this - for me and Baby D! Plus, if my blood sugar remains stable, they will likely add in more carbs and cut back on my blood testing. Something to hope for!