Monday, January 14, 2008

Gestational Diabetes

If you have a family history of diabetes get tested for it before you get pregnant. Don't wait until late in the pregnancy when many doctors do the gestational diabetes test to find out. Controlling your blood sugar is an important part of having a healthy pregnancy.

Many years ago I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I went to the bookstore and bought every book I could on gestational diabetes. The books were so frustratingly light on information. There is not one I would recommend. I do recommend asking for a visit to a nutritionist. If your insurance doesn't pay for this, you can find a nutritionist on your own. This is not very expensive, $60 or so.

Luckily, my doctor sent me to the Joslin Diabetes Center for nutritional counseling very early in my pregnancy. My diet was already good but the purpose was to learn how to count carbohydrates to keep my blood sugars steady. The other women in the group were at eight months before they'd been diagnosed.

We were asked what we regularly ate. The diets of this little group were so poor! The worst was of a woman who claimed she'd been living on nothing but ground beef, white rice and ice cream. The nurse stared at her in shock. Finally she said "You didn't know you had diabetes but you did know you were pregnant and that's not a healthy pregnancy diet for anyone."

I was eating a whole foods diet. Most of the recipes I used came from, Feeding the Whole Family. A typical dinner for me was a spinach salad with lemon-olive oil vinaigrette, a piece of wild salmon, some broccoli and half a small baked sweet potato. This diet worked well for me at the time.

During a later pregnancy, I was not able to tolerate carbohydrates (even the healthy kind) without insulin. I ate a whole foods diet again, and supplemented with injected insulin.

I hope you will make wise choices after discussing with your doctor about the use of insulin. Please do not let a fear of needles prevent you from using this treatment if you think it would be beneficial.

Ask your doctor if you are a high-risk pregnancy. If you are a high-risk pregnancy- because of your age, weight, health-history, having a pregnancy with multiples or any other factors, you need to know. Your doctor may refer you to someone who specializes in high-risk pregnancies. Managing your blood sugars is not something you can play at, the health of your child or children depends on you.

All three of my kids were born healthy, at term and at a perfect birth weight. My heart goes out to anyone who has a difficult pregnancy or difficult birthing. I realize that some women experience so much guilt, often for things that are truly out of their control with regards to pregnancy and birthing.