Embracing Everything Emma

Enjoying Life One Baby Step at a Time…

The Blessing of Gestational Diabetes October 26, 2012

When I first got diagnosed with gestational diabetes during my second pregnancy, I was more than disappointed. I felt as if pregnancy should be the one time in life I’d have the opportunity to indulge in a little sweets and not have to worry about weight gain because I was supposed to be gaining weight anyway, right?

And I suffered with a bit of guilt. Had I done something wrong to cause this? Was I not eating healthy enough? What if this condition would cause harm to my baby? What if it already had?

Like a mad woman, I googled every possible gestational diabetes scenario–from monster-sized babies that rip their mothers apart during the birthing process to serious illnesses that could threaten the baby’s life-long health.

But I finally had to come to a point where I trusted God and stood firm in my belief that He is sovereign. My midwife assured me that there was no way I could have prevented this because the condition is the result of hormonal changes during the pregnancy.

I resolved to follow a strict gestational diabetes diet (albeit with real, whole foods instead of the artificial sugar-free substitutes the hospital nutritionist advised me to use!) and exercise as often as possible.

The result was a happy, healthy pregnancy. My baby came on her due date, and I had my first natural birth. I could tell my body was prepped and ready for the marathon of labor.

And at 40 weeks gestation, she weighed a very normal, healthy 7 lbs., 13 oz. She had one slightly low blood sugar right after birth, but it quickly came up with a cup of donor breast milk from the hospital.

I can honestly say I am thankful that I had gestational diabetes, and I consider it a blessing!

If you’re facing a gestational diabetes diagnosis, here are my tips for keeping a positive attitude about it:

1. Don’t blame yourself!

You did not cause this diabetes. Diabetes risk factors include: family history, being overweight before pregnancy, over age 30 and a past case of gestational diabetes (source). The only risk factor I had was a strong family history of diabetes.

Even if you are overweight (the only risk factor you can somewhat control), do not beat yourself up and think you caused this! Thousands of overweight, unhealthy women birth babies every day–without gestational diabetes.

If you are trying to conceive, go ahead and try to be at an ideal weight now, but remember that God is sovereign! Succumbing to guilt will only stress you out, and it’s not good for pregnant mommies to be stressed either!

During my third pregnancy, I had 3 out of 4 risk factors working against me! I had the family history, I was over 30 and had a past case of gestational diabetes. BUT I didn’t get it this time around–and was honestly shocked!

2. Embrace the diet.

Now, I’m not saying embrace the fake, chemical-laden sugar-free substitutes out there. I’m saying embrace whole foods. In a nutshell, a diabetes diet should comprise a good mix of whole grains/carbs with protein and fat. I had to make sure I was eating a certain amount of carbs, protein and fat at EVERY single meal, and I had to eat at least 2 snacks per day. I’ve never kept up with my eating better at any other time in my life!

3. Just say NO to sugar!

Like I said above, well-meaning friends and, eh, even doctors and nurses will tell you you can eat just about anything as long as it’s sugar free. Just say no!

It’s only a few months, and you can do without sweets during those months! Remember: Those muffins, cookies, cupcakes, ice cream and every dessert imaginable will be waiting on you right after delivery! I literally did not eat any sweets during that time…and my body felt so great because of it!

4. Check your blood sugar regularly.

This will help both you and your care providers know you are on track. I never had to take insulin because my diabetes was so well maintained with the diet. But the only way I knew this was by checking my levels several times per day.

5. Exercise–

–especially if you give in and “cheat” by eating something you’re not supposed to (like pizza–it’s a big no-no!). The exercise helps maintain and bring your blood sugar levels down. I was so thankful that our neighborhood pool was open for 5 out of my 9 months, and I swam almost daily. I also did a prenatal salsa/yoga dvd. I felt great!

6. Know that taking care of yourself will help control the weight gain.

I gained in the 30-pound range during the pregnancy (which I know is still a lot for some women!), whereas I had gained 40 during my first pregnancy. I delivered my third-born 8 weeks ago, and even though I did not have diabetes this time around, I gained 50 pounds!

7. Remember: You are keeping you and your baby healthy.

Have you ever looked at a pregnancy “ailment”–like gestational diabetes–as a blessing?

Top Image by o5com

Erin Odom is a stay-at-home wife and mother to three little redheaded girls–born in 2008, 2010 and 2012. She loves practicing the semi-crunchy lifestyle from her small-space homestead in North Carolina. She’s a lover of Jesus, natural birthing, cloth diapers and {mostly} real food–albeit with an occasional trip to Chick-fil-A. Erin writes for her local newspaper, edits eBooks and blogs at The Humbled Homemaker–putting a biblical spin on natural living for far-from-perfect homemakers.


4 Responses to “The Blessing of Gestational Diabetes”

  1. 🙂 You’re such a good pregnant woman.

  2. […] I had gestational diabetes during my 2nd pregnancy, I had used cinnamon to faux sweeten my oatmeal and other […]

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