November 14 is celebrated as World Diabetes Day across the world. I realised this pretty late during the day, hence this post is coming a day later. I always wanted to write on this topic but could never gather the courage to revisit the only ‘not-so-happy’ part of my otherwise beautiful pregnancy. Yes, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes very early during my pregnancy. Those who know me would know how much I dread the disorder. I lost my dad to diabetes 10 years ago. He was only 50. So, I had my reasons to freak out when I first got to know about my high sugar levels. And I did freak out and how! From “how did I get it?” to “how would I mange it” to “will my baby also be diabetic?,” my mind was full of questions (and misconceptions too) that I wanted someone to clear. Soon, I was on the mission to manage my sugars and my pregnancy. And I did it, thanks to my gynaecologist and my diabetologist. Here are a few things I did about gestational diabetes and sailed happy and healthy through the nine months…
Before we start, please note that it is possible to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby with gestational diabetes. It just translates into a little more care from you and a little more monitoring of your baby by your doctor, which would include the following points.
- Accept and acquaint: Accept the fact that you have a special condition to deal with during these nine months. Acquaint yourself with the situation by mindful reading of the subject (don’t even dare to hit google, if you are prone to panic!). Talk to your gynecologist, ask your questions and clear all the doubts and brace up for a healthy pregnancy!
- Meeting a diabetes specialist: While your gynecologist would know your pregnancy, a good diabetes specialist will handhold you through the nine-months. From monitoring blood sugar on your own to how to manage the sugar levels, what medicine to take and when to switch to insulin – he’ll be your guide for all this and more.
- Befriend a dietician: You might have already ditched the age old saying of ‘eating for two’ but there’s more to healthy eating than that when it comes to managing pregnancy with diabetes. It’s time to learn the diabetes management skills! Not only will a dietitian prepare a perfect dist for you but he/she will also guide you about managing sugar levels with food. How much and when to exercise to keep the sugar levels in control.
- Must Exercise: Though every pregnant woman needs to exercise, but if you have gestational diabetes, exercise is your best friend. Any form of pregnancy exercise is good for you as it lowers your blood sugar by stimulating your body to move glucose into your cells, where it’s used for energy. I used to walk, walk and walk – but at a controlled speed and cautious of my surroundings avoiding and tripping and falling. You can also go for swimming, low-impact water aerobics and water aerobics!
- Never miss your medication: Follow your doctor’s advice to the T when it comes to taking your medication. Don’t get hassled if you are advised insulin. One in three gestational diabetes patients might need insulin – it is absolutely safe and easy to use. If you are on tablets, don’t forget to take them at the time prescribed by your doc.
- Replace & switch: After being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you might have to replace some of the healthy food items too from your diet. Make way for sugar free museli in place of regular one and replace that high sugar protein powder with sugar free substitute. Don’t like the taste? I had my protein shake blended with half a banana. Yes, banana is any day a better sweetner than sugar! You can do it with your fav fruit as far as your dietitian approves of it!
- Brave the prick! Now, that you are doing most of the things right to control your sugars, you should get comfortable with the idea of testing yourself regularly. While you should get your HBA1C levels checked every three months, buying a glucometer is really important. Check your fasting and postorandial post meal sugars as recommended by your doctor (You might have to test it as many as 4-6 times a day. It’s just a little prick. Chill!). Regular monitoring will not only help the doctor to chart out your treatment plan and but will also keep gestational diabetes related complications at bay. I had become so prone to healthy eating and getting controlled results that checking my sugar levels regularly had turned into a high for me! There were bad days too, but trust me everything is manageable with correct diet, proper medication and good exercise.
- Sleep: Research shows that sound sleep is connected to reduced risk from gestational diabetes. While disturbed sleep due to pregnancy is common, if you are finding really hard to sleep through the night, please inform your doctor.
If you are pregnant with gestational diabetes, we’re sure you must be taking all the care in the world, which also includes skipping eating at your favourite restaurants. But, not any more! Restaurants across the country are running a unique – The Dabetic Food Trail all through the month of November! The diabetic-friendly, healthy, finger-licking good menu(I got to taste it!) that’s served as a part of The Diabetic Food Trail, is curated by Ms. Seema Pinto, who is successfully managing her sugars since the last 11 years.
For more details on restaurants that are a part of The Diabetic Food Trail, please check out their official website.
****Please refer to the dietary recommendations prescribed by your doctor / nutritionist before making a food choice. Not all diabetic-friendly food may be recommended during pregnancy. Please use your judgement.