The Truth About Gestational Diabetes {And Why It’s Not Your Fault!}

by Birth Without Fear on June 24, 2013

So you’ve had the Glucose Tolerance Test, or maybe you’ve been monitoring you’re blood sugar levels at home, and your blood sugar readings were high. You have been given a diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes. If your experience was anything like mine, an Obstetrician or midwife gave you a pamphlet on ‘Diabetes and Pregnancy’, referred you to a dietician and endocrinologist for management, and then sent on your way. And now you’re at home, and all the questions you didn’t think to ask are flooding in…  What the heck is it? And what does it mean? Will my baby be alright? Do I need a caesarean? Will I need to be on insulin? What can I eat? Do I have to stop eating CHOCOLATE?!?!?!

There is some debate against the use of routine testing to diagnose Gestation Diabetes, and also questioning about giving the diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes as a label on pregnant women. Dr Sarah Buckley recommends avoiding routine testing for Gestational Diabetes for most women. Henci Goer and Dr Michael Odent are among many pregnancy and childbirth professionals who argue against diagnosing women with gestational diabetes, citing unnecessary stress and interventions as one of the risks of the Gestational Diabetes diagnosis. Nevertheless, whether you want to call it Gestational Diabetes or Pregnancy-Induced Insulin Resistance, or just high blood sugar levels in pregnancy, some women do have elevated blood sugar levels and need some extra help.

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM or GD) is described as a form of diabetes that develops during pregnancy, and usually goes away 4-6 weeks postpartum. In a pregnant woman without Gestational Diabetes, the body works ‘as usual’. You eat, your stomach breaks down your food, you start to digest it, and the glucose from the carbohydrates in your food enters the blood stream. The pancreas gets the signal to secrete more insulin into the blood stream to help the cells absorb the glucose and convert the glucose into energy. The blood glucose level increases straight after a meal but as the glucose is absorbed from the blood and into the cells, the blood glucose levels decrease. The blood glucose readings fluctuate as normal, but remain within the ‘prescribed levels’.

In a pregnant woman with Gestational Diabetes, the cells become ‘insulin resistant’. The pancreas makes ‘the usual’ amount of insulin to enable the cells to absorb the glucose, but because the cells have become ‘resistant’ to the insulin, the amount of insulin needed increases. When the pancreas makes as much insulin as it can, and the cells continue to struggle to absorb the glucose, this is Gestational Diabetes. The blood glucose levels in a woman with GDM rise as normal after a meal, but stay elevated due to the cell’s inability to absorb the glucose.

diabetes blood sugar test

So what can you do to prevent or stop insulin resistance and GDM from developing? There seems to be this myth floating around that fit and healthy women don’t get GDM, and unfit or unhealthy women are probably going to have GDM. It’s false. In pregnancy, insulin resistance is mostly caused by an increase in pregnancy hormones (hormones produced by the placenta). The hormones are thought to reduce the effect of insulin on the cell, as well as reducing the response of the cell to insulin. While keeping yourself healthy can reduce your risk, there is nothing that can stop your cells developing insulin resistance from the hormones made by the placenta. Although there appear to be some risk factors which could increase the chance developing Gestational Diabetes (for example, age, ethnicity, weight, personal or family history of diabetes,  or some hormone-related conditions such as PCOS), there are many women who develop insulin resistance and GDM who do not show any risk factors. In short, you just can’t control how your cells respond to your pregnancy hormones. There is a lot of research to suggest the most pregnant women will develop some insulin resistance during the pregnancy because of the increase in pregnancy hormones, but for many women the pancreas is able to produce enough insulin to maintain stable blood sugar levels and so it does not develop into diabetes.

There is also this idea that women with GDM can control it. Women are told “You just need to keep your diabetes under control.”, like it’s just that easy. Unfortunately, no one can explain how to control a cells response to the pregnancy hormones. You can’t control Gestational Diabetes. It happens sometimes. But telling a women that she should be able to control it really put unnecessary shame and blame on mothers who are frustrated and disappointed enough as it is. So if you’ve ever said this then, please, never say it again!

You can’t control Gestational Diabetes. It happens sometimes. But there are ways to help your body deal with it. Monitoring diet and engaging in regular exercise really can be the key for women who have low-to-medium level insulin resistance. The aim of monitoring your diet is to balance the amount of carbohydrate in your meals. The general consensus from dietitians and endocrinologists seems to be that having 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day (but please follow the advice of your personal care provider). It does make sense that it’s easier on your body if you spread out the carbohydrates into 3 balanced meals and 2-3 snacks instead of packing them into three carb-heavy meals per day. Another way to manage high blood sugar levels can be regular exercise, like walking. Going for a walk 30 and 90 minutes after eating to can help lower blood sugar levels by using up the excess glucose in the blood stream. Every person responds differently though, so if you do have Gestational Diabetes, please work with your care provider in finding the management plan right for you.

Some women develop a high level of insulin resistance, despite eating balanced and spaced out meals and snacks, and exercising regularly. These women continue to have consistently elevated blood glucose levels. I was one of those women.

When my hormones peaked at 32 weeks, I would not be able to eat a chicken and salad sandwich of barely 30g of carbohydrates without my blood sugar spiking well above the ‘allowed’ limits. People kept telling me to “control” my diabetes. I thought I was doing something wrong because my blood sugar levels were so high, so I reduced my carbohydrate intake drastically. The dietician put me on insulin when I started losing weight (and I was only 140lbs at 32 weeks, so didn’t have much to lose!), I had no energy and I was and spilling ketones into my urine.

If, like me, you are doing all you can and you still need insulin, please be kind of yourself – it’s not your fault. Remember, you can’t control this. You have a medical condition. You are insulin resistant. Your body just needs some help. Injecting insulin is very easy (I found it virtually painless, and nowhere near as unpleasant as the finger-prick tests!). It helps your body by giving it the extra insulin it needs when your pancreas is producing as much insulin as possible but your body is still unable to lower your blood sugar level.

Despite the myths floating around, a diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes does NOT mean you will automatically have a big baby. It does NOT mean you automatically need to have a cesarean. It does NOT mean you cannot VBAC. It does not mean your baby will definitely need to go to the Special Care Nursery… You have options, and a gentle, calm and intervention-free vaginal birth with gestational diabetes is possible for most women.

diabetes insulin pen

References:

Australian Diabetes Council. (2013). What is Gestational Diabetes. Retrieved on February 28, 2013, from http://www.australiandiabetescouncil.com/About-Diabetes/Gestational-diabetes

Buckley, S. J. (2008). ‘Gestational Diabetes Testing’. In Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: A Doctor’s Guide to Natural Childbirth and Gentle Early Parenting Choices. Retrieved on March 31, 2013, from http://www.fullcirclemidwifery.com/2009/02/gestational-diabetes-information/

Goer, H. (1996). Gestational Diabetes: The Emperor Has No Clothes. The Birth Gazette, 12(2). Retrieved on April 1, 2013, from http://www.gentlebirth.org/archives/gdhgoer.html

National Diabetes Service Scheme. (2013). Gestational Diabetes. Retrieved on February 20, 2013, from http://www.ndss.com.au/en/Diabetes-Information-Sheets/Gestational-diabetes/

National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. (2013). What I need to know about Gestational Diabetes. Retrieved on March 1, 2013, from http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/gestational/

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence [NICE]. (2008). Diabetes in pregnancy: Management of diabetes and its complications from pre-conception to the postnatal period. Clinical Guideline 63. Retrieved on April 1, 2013, from http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/pdf/CG063Guidance.pdf

Odent, M. (2004). Gestational Diabetes: A Diagnosis Still Looking For a Disease? Primal Health Research: A New Era in Health Research, 12(1). Retrieved on April 1, 2013, from http://www.bellybeginnings.com/Handouts/GestationalDiabetes-Odent.pdf

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa June 24, 2013 at 1:47 pm

This article hits such a soft spot and bought me to tears. I was diagnosed with GD at 28 weeks and cried everyday the last few weeks of my pregnancy because every time I tested my sugar it was always high and I was so fearful for my babys health. I would eat the best I can in hope to have my sugar under control but felt as though I was starving myself. Those last few weeks felt as if my organs wear shutting down on me. I developed low iron levels and cholestasis. This blog would have been of much help, had i known about this page then. Thankfully I know of it know. But what is said in this article is true. And GD is an emotional struggle.

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Merissa May 2, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Melissa,

How did everything turn out for you and baby? I’m currently 28 weeks and no matter what I do, my body is resisting the insulin and I’m constantly getting high #’s (140′s-190′s).

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LC June 24, 2013 at 3:24 pm

I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with my now-one-year-old… my glucose tolerance test levels at the 1hr and 3hr tests were JUST (<10 points) above the cut-off. The dietician put me on a low carb diet, which controlled my glucose levels almost too well. I didn't gain any weight in the last 10 weeks of pregnancy and I frequently had low blood sugar- particularly in the morning after my nutritionist-recommended low carb breakfast and 1 mile walking commute. I was hungry. I still had a 9lb 11oz baby via an unplanned c-section.

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Marie June 24, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Good comments on removing blame– while many (but not all) cases of type two diabetes outside of pregnancy are highly linked to lifestyle, gestational diabetes is definitely its own beast. Just remember, “control” requires full participation of the body, the mind, the health care team, and just a drop of luck. The mind (aka your behaviour) may not be the uncooperative part!

I also want to emphasize that is very important (as you said) to seek both diet/exercise treatment and medications if necessary. Severe “uncontrolled” diabetes can be very dangerous, and early symptoms aren’t always apparent, although you mentioned some symptoms you experienced. GD is also linked to health risks later in life, especially for the mother, so it’s helpful to know what later health concerns to watch for.

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Melissa June 26, 2013 at 9:17 pm
Darcy @ Tales From the Nursery June 24, 2013 at 11:29 pm

I’ve been meaning to share more about my own experiences with GD so I’m glad to read yours here. I’ve had it with both of my pregnancies but diagnosed early 2nd trimester (at 15 weeks first time and around 20 weeks the 2nd time). The first time I struggled and needed 5 insulin shots a day. This last time I only needed 1 insulin shot a day for the third trimester. That fasting number can be a real pain since it’s not related to your food intake.

I had both babies naturally. second was even 2 days post due date. Both babies around 7lbs. First OB (switched doctors second time around) pushed for an induction but baby came on her own before the scheduled date. That OB was “convinced” I was undiagnosed Type 2 because I was fat and had GD… she was wrong. My levels are normal when not preggo.

Thanks again for sharing.

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Kerrianne June 25, 2013 at 12:43 am

I have been diagnosed with GD for this pregancy (2nd baby). My 1st baby I didnt have it and my baby was 9pd 12oz. Luckily my diabetes educator and dietician can see I am doing everything i am meant to be doing and my levels were still high. I am now on insulin 3 times a day. I wasnt eating enough in the beginning and they told me i HAVE to have the right amount of carbs because that can have other effects on my baby.

Sometimes i still feel like its my fault, maybe if I had just waited and been fitter before falling pregnant with this baby i could have avoided this, There is alot of guilt that i am feeling and all i want is my baby to be born healthy and strong. Its a daily struggle to keep telling myslef I am doing the right things and doing my best but its stioll hard. Every appointment i go to i feel like i am waiting to be told there is something wrong with my son because of me. Its nice read that there are other people out there and it really isnt my fault this has happened.

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Cheryl June 25, 2013 at 10:39 am

I wish I had read this blog post when I was pregnant. When I got diagnosed with GD I was terrified. I think I cried for several days, finally calling my father to tell him even though I was somehow ashamed to say the words. It was hard at first, and my main goal was to avoid insulin. I ended up on the highest dose of glyburide near the end of my pregnancy, but it worked. Eating regularly (I was NEVER hungry during pregnancy), exercising and taking the medication, as well as regular visits to MFM helped keep everything under control. My daughter was 7 lbs 2 oz, full term, and spent not one second in the NICU. I thought I got GD because I was overweight, but a very fit and healthy friend had it during both of her pregnancies. It can happen to anyone, which is why I think testing is so important, even if you don’t have risk factors.

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Victoria S June 25, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Thank you for this article. I was recently diagnosed after being “required” to take both the 1 hour and 3 hour test in a 2 day span, after a high failure on the one hour. I barely failed the 3 hour, and my doctor is being nearly impossible to work with, wanting me to see specialist after specialist, which I just dont have time to do with a full time job and a toddler.

After monitoring my sugars for 4 days, I have not gotten one reading over 89. So I’m sure the stress of trying to handle all of this when I feel like a giant failure is going to wind up being what is worse for my unborn son, than the potential for occasional high blood sugar readings. All the stress, and the tears, and the frustration, I’m sure it’s worse.

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Jenny June 25, 2013 at 4:13 pm

I was diagnosed with both pregnancies with GD but I completely disagree with the diagnosis. For my first pregnancy, I failed the first GD test by three points and the second test by one point. My CNM made me check my sugar 4 times a day and repeatedly insisted that I take Metformin. I refused and two weeks after the diagnosis, my sugar levels were under control through diet alone (I didn’t know that complex carbs also increase sugar levels). The rest of my first pregnancy was so stressful and I ended up reverting back to my anorexic days of cardio for over 6 hours a day and less than 500 calories per day. Still my sugar levels were low (really low by the end) and after all the non-stress tests, which my baby passed with flying colors, the CNM still pushed for an induction at 39 weeks for fear of a big baby. I worked with my homebirth midwives (not the CNM from the doctor’s office) and eventually had to transfer to the hospital but thankfully I didn’t have to have a C-section for my “huge” 7-pound even baby, who was born six days past her due date.

For my second pregnancy, I took the first GD test again because again the CNM said I had to and failed it by 2 points. She of course wanted me to take the second test again but when I found out that the level of care her office would require of me wouldn’t change no matter the test result (as in lots of fingerpricks daily and trying to force medication on me), I refused the second test. The CNM wanted me to prick my finger at least twice a day. I would prick it maybe twice a week after particularly carb-heavy meals or if I felt bad but at the appointments with her I just lied about my sugar numbers – flat out. Because every time I really did check my sugar, the reading was within normal range but I knew I hadn’t been checking it often enough for her liking. I was hoping that by showing perfectly good numbers the entire time this go around that my care would change but it didn’t. I still had to have twice weekly non-stress tests, which are anything but non-stressful, and was threatened with a “big” baby again. I played along but as the old saying goes, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” I was not fooled this time around and birthed another 6-day late baby (on her own time) at home, who only weighed 8 pounds 4 ounces, even though I ate pretty much whatever I wanted. I also wanted to add that my stress level was greatly reduced the second time around by simply ignoring the CNM and telling her what she wanted to hear. I also didn’t have a single anorexic relapse.

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Katherine June 26, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Granted, I am done with pregnancy and birth, but I wish I read this when I was pregnant with my second child. I didn’t just fail the 3h GTT. I BOMBED it. All 4 blood draws were elevated. I was diagnosed 3 days before Thanksgiving, and 2 hours after that meal my blood sugar was over 200. There is no denying my diagnosis. My third pregnancy I was diagnosed at 9 weeks, and that time I weighed less and was in better health. I felt like I failed myself. I mean come on, who gets diagnosed at 9 weeks!? I’m thankful that the only complication they had at birth was very low blood sugar that wouldn’t rise after breastfeeding.

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Blake June 29, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Great, well-referenced article!! Thank you!

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Hannah September 12, 2013 at 5:23 am

This blog is such a breath of fresh air. I was a very healthy (marathon running) person pre-pregnancy and was repeatedly tested for GD. I finally failed the 3rd test at 35 weeks and felt the pressure was really on to get my diet under control so as to avoid medication at such a late stage. I was really knocked for six by my diagnosis, felt ashamed, guilty and struggled to come to terms with it (not helped by a midwife who, when I informed her I was struggling to draw enough blood with the finger pick test, informed me that it was all “self explanatory).

I too ended up with ketones and had to be admitted to hospital where I was accused of “starving myself” cue more guilt and shame.

I’ve managed to control everything with diet (whilst, if I’m honest, continuing to be in a form of denial about my diagnosis) but am still being induced next week, which I am fearful of.

Thank you for looking to remove the stigma attached to GD. Time for health professionals to follow suit and help us feel less guilty!

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Heather September 29, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Thank you for writing this. I’ve been beating myself up for this for two weeks now. Helps to know that I’m not the only one.

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C4a October 24, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Very nice post !!! Def i too found GD as an emotional stuggle , having 2 healthy pregnancies , and being said i have gd in my 3rd (i failed the fasting test with a 5.3 at 31 weeks and did not do the ogtt) :( it feels like theres alot of pressure on me now, i could eat everything i wanted to, and suddenly i can’t.. But i still continued eating whatever i wanted, as my sugar lvls were under the limits, until my last month, when they started spiking and im almost scared to eat anything now :(… I just want to deliver and finish off with this pregnancy !!! 37th going on now… But what makes me really tensed is that, every where i read that GD repeats itself once you get it :( …. Thats whats making me really sad :(… I cant have another normal perfect healthy happy pregnancy again like my first 2 ?????!!!

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Alison October 30, 2013 at 6:21 am

I too have been told i have this GD.
Well iv been scared to eat and if it spikes i panic.
Last night i had a takeaway due to getting home late and not wanting to cook it went to 9.4m/mols.

But for the past 5 Days have kept it under 7m/mol.
Whereas before my doctor wanted to stick me on metaformin for
Which i dont want to take and made him aware of it. I told them i would have ago at amending my diet again. But its constantly stressing me out, ketones in my urine for which my midwife frowns on (im 31 weeks) and i was scanned and my consultant has told me im on track and baby is smack in the middle of the growth chart weight approx 3IB 6oz.

So im highly confused, one tells me im fine the other says i need a strict doet but its really taking its toll i just want a healthy baby (my first) iv battles
With cancer thus year at the age of just 24 so this is that last thing i needed, im always hungry and iv lost 4Ibs. Since this diagnosis. Ahhh help!!

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Laura October 31, 2013 at 12:59 pm

I am so happy to have seen this article and everyone’s responses.

I was diagnosed with GD two weeks ago, and have had such a hard time with it. I felt guilty for not being in better shape when I became pregnant, and just ashamed about it in general. None of my friends with babies, or who are pregnant now, have had it, so I feel totally alone in this.

I am following the diet plan to perfection, after the first week I was put on medication because my levels were high and clearly no being controlled by diet and regular exercise, and I even lost weight. Also I had an infection of some sort – I think bladder, so now I know that infection can make your levels high, not to mention stress, which I’ve definitely had. Now I’ve been on medication for a few days, and it seemed to help at first, but now I am seeing random high numbers, even though I am fairly positive I am doing well with my diet and exercise. I am so scared to have to inject myself with insulin, but I just know that that is the next step. I have another appointment today, so hopefully I can get some insight as to why the meds are still not totally helping, and hoping, too, for some pointers to avoid insulin altogether, although it seems like there’s really nothing more I can do.

This article really helped me feel a bit better about it, however, so thank you very much for that!

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Jenn December 11, 2013 at 9:09 am

I am glad that I read this.
I did feel bad when I was diagnosed – only a couple days ago but I was not going to let me get too hard on myself.
I took the 3 hour was 5pts high at fasting and 3 points high at 1hr and passed the 2 and 3 hours perfectly fine which i still do not understand but did qualify me as having GD.
like everyone else dr is sending me to nutritionist and endocrinology and nurses for glucose meter – i have completely stopped eating anything that i would normally eat and im even too afraid to just have a bite of a cookie.
i dont feel like i am eating enough but im afraid to eat too much – hopefully the nutritionist can provide some guidance for me tomorrow.

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Emily December 21, 2013 at 5:09 am

At 29 weeks I was told by my obstetrician that my glucose tolerance test rated just outside normal at the second hour mark (but within the normal range at fasting and 1 hour after the drink) and that I had gestational diabetes. The first thing my partner said was “see, I told you to stop eating so much chocolate”. Thank you to this blog post for making it clear it has nothing to do with eating too much sugar, but is just something physiological during pregnancy.
Although every obstetric appointment throughout my pregnancy has shown my baby to be exactly average size for his age, I was worried about the effects of GD and spent the two weeks from my diagnosis to my appointment with the diabetes clinic rigorously avoiding all sugar possible. I was stressed and miserable as my obstetrician suggested a ‘strict no sugar diet’.
Since participating in the clinic and being taught how to check blood glucose levels at home, every blood test has been within the ‘good’ range. Even when I eat my regular diet, including sweets.
I don’t know what this means in terms of my diagnosis, but doctors really need to stop causing extra stress for pregnant women by talking about ‘strict diets’ and possible need for caesarean as soon as they hear the word gestational diabetes!

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Amy December 26, 2013 at 6:06 am

Thank you for this, I was diagnosed a couple weeks ago and I have been torturing myself with “should’ves and could’ves”. I was told all the worse-case scenarios very matter-of-fact and it killed me. I was bound and determined to prove them wrong, unfortunately my fasting levels are too high and they are recommending metformin. I was in disbelief, this is my 3rd pregnancy and the other two I was fine. So thank you for writing the truth, it’s nice to know that it’s not my fault and there is nothing I can do to truly control it (this is very hard for me).

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Karolina December 27, 2013 at 11:15 am

I am lucky in that my doctor’s have worked with me and, even if i have a couple of high readings in a week, as long as they are explainable have not been pushing meds on me.
This could of course be because all my fasting levels are in the 70-80 range, so it does really seem to be food/exercise which affects it.
I totally relate to the “guilt” feelings. I had lost about 20lbs before becoming pregnant, and exercised 6 days a week, (i still walk 1-1.5 hours a day) but was still overweight, and the doctor did seem to treat it as a given I would get gd and that it was effectively my fault for weighing too much.

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Amanda January 22, 2014 at 1:22 pm

I was diagnosed with GD at 29 weeks. Before pregnancy, I was a runner, considered underweight according to my BMI, and have absolutely no family history of diabetes anywhere in my family. I sometimes feel as though my abrupt exercise cessation and increased calorie intake helped contribute, but then I think I am just trying to regain some of the control I lost with this diagnosis by blaming myself.

I started to control it with diet. I carefully count out all my carbs, keep a runnint total in my pocket, record my blood sugar numbers (4 tests a day) in three different places, keep a detailed list of what I have eaten for each day…but I have noticed in the past few days, the numbers are creeping up across the board. Thankfully, my fasting numbers are ok. 1 hour after meals my numbers used to be in the low 100s, but in the past week, I see them creeping up to the 120s, 130s, and unfortunately, 140s. I haven’t yet broken the news to my diabetic counselor. I dont want to hear what the insulin criteria is…but I fear I am close to meeting it!!

I can’t believe the amount of stress this has put on me. I thought when first diagnosed, “no big deal, I can handle it…its just another experience” but as I get further into it, its taking a toll on my quality of life and my happiness. Maybe I am just being a little melodramatic. I am losing ambition to continue the carb counting, walking, excessive water drinking because it is doing me so little good lately. Its a very frustrating feel for sure! It is so reassuring to see the “GD success” stories. I am a little person and I can’t imagine toting around a 10 pound baby in there. The scaremongering is thick with this diagnosis.

Thank you everyone. I needed to vent :)

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Sasha January 30, 2014 at 7:50 pm

I was called today by my hospital asking why I wasn’t at my appointment, I was socked to hear on the phone from a compete stranger that I had GD, even though i see my consoltent 4days ago, no one has contacted me at all, over the phone they really have told me nothing other then my fasting teat was high by 1 and the other tests were fine.
I’m so confused and feel so guilty that before I even become a mother, something I’ve been wanting for a long time, I’ve already faild him. Now I have to wait a whole week just to talk to someone about this!

All my measurements have been perfect, I’ve been feeling fine in myself, no extra thrust, I’ve been to all my appointments, I just feel a bit cheated

I know I shouldn’t let his get to me but just needed to get it off my chest

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shahida begum February 14, 2014 at 8:04 pm

500 calories per day. Still my sugar levels were low (really low by the end) and after all the non-stress tests, which my baby passed with flying colors, the CNM still pushed for an induction at 39 weeks for fear of a big baby. I worked with my homebirth midwiv

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Sarah Rose February 25, 2014 at 6:50 pm

Thank you for writing this article and sharing your experience. I just found out I have gestational diabetes (32 weeks pregnant) and made the terrible mistake of looking up GD on the internet and was feeling quite guilty (and sobbing while reading I might add!) for something that is not within my control. I maintain a healthy weight both before and currently in my pregnancy and have a healthy diet rich in vegetables and protein, so my test results were beyond frustrating for me. You’ve helped put things into perspective.

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Jessica March 10, 2014 at 8:13 pm

I was diagnosed with my first and was luckily able to control my levels by watching what I ate. Of course, after that last finger-prick of the day, I may have been a little less careful about what I consumed. Not every night, but I wasn’t going to skip out on parties, or worse, go to them and just stare longingly at that chicken and grape salad croissant. Anyway, what really skeeved me after the fact was when I finally saw my test results, well after the baby was born. With the exception of the first one on the 3-hour test, all of the threshold levels were 10 points lower than ACOG’s recommendation. I was only out on two, and only by a few points. This means that if they had gone by ACOG’s standards I never would have been diagnosed, and what kind of disease does that make it if they can arbitrarily lower the standards so as to diagnose more women? I didn’t get tested at all with my second, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to keep on going that way.

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Louise March 11, 2014 at 4:24 am

This is my second pregnancy and second diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes. Last time it was diet-controlled and everything went well with a drug free birth and a normal sized baby girl. This time I have been put on nighttime insulin already at 30 weeks, and was pretty devastated that all my efforts to “avoid” gdm this time didn’t help. I now am classified as having a high risk pregnancy so I can’t give birth at my local hospital but have to travel 90min to a larger and much more impersonal hospital. This is not sitting well with my nesting instincts.
I am a bit overwhelmed by all the focus on food and exercise and wish that the health care professionals I have seen would be less prescriptive of very specific dietary advice administered in a condescending tone. Being treated like a naughty child who knows nothing about nutrition is not conducive to a stress-free pregnancy. I had the flu for 2 weeks right before being prescribed insulin and I can’t help but wonder if my bgl’s would have gone down a bit anyway as i got better. Frustrating. Anyway, on a positive note, bub is a good size.
This page has been helpful and reassuring for me, so thank you!

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Julia March 27, 2014 at 11:53 am

Just got diagnosed with GD…I am in my 27th weeks and have PCOS, so they send me for glucose tests. Three hour glucose, my 2 hr was elevated by about 30, my 3 hr was elevated by 1. So I was dignosed :( now i have to prick my finger 4 times a day…talk about stress as I hate needles. went to nutritionist and my diet seems great, in fact it’s lower on carbs that what I am allowed. Been checking for days and it was normal…then all of the sudden, the number is high and it feels wrong…check again minutes after and it’s low…so talk about added stress :( I hate this thing.

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Gemma Newbury May 7, 2014 at 5:42 pm

I am so glad that I found this article. Everything that I had read or been told so far implies that you need to cut down on this and that which I have done, but my glucose levels are still coming out high, yet I feel as though I am starving myself. I don’t have any weight to lose so have found this extremely scary. I am almost 34 weeks now, was diagnosed late so my little one is already 2 weeks bigger than what she should be and I have a lot of extra fluid. I have been blaming myself, saying I could have been healthier. This article has really helped me to understand that it is not my fault and that sometimes these things just happen. Thank you so much!

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Sharmaine May 25, 2014 at 10:20 pm

I am very greatful for finding this article as I have been eating healthy and having the required (or lower) amount of carbs in my meals and at times I am still coming out with some higher numbers. In fact what I ate for breakfast (Fruit & Spice English Muffin) yesterday – two hours after – my prick test numbers were fine. Then today I ate the exact same thing for breakfast (less a coffee) and – two hours after – my prick test numbers have come back over what they should be. This has become quite a frustrating thing. It is quite a mental challenge now as to what else I can do! I cant cut the meal in half or else I would be starving. If I only ate half an english muffin for breakfast I will be very hungry later. What else is there to do.! I really dont want to have to have insulin as I wont be able to give it to myself, I hate needles as it is – let alone having to give to myself.

All that aside, thank you for putting this article up as it has helped me cut the tears back from this morning and give myself half a break in that its not necessarily what I am doing wrong. Initially I put a massive blame on myself and beat myself up quite a bit.

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Eva May 29, 2014 at 10:32 pm

When I failed my GTT at 28 weeks, I was certain that lack of sleep the night before and finishing my lucozade in 3 mins at the test was probably the reason I failed. The dr did not agree. I still insisted that I manage my levels by diet. I ate everything to see how it affected my levels and funnily bread cereal orange juice and digestives were my biggest culprit. Chocolate, lemonade and ice cream were fine despite my hubby saying told you to cut down on your sugar. A week later, my dr labelled me with GD and prescribed Metformin which states on the packet not to take when pregnant. I refused to take medicine and gave myself another week to monitor my diet as I had noticed that stress lack of sleep and large portions can hike my levels. So if i have half a sandwich and the other half 2 hrs later, my levels are much better. My levels do fluctuate without reason at times but most of the times I know why they are high.

I know GD is not good for the baby but I find hospital put pregnant women under undue stress even when their levels are just slightly above average.

The week I got diagnosed with GD, I also started showing signs of Obstretic Cholestasis which I am told are somehow linked. So not only do I have to go on a restrictive diet and change my eating habits (when I should be enjoying food), I also spent sleepless nights itching and running to loo.

I am seeking homeopathy help but even he thinks I should take medicine as his treatment may take a few weeks to work. I suppose I will have to make a decision soon but this whole process has changed my perception of what we feed our bodies. I never looked at food labels and now I see how much sugar we consume indirectly.

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Devra June 12, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Thank you so much for this post! I’m in the exact same position as you were, but I’m not yet on insulin (I’m sure that will be soon). I’ve stressed out, been beating myself up and I’ve tried everything to get my fasting numbers lower than 95. My doctor seems to think my numbers are fine, but my nutritionist is alarmed that my fasting numbers are consistently between 98-107. My nutritionist keeps asking me to change my bedtime snack, but nothing is working and I’ve been so upset thinking I wasn’t trying hard enough! I’ve only gained 18lbs. and I’m 32 weeks, so I’m on track for proper weight gain. It’s just nice to hear a perspective that doesn’t place the blame on the mother because the health care providers seem to do that enough. Thank you!

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Liz June 17, 2014 at 6:55 am

I really appreciate this article and all the comments! It makes me feel less alone. I’m nearly 36 wks, was diagnosed at 29wks. When I saw my levels I looked them up online and they are lower than what both the NICE and NHS (I’m in the UK) state. Makes me think I may just have a slight intolerance, and not full blown GD. I been able to easily manage my numbers with a few diet changes, while still having the occasional treat (just less of it). I am having apts every 2 weeks and everything is perfect. Scans every 2 weeks, everything normal. I’m not enjoying this pregnancy any more, just want it to be over as I’m so sick of all the apts and stress. I had planned on a home birth like with my first, but of course am being advised against it. Still undecided at this point. The risks I’m being told about are shoulder dystosia and big baby with an increased risk in tearing. I know all these are “risks” for any pregnancy, not just with GD. The last consultant I saw was horrible and said GD increases the risk of stillbirth! I had never been told this by any of the other people I’d seen and had never read it, so I just nodded and left. I discovered this is only an increased risk (slight) for uncontrolled GD. Thankfully, there hasn’t been talk of induction (I will refuse if they start up with this). I’ve put all this down to the fact that I didn’t loose weight in between pregnancies, but it’s good to know that that might not be the case. All the stress this has caused is motivating me to get fit after baby arrives, but I know it may not prevent GD in future pregnancies. If I’m ever in this situation again, I think I will refuse a lot of the apts and scans, as they only cause stress and heartache. Rant over.

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Puja July 14, 2014 at 3:15 am

Thanks for sharing this enlightening piece of article.. I was diagnosed with GD at 25 weeks of pregnancy. I was really devastated and it was really hard especially when you have to listen to people who cook up stories regarding GD and scaring the hell out of you. I immediately took action and tried, in every possible ways to eliminate foods that contained sugar or high level of carbohydrates. I was always in constant fear if I am eating alright, if my baby will be fine… I even tried including bitter gourds into my meal ( I really hate the taste of it) and just anything that will keep my glucose level in control. I am now going on to 29 weeks and I hoping for the best.

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