The worst day of my first pregnancy was by far the day I had to submit to the three hour gestational diabetes test. Don’t get me wrong, the one hour test – drinking that way too sugary drink and getting blood drawn – was not a party by any means, but the three hour test was awful. Making a hungry, pregnant lady fast for 12 plus hours, making her drink a disgusting, sugary glucose drink that hopefully no one ever drinks for breakfast, and then drawing blood four times over the next three hours while not being able to consume any food or beverages SUCKS! And that does not even add in the unbearable heartburn caused by the sugary drink. And, and the shaky, ravenous hunger felt throughout the fasting period. How is this test even legal to perform on a woman in her third trimester of pregnancy?
Do you want to know what sucks even worse than the three hour gestational diabetes test? Getting the final result that you do in fact have gestational diabetes. When I received this result my first time around I had no idea what I was in for. Many more blood draws, many more food tests, way too many specialist doctor appointments and some pretty horrible advice from a licensed nutritionist. Not to mention I could no longer eat whatever I wanted during the final trimester of my pregnancy. Then comes the finger pricking and insulin shots prior to every meal. None of this even takes into account the panic you start to feel over how all of this is affecting your unborn child. Gestational diabetes can have some pretty scary consequences, including large babies or even stillbirth. Still, it was my diagnosis to bare.
When I went to see the nutritionist to find out what kind of diet I should be consuming with my diagnosis, she reviewed plenty of options of whole grains, artificial sweeteners, prepackaged convenience foods, lean meats and of course fruits and vegetables. I left the office a little confused since artificial sweeteners seemed dangerous for pregnant women to consume, but unfortunately I did not know everything about nutrition then that I know now. I followed her advice as best as I could hoping to be able to control my gestational diabetes through diet instead of having to take insulin shots or medications.
After a week or so of trying to control my blood sugar through the prescribed diet and faithfully sending my blood sugar readings to my assigned Endocrinologist, it was determined that I did in fact require insulin shots prior to every meal. Not the best news.
As if all of this extra work during pregnancy was not bad enough, gestational diabetes during the actual birth was no picnic either. I was told my blood sugar would have to be tested every hour during my expected 30 plus hour labor. Good news did come from all of the extra work I put in during my third trimester of pregnancy: my baby was born a healthy 7 pounds, 9 ounces. But my poor little newborn had to be stuck with needles in his tiny feet the first few days in the hospital to make sure his blood sugar was stable. It was so sad seeing the tiny band aids on his tiny feet.
Once the whirlwind of having a new baby subsided, I reflected on what I should have done differently to avoid the gestational diabetes diagnosis. Most of the research I found told me I was not at fault. The research said due to my age, ethnicity, and relative’s health history I was basically doomed to receive this diagnosis and all I could do about it was exercise daily and eat a low-fat, high whole grain diet. Still, I blamed myself.
Six months after giving birth I decided to test my blood sugar again just to make sure it came down. I was following Weight Watchers at the time hoping to lose some of the baby weight that still lingered. I had been eating what I was told was healthy for at least two months at this point. Well, my weight was not budging and neither was my blood sugar. All of these months later I still had a fasting blood sugar of over 130, which is considered diabetic.
It was at this point I started to search for a different solution. Obviously the methods I had been taught and trying most of my life were no longer working. I was scared with my previous yo-yo dieting history that I just screwed up my metabolism and was destined to be unhealthy, diabetic and overweight for the rest of my life. Luckily it was not a diagnosis I just willingly rolled over for and accepted. Luckily I came across the book Kick Your Fat in the Nuts.
The book and the companion podcast Kick it Naturally taught some of the same things I already knew from being a veteran dieter, but it also taught me so much new information I had never heard before. I was not sure how that could be possible since I felt I have read every diet book and article in existence over the prior twenty plus years. Out of desperation I just decided to go with the author’s advice to see what would happen. Nothing else I tried was keeping me healthy, so I figured I needed to try something new.
Long story short, as I have written about how life changing this information has been many times in the past, I changed the way my body digests food with natural supplements, I was able to switch to a high-fat, low-carb diet seamlessly, I lost more than 70 pounds in just over a year and my fasting blood sugar went down to that of a normal, healthy person. I also corrected so many other health problems I struggled with my entire life by changing the way I eat and digest foods. In short, I was over 35 years old and felt the healthiest I had ever felt in my entire life.
The reason I decided to write about experience now is I am currently seven months pregnant with my second child and that means it is time for round two of gestational diabetes testing. While I was putting in so much work losing weight after my first pregnancy, people asked me why I was doing the work if I just planned to have another baby. Why bother struggling with taking off the baby weight if I was just going to add it back on with a second baby? I think those people have no idea how much gestational diabetes sucks. Although the odds were against me, I was determined to work as hard as I could to at least have a chance at not having to go through the insulin shots and daily finger pricking again.
Unfortunately from everything I have read and been told, that chance was tiny. Pretty much non-existent actually. The chance of developing gestational diabetes with a second pregnancy after having the diagnosis with your first is at least 70%. Add in that I am now over 35 years old, and the chances of the diagnosis gets even higher. I have read that all of the exercise and healthy eating in the world just does not help some people. Even with all of the work I had done since my son was born, I was hoping for the best but definitely preparing for the worst…again.
About a week ago I was sent for the one hour screening for gestational diabetes. I was told to fast overnight and then I had to guzzle that nauseating drink in under five minutes. One hour later my blood was drawn. Later that day I had my regular check up with my doctor. As soon as she walked in the room she blurted out, “Well, you failed the one hour glucose screening. Don’t worry, that is to be expected given your previous history. I will send you for the three hour test and hopefully you will be able to control this with diet and exercise.”
My heart sank. I knew the odds were against me, but I really thought all of the hard work I put in would come through for me. I no longer consumed sugary beverages. I ditched the artificial sweeteners long ago. While I do eat more carbohydrates now that I am eating for two, the quality of my diet this pregnancy compared to last is so much better. This news did serve as a wake up call that I still could be eating better and make sure I get some form of exercise every day.
I decided to search the good old internet to see if there was anything I could do in between tests to help my chances of passing the three hour test. What I found was just more of the same old, same old – eat whole grains, lean meats; lower saturated fats and sugar. Eating that way is what made me so unhealthy in the first place, so I decided to go with my gut and what I have learned and stuck with my diet of unlimited saturated fats, less grains and fattier cuts of organic meats.
Yesterday was the big day. Once again I fasted for over 12 hours and then submitted to the torture of the extra sugary glucose drink and four blood draws in three hours. The good news is since I fixed my digestion, the excruciating heartburn I experienced last time I took this test was non-existent. I did experience quite a bit of nausea since my body is no longer used of that rush of glucose. Water just does not have the same effect on a gal I suppose.
Later that day I noticed a missed call from my doctor’s office, but she did not leave a message. Dum, dum, dum. I thought this could not be good news. She must be waiting to deliver the bad news over a conversation instead of a voicemail. Then I got the email with the final results of the three hour glucose test. I dreaded opening it. I was not ready for months of insulin shots and finger pricking. But wait – this can’t be right, can it? I PASSED!!! My fasting blood sugar and all of the subsequent blood tests to follow were all listed in the normal range. There is a Santa Claus!
Unless you have dealt with the gestational diabetes diagnosis in the past, you probably do not realize what a miracle not having the diagnosis again is. Had I listened to previous my previous doctors, nutritionist and most information the mainstream health gurus promote, I have no doubt I would be pricking my finger right now. Instead I chose an alternative route that has literally fixed my body that was previously falling apart piece by piece. I am so happy to have corrected this problem so I do not have to worry about the health of my unborn child.
I am not going to lie and say I feel great this pregnancy. After all, I went from feeling the absolute best I ever have in my life to being 36 and pregnant. While being older and pregnant definitely has its own challenges, I am ecstatic to be living a healthier life and cannot wait for the next 11 weeks to pass to meet my healthy, newborn son. Also, selfishly I am ready to get back on my digestive supplements and back to feeling as wonderfully as I did before I was pregnant.
If you are struggling with health problems, trying to lose stubborn weight or want to learn about how to live your healthiest life, please contact me on Facebook or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you decide to fix your digestion with natural supplements, please use my code on Natural Reference: nissahelpsme. Also, feel free to contact me as I am more than willing to help you figure out what will help you the most.
Natural Reference Supplements: Please use practitioner code: nissahelpsmeLet's Connect!