It’s interesting (lame, but interesting) that two diseases that lurk in my family history have reared their ugly heads during pregnancy – first hypothyroidism, and now, diabetes. Luckily, both should disappear after I give birth.
Gestational diabetes behaves similarly to Type 2, but isn’t related to your diet or activity level prior to diagnosis. Hormones coming from the placenta make you insulin resistant (to make sure the fetus gets enough glucose to grow), and problems arise if your pancreas is not able to keep up with your body’s increasing demands for insulin. Congratulations, you now have diabeetus! If undetected or uncontrolled, this will lead to your fetus getting way too much glucose every time you eat, which can make her gain an excessive amount of weight and possibly become hypoglycemic after birth when her constant stream of glucose is cut off. Once you deliver the placenta, you will no longer be diabetic. Huzzah!
Now I have to follow special dietary guidelines and measure my blood glucose four times a day. Luckily (most of it is luck, but there’s also a lot of work and commitment) I’ve been able to control this with diet and exercise so far, but since my body’s insulin needs will keep rising until week 38 or so and you just never know what the placenta is going to decide to do during that time, I can’t rest easy quite yet. If I do have to go on medication to control this, I will be moved from the midwifery clinic to a high risk OB. I love my midwives, so I am very, very motivated to make this work…but like I said, it really is the placenta that’s calling the shots.
The dietary changes haven’t been that bad – most of my normal meals fit into the guidelines (and beans, my beloved musical fruits, work wonders for mah sugahs), but I have to make sure all my meals and snacks are a balanced mix of enough carbs, protein and fat, and no more pizza or Trader Joe’s Mini Peanut Butter Cup binges. (There’s a Trader Joe’s next to our hospital though, so you can guess what my first post-partum snack is going to be.)
The biggest surprise for me is how important exercise and general movement is. I knew theoretically that physical activity is a good way to fight insulin resistance, but it wasn’t until I could see it in my own blood glucose values that I realized just how big of a difference it really does make. I make it a priority to exercise after every meal now, whereas before, I would honestly usually just eat and then plop down in front of the tv or computer for a couple of hours.
In the interest of finding the silver lining(s) of this whole situation and staying positive:
- more frequent exercise is making me feel great mentally and physically – my pelvis even seems less cranky now that I’m spending less time lounging on the couch – and I’ve finally started doing some strength training again (when it’s too hot to go for a walk)
- Wellie and Basil are in heaven when I take them for walks after every meal and pretty much think I’m the best human ever
- Housework counts as physical activity, so JK pretty much thinks I’m the best human ever
- I’m motivated to eat so much healthier than I would normally (especially when it’s hot as Hades outside and ice cream exists), and Lil’ Fetus and I are getting all sorts of excellent nutrition from all the greens and veggies I’m eating
- I’m also gaining less weight than I normally would have, which will hopefully make it easier to keep hiking through these last few months
Speaking of hiking, if(/when) I do at some point crave some sort of foodstuff that I really shouldn’t eat, I can most likely eat it while on a hike, ’cause that shizz burns glucose like nobody’s business. We hiked to Talapus and Olallie Lakes a couple of weeks ago, and no matter how many date balls I threw down my gullet, my blood sugar stayed nice and balanced the entire time. Maybe I can try some peanut butter cups next time…