How to cope with gestational diabetes

This week has been quite tough, I found out that I have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes and I am now having to test my sugar levels four times a day to make sure my levels are good.

What is gestational diabetes:

Glucose produces energy in your body, the levels of your glucose are kept under control by something called insulin. When your blood glucose level is high (such as after a meal), insulin allows the extra glucose to be stored in your cells for later use. Then, when your blood glucose levels fall, another hormone (glucagon) releases some of that stored glucose to keep enough energy available to your body.

When you are pregnant, your body produces high levels of hormones. Some of these hormones stop insulin working as well as it normally does. Usually, the body responds by increasing the amount of insulin it produces. However, some women do not produce enough of this extra insulin, resulting in gestational diabetes.

Risk factors of gestational diabetes:

You are more likely to develop gestational diabetes if these apply to you:

  • You have a BMI of more than 30 before you became pregnant.
  • You have had gestational diabetes in previous pregnancies. 
  • You have intermediate family members with diabetes.

Even if you don’t have any of these risk factors, if it is found that you have glucose in your urine, you may be tested anyway just to be sure.

Symptoms of gestational diabetes:

Sometimes you may not even know that you have diabetes (I am one of the women that had no idea that I could possibly have it, and this is why at your booking appointment you are questioned so that your midwife can plan ahead for you to be tested for diabetes.

So if you are one of the women who do get symptoms they may include:

  • Being very thirsty.
  • Having a dry mouth.
  • Needing to wee a lot (Even though you tend to get this when you are pregnant anyway).
  • Being tired.
  • Repeated infections, such as thrush.
  • Blurred vision.

Treatment of gestational diabetes:

For most women, changing of your diet helps and exercising more. However, some women may need medication to help. If you are like me, you will start with a blood sugar meter which tests your levels. 

Blood glucose levels are usually measured in terms of the amount of millimoles of glucose in one litre of blood. A millimole is a measurement that defines the concentration of glucose in your blood. The measurement is expressed as millimoles per litre, or mmol/l for short.

Your individual mmol/l target will be set for you. This may include a target for your:

  • fasting blood glucose (after you have not eaten for around eight hours – normally first thing in the morning)
  • postprandial blood glucose (one or two hours after you have eaten)

You will be advised when and how often you need to test your blood glucose. You may need to test your fasting blood glucose and your blood glucose after every meal throughout your pregnancy.

If your diabetes is being treated with insulin, you may need to test your blood glucose before going to bed at night.

For even more information about gestational diabetes I would recommend visiting nhs or diabetes.org.uk.
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