I had my first child when I was 21 years old, but 15 years later and at 36 years old, I was having another baby. The first half of the pregnancy was what you would consider normal, but at about 25 weeks I went in for the usual glucose screening test, or a GCT. Unfortunately, I tested positive and had to then take the glucose tolerance test, or GTT. Again, I tested positive resulting in a gestational diabetes diagnosis.
After a brief visit with my practitioner I was referred to a dietician for further diabetes education. I had never known anyone with gestational diabetes so I definitely was not prepared for what was to come. I quickly attended a gestational diabetes education class with a large group of other pregnant women, where we were taught about basic nutritional information, specifically around sugar and carbohydrate intake and the body’s response to it.
We received a glucose monitor and test strips and were taught how to take and record our blood sugar readings. In addition, we were given food logs and asked to record every beverage, snack and meal over the course of a two-week time period, taking a pre- and post-meal blood sugar reading. After those couple of weeks, I went back to meet one-on-one with the nutritionist. She reviewed my food logs and blood sugar readings and determined that although I had been very disciplined with my food intake, and had done everything exactly as I was asked, diet alone was not controlling my blood sugar numbers.
Initially I found myself very emotional, even more than what’s considered normal for pregnancy. I felt that it all in some way was my fault and I was extremely concerned about the health of my baby. The medical professionals however, assured me that the extreme fluctuation of hormones that occur during pregnancy was the reason for my bodies response to blood sugar management and not anything that I had done, per se.
I was then referred to an endocrinologist. On our initial consultation, I took all my food logs and blood sugar readings. He concluded that the next step would be insulin injections. During pregnancy, you are unable to take traditional oral treatments like people with Type 2 diabetes. I was instructed to take and record eight blood sugar readings per day, one first thing in the morning, two at breakfast, two at lunch, two at dinner and one before going to bed at night. Additionally, I had to be begin immediately giving myself insulin injections directly into my stomach about 5-10 minutes before each meal. As someone who has always had an extreme fear of needles the whole process was quickly helping me overcome that fear.
I saw the endocrinologist every week for the remainder of my pregnancy. During each visit, he would review my blood sugar readings and adjust the insulin dosage accordingly. In my situation, it was always my morning numbers that seem to be most impacted by the condition.
As I progressed through my pregnancy I began to see my OB/GYN on a weekly basis during the last two months, and I had frequent ultrasounds to monitor the size of the baby. I learned through the process that babies with mothers who had gestational diabetes have the risk of growing quite large in size leading to early labor and C-section delivery. Thankfully, I was able to carry to term with a normal delivery.
After my son was born, the hospital staff continuously monitored the blood sugar of both me and my baby. I continued to receive insulin injections after meals and was put on a diabetic diet while in the hospital. My son was required to have three consecutive normal blood sugar readings before they would release us. It fluctuated slightly for him, but going into the second day he leveled out. It took about two months after he was born for my blood sugar numbers to return to normal.
After he was born I committed to nursing him for as long as possible, most importantly because it is what was best of him, but I learned through the process that breast feeding reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes for myself. It has been six years now, and I still do not have the disease.
If it was not for having that BCBS card in my pocket I do not know how I would have survived it all. The process alone was so stressful, I couldn’t image doing it without that outstanding coverage. I credit the success of my pregnancy/delivery to early detection, following the guidance of health professionals and continual routine physician care.
Presented by: Angela Reed
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