The contents of this article present the research and ideas of its author(s) on gestational diabetes and was created for informational purposes only. All information, content, and material on this website is for informational purposes and not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider. Consult with your qualified physician or healthcare provider before starting any diet, supplement regimen, or to determine the appropriateness of the information contained herein, or if you have any questions regarding pregnancy or your prenatal treatment plan. Thirty & Co, LLC disclaims responsibility for any adverse effects resulting directly or indirectly from any information contained on this website.
The dreaded glucose screen
I conceived my first child during a round of Whole30. I was a stickler with everything I put in my mouth and on my body. It was SO important to me. I had been dreading the glucose screen before my first trimester even ended. I voiced some concern to one of the midwives at the practice and they assured me that it was for the best. My office offered a dye-free version of the glucola drink, and I decided not to push it too much.
Because of Thanksgiving travel, I ended up taking the test a bit later in pregnancy. I completed the 1 hour screen on a Monday and failed it by two points. I then had to return on that Friday for the 3 hour test. Once again, I voiced my concerns with ingesting that much sugar within a week’s time. They assured me I needed to come in since I was a little further along than they typically complete the test.
My gestational diabetes diagnosis
Friday came, and I survived the test. I immediately picked up lunch, went home, ate, and napped for hours, but I felt awful. My joints hurt, my head hurt, and I felt dehydrated and exhausted. They called me Sunday afternoon reporting that out of the four blood draws I missed two. I passed the first fasting blood sugar, failed the first hour by two points, failed the second hour by like 20 points, and passed the third hour. They referred me to a Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialist to track the rest of my pregnancy in addition to my regular check-ups with them. I immediately began testing my blood sugar four times per day, the first one fasting, and then two hours after each meal. I brought my week-long numbers in for my first appointment with the MFM.
Being “high risk”
It was frustrating to be treated as “high-risk.” I experienced a lot of anger–and that’s okay! I felt that I lacked information and my questions weren’t adequately answered. During the last 10 weeks of my pregnancy, I tested my sugars four times per day, every day. I submitted my blood sugar numbers weekly and did weekly sonograms at the MFM. They also added two additional sonograms to measure the baby, similar to an anatomy scan.
During that time, I had two “high” readings. One of these occurred after eating curry from a Thai place. I later learned that they add sugar to curry, so that plus the white rice was not great for GD. The other one was after my birthday dinner where I enjoyed an appetizer, meal, and dessert with my husband.
My happy ending
Despite all of these challenges, I am happy to report that I had a beautiful perfect baby girl weighing in at 7 lbs and 1 oz. I was induced at 40 ½ weeks because they were concerned about me going too far past my due date and the baby getting “too big.” Thankfully our little peanut and I ended the journey super healthy with no sugar concerns. I am also happy to announce I am pregnant with our second baby! So…with this experience and information what am I going to do this time around?
My plan for pregnancy #2
First, I have to take the glucola test early (12-16 weeks). If I pass that, then I will have to take it again at the typical time (24-26 weeks). Second, I have already talked with my doctor about not ever doing the 3-hour test again. I agreed that if I failed either of those tests I would just assume I have gestational diabetes. I went into the first appointment knowing this is what felt right for me. My concern with alternative testing is that if I tested my sugars for a few weeks, my numbers would likely be normal and I do not want to assume I do not have GD if I do!
If I do test positive, I am confident I will be able to manage with food as medicine like the first round and hopefully keep that little babe safe in my womb until he decides the time is right. I look forward to the possibility of not having to go through GD with another pregnancy. But only time will tell! If you have GD right now, I want you to know–you got this, mama. You can handle hard things. There are resources out there to help you, and please feel free to reach out to me!
My advice to mamas
To all the mamas going through this: feel all the feelings and trust your gut. I found Lily Nichol’s book “Real Food for Gestational Diabetes” consoling and helpful. I already knew I would be sticking to my Whole30-inspired diet. Lily’s book helped me learn how to use what I already knew about myself and body from Whole30 plus gave guidance on how to pair foods and what times of day may be best to consume them.
Thankfully, my fasting numbers were never a concern. I think that my whole foods-based diet helped with this, but I know for some this is a problem regardless of the food you eat. Lily’s book offers guidance on how to manage this with timing of your last meal and suggestions on exploring different foods.
Discover what works for your body
One of the reasons I felt so connected to and loved Lily’s book from the beginning was the idea of experimenting with what worked best for you and your body. This is one of the reasons I love Whole30! Lily offers information on the foods that impact blood sugar and those that do not. Take on this journey just as you would with Whole30–learn what works or does not work for YOU! I was able to utilize her resources to determine what foods worked best for me.
I discovered that my body needed white or sweet potatoes one to two times per day. Fortunately, these did not impact my readings since they are some of the foods that can impact blood sugar! Berries were a great addition to my breakfast and did not spike any readings. I had been planning on eating dates towards the end of pregnancy to prepare for labor and delivery. Quickly, I noticed this impacted my sugar levels and had to let that plan go. Finally, I figured out that eating three meals and one to two “snacks” or “mini-meals” each day helped me feel my best and provided consistent blood sugar numbers. Remember through all of this–give yourself grace. It’s not your “fault” that you developed Gestational Diabetes. Now that you’re armed with this knowledge, you can continue to be proactive for your health and the health of your baby.
Interested in more information on GD and support from other moms who’ve been there? Consider joining our Whole Mamas Pregnancy Program.
Heather DeJarnette is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and momma. She currently works as a therapist and enjoys supporting others in becoming more consciously aware of how they speak to themselves. Heather believes that change starts from within and utilizing these skills in addition to incorporating the Whole30 guidelines in your life can create long-lasting life changes. She would love to support you on your Whole30 journey. Connect with Heather on Instagram.