Pregnancy and Diabetes – Siwan Richards’ experience
Nine months. You can do a lot in nine months. You can grow a person!
Nine months of pregnancy. Nine months of the body changing and developing. Nine months of reading books. Nine months of receiving opinions and advice. Nine months of worrying mixed with looking forward. Nine months of preparation.
My pregnancy changed course when I was 29 weeks when I found glucose in a routine urine test. I was sent to have a more detailed glucose test within 3 days that confirmed that I had Gestational Diabetes.
I had heard of Gestational Diabetes, but didn’t think I’d be diagnosed with it, so it was a bit of a shock. I was not overweight, not over 35 years of age, and there was no history of type 1 diabetes in the family. Indeed, the consultant and the sonographer were also shocked by the diagnosis.
Gestational Diabetes is high blood sugar during pregnancy that usually goes after birth. It develops if the body fails to produce enough insulin – a hormone that helps control blood sugar levels – to meet additional needs in pregnancy.
I went into a rhythm of testing myself four times a day quite easily, using a tool to draw blood and see if I was managing the insulin. I had to keep on the right track with everything I was eating. If I couldn’t control through diet, tablets or insulin would have to be taken. For a person who doesn’t usually take tablets, this made me determined to control through diet.
I found the change in what I could eat quite hard. Up until the diagnosis, I had been eating very well. I wouldn’t say that I was eating badly, eating nutritious meals. Even so, if I felt like something sweet, I would have it without thinking twice.
I felt that this was a different sort of diet. Normally, I would have had porridge, banana and grapes for breakfast over the cold winter months – pretty healthy, you say. However, the porridge was high in carbohydrates and the fruit high in sugar. So, it was a choice of a slice of brown bread with eggs, or plain yogurt with berries and nuts.
As someone who enjoys a cup of tea, I had changed to decaf tea before the diagnosis. The hard part was to reduce what I eat with the tea! No chocolate, biscuits or cakes. However, I occasionally had a digestive biscuit or a small piece of dark chocolate, which wasn’t too bad, apple with peanut butter, or plain crackers.
Cawl for lunch – perfect. For dinner, I would usually have something like chicken stew from the slow cooker with mash potato. However, I couldn’t eat most carbohydrates such as mash, chips, pasta or rice, so a choice of a small jacket potato or sweet potato, with a lot of green vegetables.
As the pregnancy was a higher risk due to diabetes, I had to have an extra scan every four weeks to ensure the growth of the baby and also meet with a consultant every fortnight. I had to give birth in the Labour Ward rather than the Midwife Unit – something that I had hoped to avoid. Even so, I had a very positive birth.
Diabetes is not a condition to take lightly. I learnt how serious diabetes is by being in the middle of it. The minute Gruff was born, the diabetes had gone, and he is also clear of the condition. Amazing! Even so, there is a strong possibility of Gestational Diabetes with future pregnancies and a risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
By having Gestational Diabetes, it forced me to eat very well during the second half of my pregnancy. It controlled my weight that was great for my health during and after pregnancy – something that I should have considered from the beginning.
So, reduce carbohydrates and sugar. There’s a lesson for us all there, I’m sure. But remember, I enjoy carbs and sugar as the next person!
Who knows why I had Gestational Diabetes but it was an experience and an eye opener. In the words of Alex Jones, the nine months of pregnancy, and the subsequent period, has really been ‘Winging it’ for me. I’m sure I’m not alone!
Mam Cymru would like to thank Siwan for sharing her experience and for preparing this article especially for our readers. If you have a story to share, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.