Health | Pregnancy & Gestational Diabetes

A woman in a white sweater smiling and holding her phone to take a selfie.
I’m writing this post tonight for two reasons – firstly to share my story, but also in the hope that it helps someone. I’m by no means a medical professional or an expert on the matter but I wanted to share my experience and would like to hope that no-one else goes through what I did.

Let’s take it back seven years to when I was expecting my first born. Despite finding out late, I was never offered a glucose tolerance test to be tested for gestational diabetes – in fact, I’d never heard of it, nor had any idea what it was. To say I was shocked this time – to firstly be tested but then be diagnosed – would be a complete understatement. My health, circumstances and risk hadn’t changed since then, so I’m not sure why this time I was deemed a high risk and needed to take the test.

I found out just a few days before Christmas that I had GD – and by found out, I received a phone call asking me to go back to the hospital. Not once did I find out my result – and to this day, it’s not on my records. I picked up my blood monitoring kit without any support or guidance, just told to download an app which would sync to my device and record my blood sugar readings four times a day (first thing in the morning and after meals). I was then told I’d be seeing a diabetes specialist midwife, which turned out to be a dietician and I literally couldn’t believe it.

Anyone that knows me, has seen my recipe posts on here, or photos of my dinners on Instagram, will know I eat well. I eat a balanced diet, I avoid white bread, rice and pasta and my only downfall is that I’m partial to a sweet snack (or two… but easy to cut out). What I noticed from this ‘meeting’ with the dietician (and further correspondence from the hospital) is that the advice given by the NHS is outdated and actually quite harmful to someone diagnosed with GD. One example I’ll give is when I mentioned I eat porridge or overnight oats for breakfast, I was told to pair it with a banana… my morning reading after breakfast went through the roof!

Blood sugar monitoring kit with a Bio & Me porridge label

While I mentioned doing the four tests a day, very rarely did I use four needles and it could have been as many as 10 due to error messages appearing on my device – too much blood, not enough blood, taking too long or temperature all having an impact. This left my fingers so bruised, swollen and the tips became hardened. My trust set much stricter margins than the NICE guidelines – 5.2 for fasting and 7.7 for after meals – and I found it such a struggle.

It's no real surprise to know that 90% of the time, my after-meal readings were in range – I didn’t change my diet, I didn’t need to – but I struggled with the fasting ones. I was never given any support or advice with regards to these, and it wasn’t until later that I learned that fasting results weren’t solely down to diet and are largely hormonal – which other factors include lack of sleep, illness, and water intake overnight. I think the fact I have PCOS made it much tougher for me to hit the targets set. I look back now and have to laugh, but within the first week because I had four or five high readings, the diabetes team wanted to put me on metformin – no other reason than “you’ve had too many high readings”.

I tried my best to remain diet controlled but couldn’t – because of the high results being the fasting readings – and eventually I admitted defeat and took the metformin. It was only one tablet a day with dinner to get the fasting levels down – which then became two when I’d hit the tricky 32-week period.

It was around this time that thankfully, I came across GDUK. Without the support from the Facebook group, or all the advice, articles, and recipes on the website, I don’t think I’d have got through the last couple of months of my pregnancy. It was a complete breath of fresh air to know of others in my situation – who had been told similar things, or not had the support they needed – and I found the Facebook group to be completely non-judgemental and just pregnant women looking out for each other.

Salad topped with chicken and croutons on a vibrant red plate.

I signed up to the GDUK website to receive recipes hidden behind a paywall (although there are plenty of free ones available) and I’m still making the dishes to this day – even throughout my pregnancy, the rest of the family were enjoying them and it was so nice to have that support. Through GDUK, I learned all about pairing foods – ensuring that a high fat and high protein diet was consumed. I was able to tolerate so much, simply through drinking plenty of water, getting walks in and always ending a day with a snack… 25g of nuts and a Babybel was my go-to. The advice I received was completely invaluable and I could not recommend signing up to both the website and the group enough.

I continued to be scare-mongered by the hospital – that I’d need to be induced, that I’d need to have a C-section to avoid shoulder dystocia, that my baby would weigh well over 9lbs, that I’d have my blood sugars taken every hour in labour, that my baby would have to pass three blood sugar tests or we’d be in for 72 hours – and none of that was true.

When I went to my 8-week check, I mentioned about having GD and I was told that during my GTT, my first result was fine – the one after having the glucose drink was too high. I also mentioned that I thought I was supposed to be tested again to see if I’d got type 2 and an appointment was then made (good job I chased it up). Luckily, I’ve been for that blood test and am fine. I’m supposedly going to get tested every year now. Nothing has changed, I’m still eating the same, I’m still snacking (much) the same and I’m feeling fine.

My final words of advice are to question everything. If you are not happy, get a second opinion. Take your partner to your appointments (if you can), so they can ask questions or put the pressure on (if needed). Remember you are an individual and not a tick box exercise – because that’s exactly how I felt. And don’t stress – just know it’s not your fault and very common.

Love, Lucy xx

No comments

Post a Comment

Enjoyed this post? Let me know. Leave a comment, or find me on social!
Love, Lucy xx

Professional Blog Designs by pipdig