Most people have heard of the worldwide diabetes epidemic and many know about the difference between type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disorder, and type 2 diabetes, which is closely tied to lifestyle and eating habits. However, some may not be aware that there is a third type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy, known as gestational diabetes.
I was diagnosed by my OBGYN with gestational diabetes at 28 weeks into my pregnancy. I took the oral glucose tolerance test as a routine prenatal care and was really surprised by the diagnosis since I had no symptoms and was in fairly good shape. Not knowing anything about this condition I feared what this may mean for the health of my baby and myself. I started doing some research and began working with a clinic specializing in diabetes. I quickly learned that some women are predisposed, based on family history, but other women develop the condition during pregnancy because their pancreas can’t keep up with the increased insulin demand; in turn raising their blood glucose level too high resulting in gestational diabetes. Since I didn’t have a family history the later was true in my case.
After learning of the complications that can occur if the diabetes is not carefully managed, I quickly decided to make some lifestyle changes, which included diet and exercise. I was instructed to eat three small meals and two or three snacks daily. It was very important not to skip meals and or snacks, trying to stay on some type of eating schedule. It was crucial to keep the intake of carbohydrates down, increase protein and fat, and drink at least 8 cups of water, all while using a blood sugar monitor, making sure my glucose levels were in check.
Exercise was also very important with keeping my glucose levels balanced. I love to walk so after a meal I would tie up my cross trainers, head outside and up to the neighborhood park resulting in a 20-30 minute walk. But, other times it was simply walking around my backyard or climbing my stairs.
As was the case with me, most women with gestational diabetes don’t remain diabetic after their baby is born. Somewhere between 8-10 weeks after giving birth is about the time one will need to check her insulin levels again, since blood sugar levels should return to normal because the placenta, which is producing the extra hormones that caused insulin resistance, is gone. Keep in mind, there is a slightly higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future. Although, by maintaining an ideal body weight, following a Low-Carb diet, and exercising, post-partum women can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Deciding for the health of my baby and myself to manage my gestational diabetes without the use of drugs, but diet instead, I am living proof that a program using the HEAL protocol will be successful.