Being pregnant with your first baby can be worrying and tiring enough, let alone when you find out you have gestational diabetes. Mum to two healthy boys under four, Amy May tells Mamamia about her experience, and the advice she would give to other pregnant women in the same situation.
“I was 34 weeks pregnant when I was told I needed to see an endocrine specialist to discuss my diagnosis of gestational diabetes. I was shocked because the first of the two tests I had, indicated that my blood glucose levels were only a fraction over the limit and I thought they wouldn’t be concerned.”
Amy’s first test was a ‘fasting tolerance test’, often used as standard practice for all low-risk pregnant women. When her results came back slightly higher than the normal range, she was sent for a full oral glucose tolerance test, which revealed she had gestational diabetes. A relatively common but often misunderstood condition, gestational diabetes affects 12-14 per cent of pregnant women in Australia and is the fastest growing type of diabetes in Australia.
“After my appointment with the endocrinologist, I was told to keep a food diary for the week based on what I would normally eat. I was given a glucometer to test my sugar levels and I discovered that while post-meals my sugar levels were OK with the occasional high, my fasting levels were consistently raised. I thought that they would just ask me to tweak my diet and up my exercise, but they put me on insulin straight away,” Amy said.
According to Diabetes Australia, between 10 – 20 per cent of women diagnosed with gestational diabetes will require insulin injections which are safe for mum and baby and will likely stop after you give birth. Amy had some initial reservations.
“At first I felt guilty – had I not been eating well enough? Was I not active enough? I also felt apprehensive about the injections themselves. The more I spoke to my diabetes educator and dietitian, the more I understood and the guilt and fear subsided. I was only interested in looking after my growing baby and staying healthy for him," she said.
Like most women with gestational diabetes, Amy was also encouraged to maintain a healthy diet and stay active.
“I had to stop indulging in the endless chocolate supply at work and I had to give up my nightly ice cream habit, but I made healthy swaps so that I didn’t go hungry and whenever it got hard I would think about my baby to get some perspective.”