I had a good pregnancy. I didn’t suffer from any morning sickness or any odd cravings. I remained active and loved being pregnant.
As my father is diabetic I was tested for diabetes at 28 weeks. I didn’t really think anything of it, I was fit and healthy, walking ever day, watching what I ate.
Turns out I was wrong.
Gestational diabetes occurs when your body cannot make enough insulin to help control your blood sugars.
When I was told I had diabetes I was devastated.
Straight away I thought how I had put my baby at risk. How that treat of an ice-cream or the day I was lazy and vegged out on the sofa had made me hurt my little one.
Perhaps a little over dramatic but that was how I felt.
I cried a lot after being told. I think it was a combination of worry for my baby and also the feeling that I had been healthy during my pregnancy, I hadn’t suddenly started eating a ridiculous amount of food. I made sure I exercised every day. I guess I felt the ‘why me’ syndrome.
So with my new diagnoses I was sent off to the diabetic clinic and whilst I will always support and argue for the NHS this is where it began to fail me.
I was a little stressed when I went. I couldn’t take Hubby with me as it was his first day of his new job and my mum (back up person in all matters) was away.
There is an assumption, at least with the staff I saw, that you get gestational diabetes because you are overweight (I wasn’t and I’m not now), you have an unhealthy diet (again nope) and that you don’t do any exercise (strike three).
I got gestational diabetes because my dad is diabetic. There is nothing I could have done to prevent it. It would have been nice for someone to tell me that.
After being told I had gestational diabetes I did some googling and read the NHS information on the condition (click here for info) and what it meant for my unborn baby and also what it meant for me. It can be summarised as follows:
- baby grows larger than usual which may lead to difficulties during delivery and therefore there is an increased need for inducing labour or having a caesarean section
- there can be too much amniotic fluid which could cause premature labour
- you may suffer from high blood pressure
- you may go into premature labour
- ncreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
From this information I downloaded and read cover to cover the NICE Guidance on treating gestational diabetes. This is the guidance that doctors, midwives etc. have to use.
So with the new bits of information I entered the diabetic clinic with a list of questions. If you find yourself in this position, I strongly recommend that you read the NICE guidance and form a list of questions about anything aren’t clear about. You can see my questions below.
Unfortunately this is where the NHS began to let me down. I was not told anything about the clinic in terms of what would happen, that I would be attending at least three times, that I would have extra ultra sounds (a positive) etc. Additionally the consulting doctor did not like the fact that I had read the guidance and had a list of questions. She was actually quite rude telling me she had other people to see.
If you come up against professionals who seem to be annoyed that you have questions etc. do not let it deter you! In other clinics I had other Doctors and they really liked that I had questions. It actually made them remember me when I went in to have Sidekick! Part of their role is to answer your questions and give you reassurance.
I do appreciate that the NHS is strained beyond belief but it is, in my opinion, part of their job to answer questions when someone has been diagnosed with a potentially serious condition.
The questions I asked were:
- What blood glucose reading are we aiming for? What timeframe to achieve this?
- If lifestyle doesn’t control the glucose level what medication would I be on? What are the risks to the baby?
- If blood sugars have been well maintained throughout the pregnancy, despite the test result, what are the chances of the baby suffering GD complications?
- Is being GD automatically classed as a high risk pregnancy/birth?
- What is meant by an ‘uncomplicated GD pregnancy’ (NICE Guidance pg 11)
- If baby is not showing any signs of distress and foetal growth is within the normal range why induce after 40+6 weeks?
- If the glucose levels have been within the normal range do I still have to have the GD interventions as part of the labour?
- If through regular monitoring everything is coming back as normal why does the birth have to be Consultant led and not Midwife led?
- If Consultant led can I undertake an ‘active birth’ e.g. yoga, hypnobirthing, exercise ball?
- If bloods have been consistently normal why do I have to be monitored hourly through the labour (NICE para 1.4.10)? What causes glucose levels to rise during labour?
- How long does the baby have to be monitored after birth?
- Can any tests be undertaken whilst I’m/Husband is skin/skin?
- If the baby’s blood sugars are fine after a 24hr period and it is feeding fine can we go home?
- Is there long term monitoring required of the baby’s blood sugars?
Whilst they did answer the questions, I felt none the wiser as I basically got one word answers and no discussion.
I left the clinic with one leaflet about how to manage my diet and that it would be likely I would have to take medication.
That warning (??) annoyed me. I was determined not to go onto medication.
Now for some women no matter what changes they do to their diets, increase in exercise will not stop them going onto medication. Sometimes it happens.
But I was determined to do all that I could to not go onto medication and then if I did have to I could honestly say I had done everything I could possibly.
So I entered into my third trimester with a new determination.
Next post on gestational diabetes is going to be about diet.
Did you suffer from gestational diabetes during pregnancy? How did you manage? Did you find you were provided with enough information? I’d really like to hear your thoughts