Gestational Diabetes

This morning Kristen and I went to a 3-hour class to learn about Gestational Diabetes (GD).  Kristen was diagnosed as having GD after two separate tests showed her blood sugar was high.  We learned what GD is, how to test her sugar levels and how to properly eat.

I’m not a doctor, but I’ll try and explain it the way the nurse explained it. I think she did a good job, and it was fairly easy to digest.  GD is not too much different than Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes.  It’s still an imbalance of glucose (sugar) and insulin, but GD is different in that it’s only considered temporary.

With regular Diabetes, there’s an imbalance of the sugar produced by the liver and the insulin created by the pancreas.  When you eat, sugars are produced via carbohydrates that we eat.  Sugar is  ultimately consumed by our cells, and is turned into energy.  But if you eat too much sugar, your pancreas must create an extraordinary amount of insulin to help balance that.  It generally can’t do that, and therefore the sugars have to go somewhere, so they go to fat cells in your body.  With Type 1 Diabetes, your pancreas can’t produce the Beta cells that are part of insulin.  Type 2 is more common, which means your body just has more sugar than you can efficiently handle.  This is why people have to take insulin shots.

When you’re pregnant, you have a lot of hormones that contribute to slower disposal of sugar.  In Kristen’s case, she has three placentas and her pancreas just isn’t producing enough insulin to clear all the sugars that are being left in her body.  I snapped nice visual of the whiteboard that illustrates all this.

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A normal blood glucose level when you wake up is less than 95 milligrams per deciliter.  After you eat, it spikes way high, but an hour later it should be less than 140, and 2 hours later it should be less than 120.  If you eat a lot of carbohydrates, it can spike the glucose levels very high… 200, 400… the nurse has even seen north of 1,000.  So the way to control this is by limiting the carbs we take in, and then measuring four times per day.

Kristen will now start taking her glucose levels by sticking herself with a needle 4 times per day (right after waking up, 1 hour after eating breakfast, 1 hour after eating lunch and 1 hour after eating dinner).  She has to log the readings, along with what she ate, and we’ll visit with a dietician next week to review the results and diet.

The dietician told us Kristen is free to eat as many proteins and fats as she wants, of any kind of food.  However, we need to be laser focused on the carbohydrates she consumes.  She’s allowed to eat up to 30 carbs in the morning, between 45-60 for lunch and between 45-60 for dinner.  She’s also to eat two or three snacks per day, each with 15-30 carbs.

So, for example, she can eat two pieces of bread for breakfast and a plate of eggs.  Each piece of bread has 15 carbs, or 30 for the breakfast.  Eggs don’t have enough carbs to be counted, and neither does the butter I’d use to cook it.  But, with her breakfast she can’t have a glass of milk!  1 cup of milk = 15 carbs.  Instead, she can adjust and have one piece of bread, scrambled eggs and a glass of milk.

The best piece of news Kristen got today was that she can have her Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, though she can only have 1/2 cup.

So, we’re going to give it a go and focus on carbs.  We’ll watch it daily and see what it yields.  We won’t have to do this anymore after the boys are born, but maybe it’s something interesting for us to do going forward with regards to weight management.

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