How I Defeated Gestational Diabetes and Had A Natural Birth

How I Defeated Gestational Diabetes And Had A Natural Birth

If you’ve been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, you know how much that changes your pregnancy. But that doesn’t always mean you have to give up on your dream of a natural birth experience, either! I’m going to share with you how I defeated Gestational Diabetes and had a natural birth.

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How I Defeated Gestational Diabetes And Had A Natural Birth

If you’ve clicked around Mama Fearless for any length of time, you probably know about my natural birth experience. You know I support natural birth by whatever parameters the mama sets. I also support any type of birth, as long as it’s the mama’s choice and she’s confident, educated, and fearless about it.

What you may not know is that I was also diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes at 28 weeks pregnant.

I had already been dealing with debilitating back pain, starting at 12 weeks, and it was worsening. I made up my mind that I wanted a natural hospital birth experience, and I designed plan on how I was going to achieve it.

Back pain threw a wrench into my plans but GD–that was a devastating blow.

What Is Gestational Diabetes?

To break it down, here are some things to know about GD (don’t get nervous–there’s a lot more to it all):

  • GD is basically your body’s inability to break sugars down properly
  • When uncontrolled, GD can affect the placenta and your baby’s oxygen levels and reception of nutrients
  • GD can cause a toxic environment for baby, increasing the risk of birth complications and even stillbirth

What does this mean for your pregnancy, exactly?

  • GD changes the status of your pregnancy and how doctors view you
  • If you establish with an OB they’ll require you to monitor your blood glucose daily
  • GD often is a disqualifying factor for midwifery services
  • GD will almost always require medication
  • You will, beyond a doubt, be monitored closely by your OB and you will be required to have NST (Non-Stress Test) monitoring for baby
  • Most OB’s will recommend induction at 36-38 weeks depending on the status of your health and the stability of your blood glucose levels
  • A GD dignosis increases the risk of having a C-section

Took Control

When I got the call that I had failed my glucose tolerance test (twice), I fought off a wave of tearful frustration. The statement, “You are now a Gestational Diabetic,” was like a gavel coming down in a courtroom.

I was going to wear this label for the rest of my pregnancy.

My doctor referred me to a dietitian’s office where I would learn all of the things I needed to eat and how to monitor my blood sugars after each meal and snack.

I’ll stop here and say that I challenged the expectations on how I should manage my GD diagnosis.

First of all, I was skeptical of the accuracy of a test that requires pregnant women to fast (which throws her sugars out of whack to begin with), and then drink a sugar-saturated drink and be expected to function properly. Why not just measure our blood sugars after eating, like I ended up doing anyway?

Didn’t Wear the Label

I resolved that I would not wear the label “Gestational Diabetic” when it came to how I viewed myself.

That doesn’t mean that I went crazy with my diet and ate whatever I wanted. It means that I didn’t succumb to the weighty meaning of having GD and all that it would bring.

The dietitian gave me instructions on how and what to eat to manage my blood glucose. Her instructions went out the window when I started packing on the pounds and feeling horrible after all the extra food I was forcing myself to eat.

This is where I disagree with mainstream healthcare. Women are not “one-size-fits-all”. The diet I was given was for someone who was built to handle a whole lot more food than I could.

The diet went into the trash.

Furthermore, I also decided that I was not going to be open to taking any and all medications until I knew exactly what they were, how they were used, and that there was no better alternative.

Remained A Compliant Patient, with Balance

Importantly, I did not challenge my doctor’s abilities. My OB was wonderful. She was kind, knowledgeable and willing to educate me and answer all of my questions.

She supported natural birth but viewed it with balance and weighed it against hard facts (which is exactly what you can expect from a doctor). Her priority was my baby and my body, and she stuck to her training and research to provide that care.

I may disagree with the glucose tolerance test, and I may disagree with how the label “Gestational Diabetic” is given and there is no other option afterward. But I chose an OB over a midwife, and I had to respect that.

Monitoring my glucose daily became routine as well as recording everything I ate and drank in a food journal, even though I did own thing with my diet.

Having learned that protein helps your body break down sugars, I applied that to my daily diet habits and learned the best time of day to eat certain foods, (combine a cheese stick with fruit, things like that).

Stayed Active

Swimming became and everyday routine. I mentioned this in other posts, but it’s important to mention here because that was my sole source of decent exercise the last 10 weeks of my pregnancy.

I’m a horrible swimmer. When I say I got in the pool to exercise, the truth is that I waddled in, soaked up the water and sun, and then did my own version of water aerobics (basically I flopped and splashed my arms and legs around like I knew what I was doing).

I’d doggy paddle from one end of the pool to the other and repeat until I felt tired. After that, I’d lie on my floating raft, feeling smug.

Still Lived

I ate ice cream every once in a while, had a bowl of Capt’n Krunch here and there, I drank whole milk, even had some chocolate every once in a great while.

My blood glucose numbers remained perfect throughout my pregnancy. I never took a single pill for GD, and while I was monitored, I never had any medical interventions.

During the entire last month of pregnancy I was required to have NST’s. I usually laid there an extra 45 minutes past the usual test time due to my baby being very mellow.

Because of the GD diagnosis, they didn’t just let me go home when something seemed even slightly abnormal. They didn’t buy it when I gently explained that my son was a mellow baby and he kicked when he chose to kick, which was hardly at all during the NST’s.

Baby remained healthy throughout my pregnancy. Toward the end, the dietitian and I spent the appointment looking at each other, shrugging.

My diet threw her–I wasn’t eating exactly what she wanted me to eat. Her eyes bulged when she saw the bowl of Capt’n Krunch on my food journal. But my postprandial (after eating) blood glucose was always perfect. What could she say?

She actually ended up cancelling my last few appointments and told me to call and schedule if I ever felt I needed her services.

Planned My Labor

I knew that my labor and delivery would be viewed differently and I was definitely going to be hooked up to monitors if I went to the hospital early. While I don’t necessarily mind the monitors, I didn’t want to be there for hours that way.

So I planned to labor mostly at home.

You can read about that in my post about the secret to natural birth planning.

My OB informed me at one of my last appointments that she wanted to schedule me for induction at 37 weeks. Since baby was considered full-term at this point, she felt it was the lowest-risk option.

I asked her if there was any way I could push my induction out by at least another week. My sugars were perfect, after all. She reviewed my chart and acquiesced, but only on the condition I went in twice a week for check-ups.

As it turned out, I went into labor at home at 38 1/2 weeks. I stuck to my labor plan, labored at home, and gave birth 16 minutes after checking in at the hospital. No Pitocin, Epidural, or monitors strapped on.

How I Defeated Gestational Diabetes And Had A Natural Birth

You Have Control

I am not here to declare that if you’ve been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes you can do your own thing and everything will be fine.

What I am saying is that you don’t have to take it lying down.

You can fight back, take responsibility, and work toward your original goals.

Being sedentary will only work against you if you have a GD diagnosis. If your desire is to have a natural birth, you’re going to need to take the bull by the horns.

You’re going to have to do something about it. And you can. You’re strong enough, capable enough, and instinctive enough.

I made it a physical goal and a matter of prayer. I did everything I could do to live a normal, pregnant life and take care of myself (even with an ice cream every once in a while). If I ended up having to take medication or had to be induced, I could at least say I gave it my best shot.

That mentality is what got me through the challenges, along with God’s help. Despite the curve balls and disappointments, I still achieved the birth experience I wanted. And, most importantly, I was able to hold my beautiful son in my arms at the end of it all.

That’s How I Defeated Gestational Diabetes and Had A Natural Birth.

So What Can YOU Do?

Sure, this is my story, but when it comes to your GD diagnosis you’ve got options!

First, don’t you dare give up! Your natural birth story isn’t over!

Here’s a list of some ways you can try your best to stay off the meds and keep those sugar levels healthy!

  • Severely limit sugary foods and snacks
  • Cut out candies and chocolates (it ain’t worth the spike, Sis)
  • Eat protein, protein, protein!
  • Start your day off with more protein and less carbs and sugars (boiled eggs and avocado vs. fruit and cereal)
  • Pair fruits or carbs with protein (ie eat a cheese stick with an apple)
  • Eat consistently throughout the day (graze)
  • Exercise! The more moving, the better your body can work on those sugar levels. Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise during pregnancy (and it feels great)
  • Monitor your sugars to watch for triggers. Some foods will cause a spike and monitoring your sugars consistently will help you avoid them
  • Try and get quality sleep (trust me and use a pregnancy pillow). Exhaustion effects your sugars (yes, I’m serious)
  • Drink a lot of water and avoid sugary drinks
  • If you crave juice or just need flavor, dilute it with carbonated water (1/4 juice to 3/4 fizzy water. Pop a straw in that glass and enjoy)
  • Watch yourself more closely as your pregnancy progresses. The further along you get the harder your body has to work to regulate your blood glucose
  • Stay positive! Be a fighter and take control. You can do something!

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How I Defeated Gestational Diabetes And Had A Natural Birth

Disclaimer: I am in no way a doctor or licensed medical professional. I support doctors and respect them in their roles. Please do not view this post as medical advice, and consult with your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns regarding your health.

2 Comments

  • Lara

    I stumbled upon this in my Pinterest feed and wish I had seems more post like this sooner. My story is similar. When I first got pregnant I wanted to use a birth center, no drugs and have a perfect pregnancy (is that really a thing!?). I went with an OB because I needed to confirm and was getting really close to the 8 week mark, was speaking with a birth center around the time it was determined it wasn’t going to really be possible. Weeks 7 to 16/17 the morning (all day) sickness was rough and consisted of mainly carbs and not much else. At 12 weeks my sugar was already in question. I took and failed the 1 hour glucose test shortly after which prompted the 3 hour test which I of course failed leaflet to GD diagnoses at 16 weeks. I was devastated to put it lightly and I have a fear of needles (testing 4x a day wasn’t as bad as I thought). I attended one class on GD and required to monitor glucose levels after meals and write down what I ate. The recommended diet would have packed on the pounds and landed me on insulin if I had followed the class instructions. Low carb/keto is basically what kept everything in check, I maintained perfect glucose levels by diet alone right up to delivery despite being told that diet control may not be possible later in pregnancy. I knew induction was a possibility at 20 weeks but had never really been discussed fully or scheduled. At the 38 week appt doc I had never seen and wasn’t scheduled to see decided she wanted to induce ASAP going into week 39. Now she did not want to take into account that my glucose and blood pressure were perfect. I did get my doc to allow me to go the extra week because I wanted a natural birth. My due date was Christmas and I got scheduled for induction the evening of the 23rd unfortunately I didn’t go into labor myself although I may have if I had gotten the chance. I never got to pitocin thankfully since the pills to soften the cervix worked (we’re actually too effective and had to have labor slowed down) my baby was born in two pushes almost exactly 12 hours into the induction. After my water broke I wasn’t checked until my husband got the nurse because I was complaining and he didn’t know what I was talking about. Later on I found out that the actual term is fetal expulsion reflex. I had to push but because they said it’s normally 24 hours from induction to delivery I didn’t know what was going on so I was definitely pushing on my own before the doc came to deliver. In all that it possible to stay off insulin, not have any drugs and have a good delivery.

    • mamafearlessinspiration

      Thank you for sharing your birth story! I love how you took responsibility into your own hands and worked toward the birth you wanted to have. Even though it may not have been 100% how you expected it to be (but what birth ever is?) you still got great results because of your hard work! Great job, Mama! Thank you, again!

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