Gestational Diabetes is scary. It doesn’t matter how you eat or what your lifestyle is like, if you get Gestational Diabetes during pregnancy it hits you hard. You wonder what you’ve done wrong, what you could do differently, and often wonder, why me? However, it isn’t your fault. A lot of people think of diabetes and automatically think the person diagnosed is a pig who eats all junk food without any regard for their body or health, but I’m here to tell you – this is false.
Gestational diabetes is a condition in which a woman without diabetes develops high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes generally results in few symptoms; however, it does increase the risk of pre-eclampsia, depression, and requiring a Caesarean section.
What causes Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes occurs when your body can’t make the extra insulin needed during pregnancy. Insulin, a hormone made in your pancreas, helps your body use glucose for energy and helps control your blood glucose levels.
During pregnancy, your body makes special hormones and goes through other changes, such as weight gain. Because of these changes, your body’s cells don’t use insulin well, a condition called insulin resistance. All pregnant women have some insulin resistance during late pregnancy. Most pregnant women can produce enough insulin to overcome insulin resistance, but some cannot. These women develop gestational diabetes.
How is Gestational Diabtetes Diagnosed?
Usually around weeks 26-28 your OB, doctor, or midwife will send you for a glucose tolerance test (GTT). At this appointment, you will have your blood drawn, then drink a highly sugary drink, wait an hour, and have your blood drawn again. The numbers that come back from this test will tell if you have gestational diabtetes or not. Most doctors will send you for a 2 or 3 hours GTT test to double-check, and from there you will then be sent to a diabtetes clinic or endocrinologist who will follow along with you for the rest of your pregnancy and monitor how your numbers are for the remainder.
How is Gestational Diabtetes Treated?
I’m in Canada and have only experience with myself so I can tell you what I’ve been told by my endo, and what I’ve done to treat my Gestational Diabetes. It may be different where you live.
I have always been diet controlled, meaning, I haven’t taken any medicine such as insulin or metformin for my condition. Instead, I’ve changed my diet, test myself 1-hour post every meal, and have been able to keep my numbers in range this way. Cutting carbs, upping protein, and getting enough exercise is how one would accomplish this.
Other options are medication. Insulin and metformin are two of the most common I’ve heard of, but I have no experience in these medicines.
How do you test at home?
If you search glucose monitors on the internet you will see a ton of offers from different makers of glucose monitors that will send you a free machine, or you can print out a voucher and take it to your local pharmacy and get a free monitor (usually with the purchase of test strips)
However, how do you know which one to choose? There are a lot. I did a lot of research and ended up using the same monitor I got from my Endo for my last two pregnancies and even started this one out using a newer version of it as well. I was comfortable with it, I loved the app and thought it was pretty accurate.
I decided to ask in a few gestational diabetes groups on Facebook which monitor others were using and if they liked it. The responses were interesting. Most were using the same machine, others used the one I was using, but a few had complaints about it. I decided I would get a couple of other monitors and see which one I liked best, and I took recommendations.
The #1 monitor recommended in the groups was the Contour Next One. I did a ton of research on this machine to see what was so great about it and found out it’s the closest to the lab you can get at home for accuracy. This was huge for me. The other monitor I had been using, The One Touch Verio Flex, numbers didn’t always seem to match what I had eaten. I did a few tests and sure enough, the Contour showed a slightly higher result than the Verio Flex. Not more than 4-5 points but still enough for me to want to switch because I want the most accurate results possible.
I had my last 2 babies go to the NICU so my concern has always been what if my blood is actually a bit higher than what I’m reading, and not knowing causing my babies to be born with low blood sugar. So, this was a huge reason for me to switch.
I did get a third machine to test with – the Aucc-Chek Guide. I tested my blood with all 3 for two days and noticed using this always brought much higher results. I once tested and got a 3.8 when the others showed 4.5 and 4.7 which is a big difference when trying to make sure you are getting an accurate reading for your doctors. Sometimes they’d be really close (like the photo pictured below) but others it was just too far off for me to trust.
I’ve chosen to now go with the Contour Next One. I’m very happy with my decision and I do sometimes re-check on my Verio Flex to see the difference, and I’m confident with my decision.
How do you pick the right glucose monitor?
If you talk to others with gestational diabetes you’ll find various opinions on different monitors. So, my advice after doing this 4x now is to simply try as many as you can, and have your lab check to make sure you are getting a close reading with the one you decide to go with. To try the three I have you can check out these links below:
There are many others on the market, and if you do a quick search you will find them for free (you shouldn’t ever pay for your monitors, just the lancets and strips to go with it!)
I’d also discuss with your endo or doctor following your gestational diabetes journey which monitors they suggest. Sometimes, they will give you one that they prefer you use, but mine is different than the first one I went to in Toronto, and they allowed me to bring my own.
Do your own research. Take into consideration how badly you are struggling (if you are) and read up on what monitors are reported as being the best, check out reviews from other users, and go from there. I find a lot of information on the internet is to sway you to go with a specific company from paid blogs, but if you find real reviews and real, honest opinions from real users it shouldn’t be too difficult to pick the right monitor for you!
If you are looking for insights, a community with like issues, check out these two amazing Gestational Diabetes Facebook groups!
- Gestational Diabetes Canada (Canada only)
- Gestational Diabetes Support Group (Canada, USA, and all over)
I’d love to hear from you if you have any questions, concerns, or anything to add here – please email me!