(word of warning, much of this post is me venting)
I have gestational diabetes. I have had it for all three of my pregnancies. It is a fact of life for me. However there are many many misconceptions about gd due (I think) in part to all the warnings about Type 2 Diabetes. You often hear that type 2 diabetes is reversable and that there are many things you can do to avoid developing it as well. Gestational Diabetes is NOT the same thing. I have been visiting a birth board for moms due on June like me. Many are getting ready to go through their glucose tolerance test (gtt). I read the posts about getting ready for the test and how to aviod being diagnosed with gd.
Here are the most common misconceptions I have heard:
1. gd is caused by eating a diet high in sugar and carbs
2. eating a gd diet is "eating healthy" and will help you be a healthier person
3. if you eat right when you have gd you will not need medication to control it
4. a gd diet is the same thing as a low carb or no carb diet.
5. fasting before the gtt will prevent you from being diagnosed with gd
6. gd ALWAYS results in big babies
I am sure there are more but these are the ones I come up against most frequently. Here are my responses to the incorrect assumptions:
1. First of all gd is not caused by eating to much sugary foods. Foods high in carbs elevate blood sugar levels but do not cause your body to be unable to produce enough insulin.
2. There is some truth to the fact that if you follow a gd diet it can be healthier. But that is not simply it. A gd diet can still be high in fat if you want it to be. Trust me I gained 50 lbs with Madeline and it didn't all come on before I was diagnosed with gd.
Added to that there is a lot of stress on the diet. You have to eat on a schedule in order to keep you blood sugar levels from dropping. It doesn't necessarily help you be a healthier person. You can eat perfectly healthy wihtout counting carbs at every meal and every snack. I eat fairly healthy when not pregnant. Plus there are a lot of foods with no sugar added, you can eat candy and junk food as a diabetic.
3. It is not a person's fault if their body needs medication to help with gd. I tried everything with pg #1 to diet and exercise control it. But I still ended up need medication. It was not my "fault" and I did nothing wrong to cause the need for medication. For me it was my fasting (overnight) number that I could not control. Many epople try everything they can to control their day numbers but still need insulin because their body simply does not produce enough insulin for them.
4. agd diet is NOT the same thing as a no carb or low carb diet. A no carb or low carb diet is being followed simply to lose weight. As a diabetic you NEED carbs. you cnanot simply cut back or out wihtout regard to how many you take in. Your body and baby still need the carbs, but it is about portion control.
5. Fasting before a gtt will not prevent a failing level if you are in fact gd. If you are not gd sometimes you can get a false reading. But if you are honestly gd no matter what you do your body will not correctly process the dugary drink and your blodd sugar levels will be high.
6. Gd does not always mean a big baby. First of all plenty of women without gd have larger babies. Just becuase a baby is big does not mean the mother had gd or that she didn't control it properly. I had gd and had babies on the bigger side but they were not nearly as big as the babies my sil had and she didn't have gd!
The misconception that I hate the most is that it is caused by something the mother is doing or has done. If you read the risk factors, you will see that some are lifestyle factors. But for MANY of us it is caused because we are pregnant. That is what it is called GESTATIONAL diabetes. One person commented on how much sugar foods I ate with my first pregnancy and how that may have caused my gd, because I gained so much weight so quickly. If that were the sole cause then I would not have developed it with my second pregnancy since I gained a lot less. The fact is that they have some ideas on what causes gestational diabetes, but for some women it is simply the pregnancy that causes it.
There are a lot of misconceptions about gd. Obviously I am not a medical expert. I have had three pregnancies now with gd. And I have two healthy children and another one on the way. So I am just speaking from experience and the reading I have done. If you want to learn more medical information about gestational diabetes you can try the following sites:
American Diabetes Association
I have been trying to find books that someone who has had gd has written but I have been unsuccessful. If I were a writer I would attempt one, but since I am not hopefully someday somone will!