Seeking Advice on Gestational Diabetes

Updated on August 01, 2008
V.O. asks from Redlands, CA
29 answers

My sister is nine months pregnant and just got diagnosed with gestational diabetes. She's worried and scared to have to give herself shots and test herself every day. She's also wondering how much she'll have to change her diet. She's also wondering what caused it. Any advice from those of you who have been through would be great. Thank you very much!

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J.N.

answers from Los Angeles on

Don't worry. I had gestational diabetes too. It is different than diabetes and most women in this situation such as myself do not need to inject or test. Just a simple change in diet was enough for me.

J.

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N.D.

answers from San Diego on

I was diagnosed at 7 months, the shots were the easiest part. My fingers were sore from the testing but with the newer machines I think the testing will be easier. As for diet, that wasn't so bad,I did find that lots of protein helped keep my numbers in line. I did have to cut back on carbs and give up my favorite craving which was a snickers every so often. I was never given a reason as to what caused it, I have 3 children and only had GD with the last one. Walking after meals helped keep my numbers down also.

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L.A.

answers from San Diego on

It is no big deal. The baby will be fine, problems are very rare if she follows the doctors instructions. It will go away after birth and the baby will have no after-effects. :0)

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T.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi!

I had gestational diabetes with my second daughter. I understand the fear of the shots and testing, but the needles are SO tiny that it is no problem at all...you hardly feel anything (getting blood drawn was worse for me). As for diet change, that is dependent on how her blood sugar numbers are. She may not have to change much in her diet. She should be given a specific diet to follow. I was given a 2000 calorie diet which was just a more balanced diet that consisted of 3 meals and 3 snacks. I felt like I was always eating! And then 6 weeks after the baby is born she'll be tested to make sure her numbers are back to normal...which they more than likely will be. Mine were.

As for the cause, unless there is a family history of diabetes, there are several reasons why a woman can develop gestational diabetes...age, number of babies she's carrying, weight, etc. I also found that it had to do with the development of the placenta. For some reason the placenta develops in a way that does not allow your body to process sugar like it should and this leads to gestational diabetes. My favorite website was webmd.com to gather information.

I hope this was helpful. I'm sure your sister will come out of this just fine. I also have several friends who have had gestational diabetes (including one friend who had it with all 4 babies) and we are all fine now. I know it can be scary news and somewhat overwhelming, but just take it one day at a time and it will be fine.

T.

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C.O.

answers from San Diego on

V., I had gestational diabetes before I had my girl. I didn't have to have shots. Mine was controlled by diet alone. Your sister will have to follow a diabetic diet, they really aren't that bad. She won't starve and they have some great recipes. My diabeties ended once I gave birth my suger levels went back to normal. I hope your sister' has the same outcome.
C.

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E.W.

answers from Honolulu on

Hi,

When I was pregnant, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 11 weeks. I went through a gestational diabetes management program which was very helpful in providing me monitoring assistance, nutritional planning, and general diabetes management.

My first piece of advice to let your sister know it's no one's fault that she has gestational diabetes. The important part is now that she knows, she really needs to educate herself on how to manage it - because, luckily, this is something we can, generally, control. My second piece of advice is to talk to her OB (or perinatalogist) ASAP to discuss her concerns especially given that she was diagnosed so late in her pregnancy (I'd even ask what took so long in diagnosing her!!). I know for me, at 9 months my sugar was crazy despite a strict diet, 3 daily insulin shots, and exercise - from what I understand, your body grows more insulin resistant because of the baby's hormones. So I'd want to find out what I would be able to do to help manage the diabetes at this late stage of pregnancy - at the very least, your sister and the baby should be monitored very closely now (like weekly) paying special attention to the baby's size and activity (they're supposed to be doing non-stress tests on the baby). I'd also recommend taking some time to read about diabetes and gestational diabetes so she'll know what kinds of questions to ask her OB. Finally, I'd also just want to reassure her that although this condition is VERY challenging, frustrating, and scary (what is more scary than the insulin needle is the impact uncontrolled diabetes can have on your baby) there are many women, including myself, who have given birth to healthy babies - it's really about informing yourself and trying your best to take care of yourself. You know, every day that I had to watch what I ate (totally craved caramel apples and chocolate cake!!) or had to take my medicine I really just told myself that this is how I'm helping my baby grow healthy and strong...and also how I need to keep myself healthy in order to take care of him. It's corny - but it helped me to stay focused and get over my fear and general frustration. Also, I'd like to say for you as her caring sister, it's a wonderful thing that you're providing her with this kind of support - because it is so important. (My apologies for the length of this response but I totally empathize and sympathize with your sister!)

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C.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

It will go away when the baby is born. I was diagnosed with it at 2 months pregnant and had to do the shots everyday until my son was born.
If her level gets high she needs to drink a glass of water and take a walk. Stay away from carbs.
She only has a little bit of time to worry about it.

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J.W.

answers from Reno on

I was diagnosed about thr 3 month with my 6th child. I did not have to take shots (thank Goodness). I was able to take a new medication on a daily basis. Just one pill a day, & things were fine. Yes, the diet changes a little, but it will be a diet that she can work with. When my diet changed, I talked to a nutritionist who asked me what foods I liked and disliked. She helped me plan my diet around that. It was an easy diet, instead of 3 meals a day, I had 6 small meals a day. Not a big change.

Gestational diabetes can be caused by multiple things. I myself recieved it because I was heavier than what I should have been when I was pregnant. It could be a hormornal balance. Since she recieved it in her nineth month, I would think that it is hormornal.

Tell her to cheer up. Things arent that bad. Yes she will have to test herself 3 times a day, but that is better than having diabetes every day of your life.

I had my 7th child a couple of years later, and had no problems with diabetes.

J.

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K.R.

answers from San Diego on

there is increased risk with age, family history, obesity, etc. but no specific cause of GDM aside from being pregnant. You do not necessarily need shots. Testing 4 times daily is routine along with a very strict diet. Generally, this is temporary (esp at 9mo and why was a test done then anyway??). I ate a high fiber diet, plenty of protein, no sugar except what is naturally in fruit/grains and ate 6 times daily with a combination of foods at every meal. Try fat free sugar free pudding (made with nonfat milk) for treats. Always eat protein with carbs for better glucose maintenance. Talk to a nutritionist for specifics. Try things like hardboiled eggs and hard cheeses, nuts, nut butters for snacks. Look for low carb/low sugar whole grain breads. No white rice, pasta, etc. Look at total carb content of all foods not just sugar grams. Do not eat yogurt or other foods that are "hidden" high carb/sugar sources. Realize it is best for the baby and do what you need to do and the morning after you deliver you should be back to a regular healthy diet without so many restrictions but realize that you now have a 50% chance of diabetes in the future and maintain a healthy weight and diet forever to decrease your risk.

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T.C.

answers from San Luis Obispo on

Hi V.,
I too had GD with my last (4th) child. (I probably had it with my 2nd, but it was never diagnosed----I figure so because he was almost 9 lbs. at birth and I am pretty small---it was the holiday season and I know I ate a lot of cookies. But, they did not standardly test at the time...I was only 21 years old at that time. Well, I was 36 when I had my 4th, so they did the glucose test and I didnt pass....so I had to endure the gross fasting 3 hours glucose test...yucky! Please reassure your sister that she has done nothing wrong to get this problem. It is strictly genetic. Now that she has been diagnosed with this issue, she knows she is a carrier of this gene and that she could get diabetes at some point during her life. But, probably, she will go back to normal once the baby is born...that is what happened to me. My Dr. asked me who in my family had diabetes...I told him no one...well, when my dad came to see my baby when she was a few weeks old, I was telling him about it and he said that he had just been diagnosed with diabetes...at the age of 68 years old...so if she takes good care of herself, she can keep it at bay for a long long time.

I can remember my fear when being told of this issue! It was pretty scary, but it is very very manageable! Things that I found that worked for me and maintaining my glucose levels were....1) eat veggies low in sugars...avoid carrots and peas.2) eat 3 meals a day along with 2 snacks. 3) If I combined protein foods with carbohydrate foods, my body was better able to assimilate the sugars and my glucose levels stayed in check. 4) I found my body could tolerate more milk and other higher carb foods later in the day rather than first thing in the morning. 5) Did you know that they have all kinds of diabetic foods like syrup, chocolates (they have a weird taste at first, but you can get use to it). I just avoided things like that though. Did I cheat a little...yes, like only one bite of brownie...if she doesnt have that kind of restraint, then dont have it around at all. The other thing to think about, your body converts fruit in to sugars (and even some veggies---carrots and peas). If you read labels, foods that include anything that ends in -ose will be converted into sugars in your body (ie lactose, fructose, sucrose, dextrose...etc, etc.) Combining proteins (meat and cheeses along with small servings of rice/potato helps your body assimilate the sugars, rather than just eating the potato all alone, so combine things is a good idea.

Wish your sister the best of luck with her issue..she will figure out what works for her body, then she will be able to relax again...it is super nice that you are helping her...my mom came and helped me because i was pretty stressed out about it. But, for me, it all turned out fine. I even recently had a blood test and I am still doing well and now my baby is 7.5 years old! My GD was managed only through diet...and it was very tolerable. I must say though that they expect you to eat a ton of food! My dietician told me that I needed to eat an entire can of tuna for the proper serving amount! Come on, the whole thing! LOL
Wish her the best of luck for me,
T.

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S.L.

answers from Phoenix on

Gestational Diabetes was a blessing in Disquise. Yes you poke yourself 3 times a day, its no fun, but they monitor your baby so much, which gives you more time to see her. I was upset at first and they said oh your baby is going to be so big because she is taking all the sugar, and you will have to have a c-section...dont listen...my daughter was 6lbs and I had a great delivery. It helped me not gain so much weight in the end. it really wasnt too bad.
I hope this helps.

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B.B.

answers from San Diego on

Hi V., I was gestational diabetic with both my boys, diagnosed in the 1st trimester and the DR's said it was because I was already 20 lbs heavier than what I should have been. I kept it under control with my diet, after seeing the dietician and learning the right amounts of food to eat and spacing my 3 meals and 2 snacks to every 2hrs. I stuck with it and had no problems with either delivery, my sugar levels were always within range. She will have to keep a journal of every thing she intakes and will see the Dr. once a week. As long as she keeps an open mind about trying different foods (if she is a picky eater), keeping herself on her eating schedule - everything should be fine. I'm rather surprised she didn't get diagnosed in her first trimester. Even after I had both boys I kept on my diet and when I went to see my Dr. again I was fine. Then he told me I could go back to my regular ating habits - just to be careful and not over induldge. Also, once you are a gestational diabetic will you be one every time you become pregnant after that. I hope I have shed some light on thid for you and if you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to email me [email protected]____.com. Please check out my Mom-owned business too!

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M.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

The pancreas makes a hormone called insulin. Insulin helps your body properly use and store the sugar from the food you eat. This keeps your blood sugar level in a safe range. When you are pregnant, your body makes other hormones that can make it harder for insulin to work. This is called insulin resistance.
A pregnant woman can get diabetes when her pancreas cannot make enough insulin to keep her blood sugar levels within a safe range.your sister is lucky as she is close to her delivery and need to follow recmmended ADA cal diet/home blood suger testing only for short period,however Women who have had gestational diabetes are more likely than other women to develop type 2 diabetes later on. Once you have type 2 diabetes, you always have it. Your sister may be able to prevent type 2 diabetes if she stays at a healthy weight, eat healthy foods, and exercise.good luck to her.

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N.V.

answers from Las Vegas on

V.,
Please have your sister check out http://www.plus-size-pregnancy.org/gd/gd_index.html

It is a great website with a wealth of information. I found much of it helpful in my first pregnancy, when I first found out I was gestationally diabetic. Actually, in my second, as well. I could go on and give experiences and knowledge I've acquired, but this website basically has it all.
Feel free to ask me more questions.
~N.

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D.F.

answers from Los Angeles on

I too have had gestational diabetes with my second son and i just finished doing the 3 hour test diabetes test because I flunked the first one. I am sure I have it again. Her diet will consist of healthy eating. For me it was oatmeal in the morning, turkey sand and salad for lunch and a chicken with brown rice for dinner. For snacks it was just carrots or some veggies or fruits. She is going to have to cut out fast foods and candy except hard candy. It is really hard to say what causes it because after I had my son it was gone. The shots are something to get use to but my husband was very happy to help.

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P.A.

answers from Los Angeles on

I am not a medical professional, but from experience, I can tell you something about gestational diabetes. She should be able to get her blood sugar down with diet and exercise. Eating a balanced diet, high in protein and low in carbs, and walking everyday should really help. How much she will have to change her diet depends on how she eats now.

It will go away when the baby is born, and it doesn’t mean she will ever have diabetes again. One of the most unwelcome side effect of gestational diabetes is large babies. So she might be prepared for that.

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T.H.

answers from Las Vegas on

V.,
I am sorry to hear your sister was diagnosed with GD. I had it, too. Mine was diagnosed at 28weeks. I was so tired and after I changed a few things in my diet and when I ate, well, I was still tired due to the pregnancy, but much less. I went to http://www.onetouchgold.com/gold/ This site takes just a few minuets to fill out a short profile and then she will have access to menus for a full day, week and even month. She can change a meal if she doesn't like it. The site will give her the recipes and tell her what she needs to buy at the grocery store. It will help her control her diet and possibly NOT have to use insulin. I was able to control mine with diet alone. (Several of my blood sugars were over 120, but still under 140 most of the time. My baby came 2 weeks early and weighed over 8 pounds. It is the extra sugar in her blood from her diet that will make the baby gain alot of weight which may cause him health problems. It is IMPORTANT for her to control it. And because his body will be used to producing extra insulin in an effort to digest the huge amount of sugar he gets, his blood sugar will need to be tested 1hour after birth and as needed thereafter to make sure he is no HYPOglycemic. Frequently a baby's body doesn't know to stop making so much insulin.) She will need to test her sugars 4 times a day and have consistant meal/snack times. I made my husband go on my diet with me. It will be easier for her if her family and friends help her to stay on the good ADA diet. Don't offer her candy, ice cream, or other concentrated sweets. Look on food labels and avoid corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup. I found it challenging to do this, but have continued to use brands that do not have that ingredient. Once she gets used to the diet she can start paying more attention to the carb content in foods and make her own menus with much less thought. If she has questions or needs support from someone who has been there and done that, please have her contact me. The good news is that this does go away shortly after delivery of the baby and the baby makes all the needle sticks worth it.
Good luck,
T.

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J.D.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi V.,
I had GD in my third trimester. People who were a little over weight when they got pregnant or whose families have diabetes in them are more at risk for this condition. I was able to control mine with diet. I had to see an OB instead of a midwife or nurse for my check-ups. The biggest change for me was diet. I was used to drink/eat whole milk, real butter, jelly, white bread, etc. I had to change all of that and fast. It was good for me. I only gained 25 pounds during my pregnancy. I continued the diet and with a 10 month only baby at home, I have lost the baby weight plus 12 pounds. One word of caution. If your sister likes to eat, caution her about "cheating" on the diet. My OB was ready to put me on insulin (shots) because of my ice cream fixes - these were no, no's. I did not know that it needed to be so strict.
A few weeks before my due date, the OB ordered an Ultrasound to estimate how big the baby was. They thought she would be around 10 lbs. They recommended a C-section. My husband and I wanted to try a natural birth. I tried, but she was just not dropping down because she was too big. So, I ended up having an unplanned c-section. My daughter was healthy and 9 lbs, 11 ounces. It really was not that bad, and with the next one, I will plan a c-section (and of course be on a strict diet the whole time).
Good luck to your sister and enjoy the new little one:)
J.

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L.E.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi, V.,

I have probably given myself over a thousand shots in the last few years. I remember my initial attempt. It took me half an hour to get up the nerve to inject myself. The shots sound a lot scarier than they actually are.

After a few weeks of tracking my diet, I usually have a pretty good sense of how many calories, carbohydrates, etc. I'm consuming each day, so life gets easier.

Lynne E

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S.B.

answers from Honolulu on

This is my third time around on the GD track. My father is an insulin dependant diabetic, but I have never had regular type 2 diabetes or had to take insulin. I have always controlled it with diet; it's really not a HUGE deal, but just a little bit of a big one. The extra sugars in your blood stream make for slightly larger babies and the baby has a chance of being hypoglycemic after birth, but it does not always happen. Testing your sugars is just a little tiny prick on your finger; it doesn't hurt at all. And that they discovered it so late in her pregnancy means she won't have to do it for very long. However, after you have your baby, it is important to watch what you eat and get regular exercise and (if you are high risk for regular diabetes, like me since my dad has it) they will ask you to do the glucose drinking test again. Lots of water, lots of veggies, especially those good green leafy kinds, good proteins like poultry and fish. And don't stress out. That isn't good for anybody. Ask the doctor questions if you have them, if you don't understand make them repeat. It sounds easy, but we forget to do that a lot, don't we? congrats and good health.

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M.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

I wish I found out in my ninth month. Just kidding. My boy would have been even bigger. Like everybody says, in most cases it can be controlled by your diet. I cut out any additional sugar. I drank water and milk. I limited myself to proteins and vegetables, and one carb (stay away from the white/refined stuff) per meal and snack.

The benefit was that my son's rate of growth slowed down, and also, my weight stayed the same throughout my whole pregnancy. After I had my son and began to breastfeed for a while, I ended up dropping 30 pounds. I guess that means my regular diet wasn't a very good one.

Since my boy's 3 living parents all have Type 2 diabetes or are borderline Type 2 diabetic, he is considered at risk. Therefore we have only had him on a healthy diet. No juice, sweets, or other junk food, except for very special occasions. Also, since both of my parents are borderline diabetic, I am also at risk. I am trying to keep myself on a healthier diet, and I made sure that I breastfed my boy for the recommended year to lower both of our risks.

I pray your sister and her baby will have great health!
M.

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D.W.

answers from Los Angeles on

I had gestational diabetes with my first pregnancy and not with my second. I was able to control mine with my diet and did not have to give myself shots. She didn't do anything to cause it. It is just a symptom of pregnancy for her. She will just have to cut back on the carbs. That was the hardest part for me since I LOVE pasta and rice and bread. There are tons of non-sugar options out there nowadays- even for ice cream. Mainly she can eat what she wants but has to watch her portions. My favorite snack/sugar fix was reese's peanut butter cups since one only has 8 carbs and for a snack you can have 15 carbs. :) They were very satisfying. She is lucky she is 9 months along because any changes will only need to happen for a month and then it will all go away! I am surprised they took so long to diagnose her- the tests are usually done at 6 months along. Wish her luck for me and reassure her that it is ok.

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A.P.

answers from San Diego on

Let me start by saying that I'm the biggest baby when it comes to needles...too much poking in my younger days. I had Gestational Diabets too and it really wasn't bad at all!! More inconvenient.
The diet was hard because you had to eat all the time to keep levels even-I was stuffed trying to get so much of the recomended amount in.
The "needle" to test isn't really a needle it's a spring loaded pen and you control how deep it goes depending on how course your fingers are.
Now if it will be controlled by medicine or diet depends on her, her horomones,current diet,weight etc. Having GD now opens her up to Diabetes later in life. So here's what you do to control it: walk after each meal for 20 min. 3xa day, drink water,cut out sugar drinks-which wasn't good for baby and you should already be doing. Eat any and all veggies, add to that protein (chicken,eggs,beans),avoid sugar-strait up (cakes, donuts,katchup,juice)carbs are complex sugars so the formula is 15, 30,45grams. under carbs, on all packages, have a grand total;1 slice of bread=15g. The 15,30,45g is the total carbs at each meal. In between each meal, it's also required to have a snack!This is sounding complicated and it's really not-they will teach you and the support is great. To fill my reqirements,I was stuffed,like I said. If you need further help email me and we can talk.

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E.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

I had GD with my last pregnancy and had to give myself shots. Mine could not be controlled by diet alone because my blood sugar would spike sometimes even in the middle of the night. I just gave myself the mind set that I had to take care of this for my baby. Your sister only has a short time to deal with it and it will probably disappear once she gives birth so tell her not to worry about it. If she has a problem giving herself the shot have her see if a family member, friend or neighbor can do it for her. Years ago I had a neighbor with GD ,who couldn't even look at a needle, and she asked if I could give her the shot when needed. It was no problem and cemented a great friendship.
Diet wise: I ate alot of avocados, apple with peanut butter, cottage cheese with pineapple. I love fruit and my doctor said that I needed to have protein with any fruit I had.

Evelyn

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C.F.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi V.,
I am a mother of 2 boys ages 6 and 4. I had a borderline gestational diabetes test and re-tested and was just under the limit. My doctor referred me to a dietition specializing in working with pregnant women. In one visit I got all the tools I needed to manage my eating and I did not develop full blown gestational diabetes. It was a wonderful help. We went through meal planning specific for me and I left with a great hand out to help me plan. Very helpful!
I also had a friend who did develop it but was able to avoid insulin shots with careful diet and exercise. Tell her to go see a dietition and a nurse educator.

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G.W.

answers from San Luis Obispo on

Hi! I had GD and did not have to give myself shots. I don't think having to do shots is common. You just have to adjust your eating and it's not so bad. You limit your carbs and there is a ratio between proteins and carbs/sugars to maintain within a meal. They will give her lots of tools to help her figure out what to eat. You can eat a little bit of stuff like sugar free desserts, etc or a little bit of breads/carbs and fruits, but just a little. She will have to test her blood sugar after every meal and when she first wakes up.

I don't think they know what causes it. Also, I didn't actually get diagnosed with it until the end, so I didn't do the diet until late and my baby was not huge. He was only 7lbs 1oz and he was almost 2 weeks late. So, they will say that GD can cause big babies, but it is not NECESSARILY going to happen.

My most useful things to tell her are:
You can get a protein drink to help with the diet so you don't end up having to say eat a steak just so you can have a sugar free dessert!
The sugar free pudding (in the refrigerated section) helps with that chocolate/dessert craving.
You can have as much Splenda as you want, but there is a limit on Equal.
Hansen's natural diet sodas has Splenda, so do Coffeemate sugar free coffee creamers.
If you're out and need to get fast food, you can get a "protein style" burger from In 'n Out or a "lettuce wrap" burger from Carl's Jr. No fries though!
There are lots of protein bars for a quick "meal" on the go too. My favorite is the Balance bars. By themselves, they are ok on the diet. That was especially useful when I was on the go in the morning and didn't have the time or energy to do a big egg breakfast because you do HAVE to have breakfast.

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H.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

I had GD and was given a special diet by a nutritionist my OB sent me to.The hard part for me was cutting out fruit which is one of my fave foods. I did not have to give myself shots. Does she definately have to do that? Both my sisters had that with all of their kids, and so did I. After my daughter was born it went away as it did with my sisters. One of my sisters now does have diabetes. She takes medication, but no insulin shots. Sounds like your sister will give birth pretty soon, but she can get alot of info online about gestational diabetes diet. It seems like her OB would have given her some info

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E.K.

answers from Los Angeles on

Check out the Brewer Diet-you can find info online. Great nutrition/diet info for those with GD.
Also, try a site called (something like) plussizedpregnancy.com-whether she's plus sized or not, this site is full of GREAT info on GD and other challenges of pregnancy.
Your sister will be fine. I can only imagine that the shots will S-u-c-k, but it's "mama bear" time and she must do the things that help her and her baby.

Best of luck to your sis.
E.

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L.W.

answers from San Diego on

Well, if she's nin months pregnant, she doesn't have much longer to go=) When I was pregnant with my twins last year, I was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I didn't have to give myself shots, but I did have to test my sugar levels four times a day. You get used to pricking yourself, so the difficult part for me was remembering to do it. Her diet will have to change a lot. She'll have to eat smaller proportions, and she'll have to eat snacks throughout the day. Make sure she eats whole wheat bread and noodles! She'll need the carbs, and whole grains are the best way to go. In order to stay on my diet, I pretty much ate the same things everyday. But it was the best thing I could do for my babies. Encourage her to stay on her diet and keep testing herself at the proper times. Think of the baby!! By staying on her diet, she can prevent her child from being born with diabetes. Also being on the diet prevented me from gaining too much weight at the end of my pregnancy. I bounced back a lot quicker from my twin pregnancy than from my singleton pregnancy! Best of luck to her=)

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