9 Things I wish I knew about Gestational Diabetes

When I got the call I had gestational diabetes, I felt every emotion. I was scared of the unknown, nervous about having to do finger pricks, sad thinking there was something I could have done differently, mad –why me?, but happy knowing I had great support. 

Nobody wants to have complications during pregnancy, but I hope I can relieve some stress and give you some hope and encouragement. In this post you will find my personal story along with everything I wish I would have known about gestational diabetes.

There is also a free glucose tracker download that really helped me keep track of my daily habits and glucose levels. 

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. 

Glucose Screening Test

Around 27 weeks into pregnancy we are asked to drink a very sweet, syrupy drink to see how our bodies respond to a spike in sugar intake. Most people will pass the screener and continue to move along in their pregnancy without thinking about sugar and carbohydrate consumption. I am not “most people” because I got the dreaded call that I did not pass the screener. 

In fact, I failed miserably. My glucose was186 when under 140 is passing. All of this meant I needed to do a three hour glucose test at the hospital. I knew there were false positives and off days for the one-hour screener, but my gut was telling me I had gestational diabetes. I treated myself to a watermelon milkshake from Cookout about a week prior and I felt terrible afterward. My body felt depleted and I got very nauseous. I did not think about that day again until the word diabetes was thrown at me.

Let me be the first to tell you the three-hour test is not fun, but you can handle it. I kept telling myself I have made it this far and my body has gone through incredible changes.

I can handle a three hour glucose test! 

Glucose Tolerance Test

My experience with the three hour tolerance test started with not eating anything after 11 pm the night before the test. I arrived at the hospital at 7:30 am. The sweet nurse took the first blood draw to check my fasting glucose level. I am not a fan of needles or having my blood drawn, but she did a wonderful job. My glucose level was below 95 mg/dL, so I could proceed with the test. My blood was drawn three more times at 1, 2, and 3 hours after consuming the drink. By the end of the three hours I felt like a pin cushion. I was relieved it was over!

Bring a snack and something to occupy your time!

I brought peanut butter crackers with me because I knew I would be very hungry when it was over. I am so thankful I did! Also, three hours is a long time to sit around. My husband and sister in law stopped by to keep me company.

To pass the screener, my glucose levels had to be

  • below 180 mg/dL at 1 hour
  • below 155 mg/dL at 2 hours
  • below 140 mg/dL at 3 hours

Unfortunately, my levels were above the cut off (it was 206 at one hour!) and I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.  Now what? I had so many questions, but I was not surprised.

This information is only my experience and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult your doctor for personal guidelines.

Managing Gestational Diabetes

With my glucometer, lancets, and test strips in hand, I was ready to start my adventure to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby. The thought of pricking my finger terrified me, but I had relief knowing I was able to monitor my glucose closely to have a healthy pregnancy. 

My doctor wanted me to start out by monitoring my eating habits on my own. If I had trouble controlling my blood sugar by diet and exercise then I could meet with a dietician. I cut out sweets and paid attention to my carbs. I also made a point to walk or do a short activity after dinner. To my surprise, my numbers were mostly normal and relatively low when I stayed focused and diligent. There were still occasions when I experienced a spike in blood sugar – darn General Tso’s chicken! By keeping a food log, I was able to recall the foods that were better and worse for my blood sugar. 

Download a printable glucose tracker!

Don’t let the smile fool you, I was in labor and leaving for the hospital.

I was diagnosed with GD at 28 weeks. I had my son at 39 weeks and 4 days. Those eleven weeks seemed to never end. Some days were very difficult, but we made it through and so can you! I believe this diagnosis was a blessing in disguise. It forced me to make healthier choices and small lifestyle changes. I did not gain as much weight this pregnancy as I did with my previous two and I lost weight quickly after birth. I had the easiest postpartum recovery and I felt better postpartum than I did pre-pregnancy. It opened my eyes to how much food affects our mood and energy. I thought I was eating healthy my whole life, but my definition of  “healthy” has been amended. 

My intent in writing this post is to encourage and empower you to have a healthy pregnancy by controlling your blood sugar. I was emotional and you might be also. You might feel alone and have many questions. I know I spent hours scouring the internet for answers and help. As I sit here and watch my seven week old take a nap, please know it will all be worth it in the end. 

Keep in mind this is my experience and everyone is different. Do not take anything in this post as medical advice. 


My 6lbs 11oz bundle of joy. He was worth it.

1. Don’t blame yourself

The first thoughts that went through my head were what could I have done differently to prevent this? The truth is – NOTHING.

There is nothing I could have done to prevent gestational diabetes.

Do not blame yourself. Use this time to embrace a healthier lifestyle. This is my third pregnancy and the first time I was diagnosed with GD. Every pregnancy is different, but I certainly did not expect GD to be something I would experience. 

As you get further along in your pregnancy, your body will require two to three times the amount of insulin. If your body cannot produce enough insulin or stops using insulin like it should, you will have elevated blood sugar. The primary cause is hormones released by the placenta. Luckily, this issue usually resolves after delivery. 

At my 6 week postpartum check up my doctor checked my A1C levels and I did a glucose tolerance test. Both came back normal and I felt such relief. It is important to keep in mind you have an elevated risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. I am choosing to make healthier lifestyle changes and I want to do everything I can do reduce that risk. 

2. Get up and move

Pregnancy takes a toll on your body and the idea of exercising may not be at the top of your list. Always follow the guidelines set by your healthcare provider, but some light exercise is a good idea during pregnancy and even more so with gestational diabetes. I made sure to walk or clean around my house (non-stop movement) after dinner for about 30 minutes. I would also aim to do a short prenatal workout video twice a week that would incorporate squats, stretches, and yoga. 

My blood sugar was always higher on days when I sat on the couch after dinner. One evening, I ate a grilled chicken salad for dinner and my blood sugar was higher that day than it was on taco Tuesday. The difference between those two days was my level of activity after dinner. I watched a movie after the salad and I went for a walk after tacos. 

Never underestimate the power of walking and what it can do for your body. 

3. Stay hydrated

Sometimes it is difficult to drink enough water each day. We get busy and do not think about it unless we are eating a meal. However, it is more important to drink water with gestational diabetes. Getting enough fluids will help with digestion and to circulate nutrients. 

Staying hydrated will aid in eliminating excess glucose in your body. 

I bought a new water bottle to encourage me. This is the water bottle I got from Amazon and I used it everyday to keep track of my water intake. I love the motivational messages on the bottle! It is the little things for me 🙂

4. Get sleep and lower your stress

Even without a diagnosis of gestational diabetes, lack of sleep and stress are unhealthy. “Make sure you get sleep” is easier said than done while pregnant, but lack of sleep can really affect your blood sugar. I invested in a good pregnancy pillow (sorry, Josh!) and it was a life saver. It took a couple nights to figure out how to get cozy, but I almost didn’t want to part with it after I gave birth. The more sleep you get, the better your body will function and operate. Your body needs rest and it plays a big role in how it handles glucose. I had higher readings on days when I did not sleep well.

As far as stress goes, I am a high school math teacher. The past couple years have been the most stressful since I started my teaching career 10 years ago. Between working, planning for maternity leave, caring for my boys, and pregnancy, I rarely found myself caring for my mental health. When I let my stress build, it would show up big time in my blood sugar. I had to make the choice to let some things go so I could focus on me and relieve stress. I got a few massages, saw a chiropractor, took baths (shout out to Buff City Soap for their awesome bath bombs), and exercised. Please take time to focus on YOU! You and your growing baby deserve it!

5. Everyone is different and what works for someone else may not work for you

During this journey I was taking what everyone said to heart and really tried to apply it to my daily routine. However, I found it was so overwhelming to take everyone\’s advice. I had to experiment on what worked best for ME. 

I was worried about the sugar content in fruit because of something I read on the internet about diabetes. My big pregnancy craving was fruit. As I experimented with different foods, I found fruit did not affect my blood sugar like I thought it would. Do not be afraid to experiment with different food combinations.

6. You still need carbs

I know what ordinarily would have been fine for me to eat may not be good for me now with gestational diabetes. I had a lot to learn about GD and I thought I would have to go very low carb. However, during pregnancy it is still important to incorporate carbohydrates in your diet, but the goal is consistent carbs. 

In eating consistent carbs, your body knows what to expect. If you eat more carbs than normal you might see a spike in your glucose. I made an adjustment to eat smaller meals and incorporate snacks between meals.  I tried to consume between 30–45 carbs in a meal and between 15–30 carbs in a snack. The important thing is to see what works for you and make sure your doctor and/or nutritionist approve.

Check out my go-to snacks for gestational diabetes.

7. There can be complications

Like all conditions, there are risks for complications. I have always heard about the potential for a larger baby if you have gestational diabetes, but I didn’t realize there were other complications that could arise from gestational diabetes. 

Some other complications include:

  • Excessive birth weight for the baby and the need for a c-section delivery 
  • Preterm birth
  • High blood sugar and preeclampsia in the mother
  • Low blood sugar for the baby after birth that could lead to seizures if not treated or controlled
  • Obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life for both mother and baby
  • Stillbirth

Instead of being fearful about these possibilities, I used it as motivation to eat healthier and exercise. There were so many days I did not want to walk after dinner or I had a craving for dessert. I had to keep my baby and health at the front of my mind and use that as a motivator for healthier choices.

The more your glucose is controlled, the better chance you have at reducing the risk for  complications and having a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. If you are concerned about potential complications please reach out to your healthcare provider. 

I was fortunate enough to control my GD with diet and exercise. I had a c-section due to my second son being breech and I really wanted to have a VBAC for this third delivery. Having GD made me worried it wouldn’t happen. I am proud and excited to say I had a successful VBAC and my son weighed 6lbs 11oz. His blood sugar was checked during the first 24 hours prior to eating and it was always normal. The thought of complications during pregnancy and with the baby is scary, but they are certainly not a guarantee. 

8. You might have extra fetal monitoring

Because you have gestational diabetes, you will most likely be classified as having a high risk pregnancy. During the last six weeks of my pregnancy I had to have non-stress fetal monitoring each week for about 30 minutes. This meant I was hooked up to bands around my belly to monitor contractions and the baby’s heart rate. I also had to press a button every time I felt the baby move/kick. They are checking for periods of rising heart rate in the baby as they are active. It is non-stress because nothing is being done to the baby to place stress on him or her. 

There was one time he was sleeping and I had to move around and drink water to get him to wake up. I had to start the whole test over because the first one was inconclusive. At another appointment, he had the hiccups and the monitor picked them up so loud my nurse said she could hear it down the hall. It made me laugh every time someone walked in to check on me. 

If you have to have extra monitoring, it makes for longer appointments. Stay calm and do not stress about the extra monitoring.

9. You are stronger than you think

First, I want to say you are amazing and your body has gone through incredible changes over the past few months. What your body goes through to support this life growing inside of you is beyond imaginable. 

Do not let the diagnosis of gestational diabetes make you feel down or upset. You can handle this for a few weeks. It might not always be pleasant pricking your finger or restraining from eating certain foods, but it is the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby.

You’ve got this, mama! Your little miracle will be here before you know it. 


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *