Posts in Birth
What is Gestational Diabetes and How Will It Effect My Pregnancy?

What is Gestational Diabetes?

In a nutshell, Gestational Diabetes (GD) is a label applied when a pregnant person’s Blood Glucose Levels (BGL) are higher than “normal”. Regardless of your general health or existing risk factors for developing GD, you will likely be asked to take a test around the midway point in your pregnancy (you know the one we’re talking about - the “dreaded” and somewhat controversial orange drink you’ve likely heard about from your friends?) What they are testing for is to see how quickly your body is able to work to bring your blood sugar levels back down to a normal range after shocking your system with a huge sugar bump.

gestational diabetes pregnancy ptbo

What does having GD mean, exactly?

Around the 20th week of pregnancy, your placenta starts releasing hormones that cause some level of insulin resistance in your cells (ie. the insulin naturally produced by your body cannot absorb the excess glucose from your blood as easily because the cells have become resistant to insulin). When this happens, the body starts producing more insulin to capture as much excess glucose as possible, but sometimes the body can’t keep up. When this happens, there is an excess of glucose in your blood and you may be labelled as having Gestational Diabetes. The good news is that this condition is temporary and will typically resolve itself after you give birth to your beautiful baby! However, while you are pregnant, there are some things you should know about the label of Gestational Diabetes and some of the choices you may have to make in the coming months.

How can having high BGL affects me and my baby?

When a pregnant person has high BGL continuously during pregnancy, there is an increased risk of the pregnant person struggling with high blood pressure, developing pre-eclampsia and possibly Type 2 Diabetes or heart disease later on in life. Because your baby is also receiving some of that extra glucose, their body will bump up their level of insulin production to regulate their own BGLs and after birth, when that extra insulin isn’t needed, baby could have some trouble regulating their BGL while glucose and insulin levels balance out. If the high BGLs are not managed well, there is an increased risk of preterm or complicated birth as well.

gestational diabetes and big babies


One of the biggest concerns that people (including health care providers) have when GD comes into the picture of the potential of having a “big baby”. While it is possible that a bigger baby could mean a tricky birth due to shoulder dystocia or a possible cesarean section, it is certainly not a foregone conclusion! Yes, when babies are getting more glucose during gestation they do tend to get a bit chunkier, especially in the upper body, but there is no reason to panic. People give birth to “big” babies (what does “big” even mean?) all the time! If you have high BGLs or have been labelled as having GD, make sure you take some time to read up a bit on this issue because your care provider will almost certainly have concerns and you will want to be an informed participant in an important conversation!

For more information on Gestational Diabetes, “big babies” and inductions check out this great post over at Evidence Based Birth Does Gestational Diabetes Always Mean a Big Baby and Induction?

So, if I am labelled as having Gestational Diabetes, what does that mean for my pregnancy and birth?

For most people, managing Blood Glucose Levels and having a healthy and happy pregnancy is totally achievable with a little extra self-care and good communication with your health care team throughout your pregnancy. Having Gestational Diabetes does not mean you are sick or that you cannot physically have the birth you have envisioned for yourself.

Advocating for evidence based care (as opposed to routine care) will be very important if you are hoping to have a vaginal birth or to avoid an induction because, unfortunately, many care providers feel the risk of a “big baby” outweighs the risks of induction or cesarean birth, even though the evidence does not necessarily support that conclusion.

The reality is that once you have been labelled as having Gestational Diabetes, even if your BGLs are within normal limits after the initial “diagnosis”, you will be faced with limitations on when and where your care providers are comfortable with you giving birth. Giving birth at home is often ruled out as an option (though not always - so if this is a goal make sure to you advocate for yourself) and inductions or planned cesareans become part of the conversations you will be having with your team as they work to reduce documented and perceived risks to you or your baby.

Keep the conversation going with your healthcare providers about what their concerns are and above all, ask for evidence based information to help you decide how you would like to move forward with your birth.

3rd Trim diabetes.png

What can I do to take care of myself and regulate my BGLs?

Depending on how high your BGLs are, you will be able to help regulate your levels through diet, exercise, oral medications or insulin. There is some evidence to suggest that, if medication is needed, managing BGLs with oral medications in place of insulin may reduce the risk of your baby having low-blood sugar after birth (for more see Cochrane review here) . One more thing to add to your list of questions when you talk to your doctor or midwives!

Whether or not medication is required, connecting with a dietitian to help you meal plan in a way that will keep you happy and healthy is a great idea and will take some of the guess work out what can seem like a big life change. If you are reading this blog post and are from the Peterborough, ON like we are, you can check out this great list of Registered Dietitians in our area to get started.

Your body. Your baby. Your birth!

Finding out that you have Gestational Diabetes is probably not the news you were hoping for but it isn’t necessarily bad news. You can have a happy and healthy pregnancy - we promise! Ask questions, work with your healthcare team to get the care that you want, and remember when it comes to birth it is your body and your baby and you are the one calling the shots!













When is the best time to hire my birth doula?

The earlier the better!

If you are thinking of adding a doula to your birth team, you may want to consider starting your search sooner rather than later. Although there is no “too late” when it comes to hiring your doula, you definitely get a fuller experience when you connect in the first half of your pregnancy! The earlier in your pregnancy you hire your doula, the more time you have to:

  • access their resources and expertise

  • find out about one another and how you will click on the birthday

  • practice hands-on comfort measures

  • get connected to professionals, groups, and resources in your community

  • ask your doula questions as they come up along the way

  • have your birth partner connect with your doula and figure out how they are going to work together to support you and each other

birth doula hello baby peterborough

Want to connect with a Hello, Baby! doula?

We offer a free consultation to anyone who would like to come and meet us. Finding a doula that you connect with is important so we like to make some time for you to ask questions and make sure that what we offer is going to be what you need! Don’t be shy - we are always happy to chat. E-mail info@hellobabyptbo.com to set up a consultation and chat with a Hello, Baby! doula.

3 reasons to take your prenatal education class earlier
Top 3 Reasons to Take a Prenatal Class and Why You Should do it Before Your Third Trimester - Doula Tips - Doula Advice - Pregnancy Milestones.jpeg

You’ve decided that prenatal education is a “must have” for you… but when do you sign up?

Taking a prenatal education class is such an important step towards preparing for your birth. A good prenatal education class will help you explore the different options you have when it comes to your birthing space, your care providers, pain medications, and hands-on ways you can stay on top of your contractions. No matter how you are planning on giving birth, there are choices you will have to make along the way and knowledge is power.

25 weeks is the perfect time to take your class.

Because there is so much to learn, you want time on your side. Signing up for a prenatal education class around the midway point of your pregnancy means you will have time to process all the information that is presented to you and figure out what you want to fold into your vision of birth. It is never too late to sign up for class, but earlier is better!

prenatal education peterborough hello baby

3 reasons why taking your prenatal education class earlier is a GREAT idea!

  1. Time to research and plan.

    There are a TON of books, blogs, articles, and videos about birth out there. There are so many, in fact, that it can be hard to know where to start! When you take your prenatal education class around the “half way” mark of your pregnancy not only are you giving yourself time to read and explore, you are giving yourself some direction! Ask your prenatal education teacher for suggestions and dig in!

  2. Time to ask questions.

    If you think about it, you only see your midwives, doctor or OBGYN approximately 15 times throughout your pregnancy (unless any additional scans or checks are needed). Assuming you take your prenatal education class around week 25 that means you may only have 6 or 7 visits left to talk to your care provider, ask them questions, and work together towards a plan that includes your birth goals. The later you take your class, the less time you have to really dig into the details with your team! Trust us, you WILL walk out of class with new information and some really important questions!

  3. Time to practice.

    One of the best things about a good prenatal education class is the opportunity it gives you and a birth partner to learn and practice new skills that will be SO important in keeping you comfortable, calm and confident during your labour. The earlier you take your class, the more time you have to practice what you have learned and you know what they say, practice makes perfect! It has been shown that when you take a prenatal education class that encourages you to take your new skills home and practice them you are significantly more likely to use them during labour and to use fewer medical interventions! Win Win WIn!

rawpixel-574835-unsplash.jpg

Have you registered for a prenatal education class yet?

If you haven’t, now is the time! Whether you can take your class around 25 weeks or not, try to choose a date that is going to leave you with enough time to process all of that info, connect with your care provider to ask questions, and to practice those skills! If you are in the Peterborough area we would love to see you in the Birth + Baby Prep School - the most inclusive, positive, and empowering class in the area!

How does a prenatal education class prepare DAD for birth?

" I wanted to take a class but he wasn't really into it!" 

Taking a prenatal education class is definitely NOT just for moms.  Dads have a lot to learn and typically don't spend as much time during those 40 weeks of pregnancy reading up on cervical changes, contractions, and other birthy stuff. But, if they want to be there for you during labour then getting on the same page is a must! 

So how can a prenatal education class help to prepare Dad to have a positive experience with birth and to be a kick ass birth partner? 

Peterborough prenatal education Hello Baby

Taking a class helps Dads know what to expect.

You will be the one giving birth but the birth of a child is an important experience for Dad, too. It is 100% normal for him to be emotional watching you labour. Watching someone work that hard and dig that deep can be tough when your partner doesn't have a good understanding of how birth works!  This is even more true when Dad is not sure if what you are experiencing is normal or cause for concern. Once you have taken a class, you will both have a solid understanding of the basics of birth and what labour can look and sound like. A good prenatal education class should help to answer your questions and take some of the mystery out of birth.

Taking a class helps Dads learn new skills to help during labour.

If Dad is your main birth partner, he is going to need to know what he can do to help you manage those contractions when they start to get more and more intense!  Some of his regular day to day massage techniques might help but sometimes you will need more targeted touch.  Taking a prenatal education class together means that Dad will have a chance to practice some new skills (usually called comfort measures) with you so he will know where to rub, press and squeeze for maximum pain relief while you labour that baby down! Being able to offer this kind of hands on pain relief really helps Dad step into role as your birth partner. 

Being on the same page means Dad can help you make choices along the way.

 A big part of being a birth partner is understanding birth and the different options and choices you will come upon as labour unfolds. When you take a class together, you are going into birth on the same page. It is not uncommon to hear from a Dad that he felt out of the loop or uncertain about what was going on at different times during birth. A prenatal education class will give Dad the language and tools to be an active part of birth and to feel included.  

Prenatal education is for Dads, too!

If you think you want to take a prenatal ed class but your partner is sitting on the fence, let him know all of the amazing information and skills he could learn by coming to class with you!