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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.

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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 shota!

Elate Cosmetics at Hello, Baby!

Beautiful. Natural. Guilt Free. 

Hello, Baby! is STOKED to carry Elate Cosmetics because we believe that not only is this line of makeup gorgeous and well worth your dollars, but because we believe in the values of the Elate brand. 

Hello Baby Peterborough Elate Cosmetics

Vegan. Toxin Free. Sustainable. Canadian.

Elate Cosmetics are some of the best made in Canada - trust us, we have looked. The quality of the ingredients is obvious as soon as you touch the product. Seriously - next time you are in the hub smell the lipstick. SMELL IT!  It is divine. 

Some of the beautiful ELATE Cosmetics line in the Hello, Baby! shop, downtown Peterborough. From left to right: Elate Essential Mascara, Bamboo Trio Palette, Elate Cream Lipstick, Goddess Glow Bronzer.

Some of the beautiful ELATE Cosmetics line in the Hello, Baby! shop, downtown Peterborough. From left to right: Elate Essential Mascara, Bamboo Trio Palette, Elate Cream Lipstick, Goddess Glow Bronzer.

Part of your ritual.

One of the things we love MOST about Elate is their belief in ritual. We know that as new parents time is limited. Putting on makeup is not high on the list of priorities for a while but, slowly, as you are able to work that part of your self care back into your day being able to use products that are not only beautiful but that are nourishing, healing, and made with positive intentions can become part of a ritual of self care and that is a beautiful thing!

Come in to the shop and play!

Our Elate Cosmetics collection is slowly growing and we want you to come in and explore the products. Play with the colours, touch and smell the eye shadows and blushes, and get to know the product so that you feel as confident as we do in making this part of your life!  

Massage for Pregnancy & Labour

Meet Melanie Wood, RMT

Melanie has been an RMT for 11 years with extensive experience treating prenatal and postpartum clients. She chose massage therapy as a profession because she has a passion for using the positive touch of massage to help others improve their well being and assist in their healing. Melanie knows how important touch can be during pregnancy and labour and is excited to bring this great workshop to the Hello, Baby! Hub for you!

Hello Baby Workshop Massage

Touch is an important tool

It is very common for pregnant people to have back pain, sore hips, and all sorts of other aches and pains. Your body is changing and you are carrying a whole other person around! Massage is a simple way to help make yourself comfortable. Anyone can learn the basics and all you need are two hands!

Massage is also an amazing tool to help bring comfort while you labour. Whether you are giving birth for the first time or looking to try something different with this next birth experience, practicing touch and massage in different positions is a great way for you and your birth partner to learn to work together to make your labour smooth and comfortable. 

Add massage to your tool kit!

This workshop is perfect for anyone looking to learn skills that will help them work through the intensity of labour and birth together with a partner. Whether you are a first time parent or having your second or third baby, touch can play an important role in managing your labour together with your partner.

During the workshop, Melanie will give you tools to:

  • Feel empowered as a team to cope with the physical changes of pregnancy and birth

  • Confidently know how and when to perform massage

  • Decide which positions may be more helpful at different times and easily accommodate the use of massage

  • Manage the different stages of pregnancy and labour naturally with massage techniques

  • Increase your sense of connection, support, and relaxation as a birth team

Go team!

Register for this great workshop happening Wednesday June 20th from 7-9pm at the Hello, Baby! hub, downtown Peterborough. The workshop fee includes a spot for you and a partner!

Holding space for loss

Doulas and loss

As doulas we are passionate about supporting people through pregnancy, birth, and the weeks and months of postpartum transition and healing that follow. We work hard to make sure that we are always learning and building our skills to offer the best support possible - to be whatever you need.

Doulas can support you through a loss or a pregnancy after loss with sensitivity and consistent support. 

Doulas can support you through a loss or a pregnancy after loss with sensitivity and consistent support. 

The further into this work we go, the more we are learning that supporting our clients through a loss will continue to be a significant part of our work.  Whether it is the loss of a pregnancy in the early weeks, a stillbirth, or the death of a baby postpartum - loss affects many families in our community in so many ways. As doulas, it is our responsibility to support our clients through these losses in whatever way is needed. There are so many ways for us to do this, but most important is our ability to hold space for our clients as they grapple with loss and to acknowledge their experience and the life lost. 

Holding space

Holding space sounds very vague out of context but it can be one of a doula's most important skills both in birth and while supporting a family through loss. Holding space can be especially important while someone is working through the complicated process of grieving and healing after a loss. As a doula, holding space can include anything from sitting, listening, and bearing witness to consoling, reflecting, and helping to celebrate or mourn the life lost. Most of all, holding space means being there - observing and responding because, as with birth, loss is experienced differently by everyone. 

From holding space to holding hands, a doula can be with you as you work your way through grief and loss. 

From holding space to holding hands, a doula can be with you as you work your way through grief and loss. 

Acknowledging the life lost

Time and again, we hear parents who have lost explain how isolating the experience has been for them. People are afraid to talk with them about it expect in expressions of condolences or pitty. The more we learn about working with people and families moving through loss, the more we are seeing the deep importance of acknowledging the life lost. When a pregnancy ends or a baby dies, it is not only that one life that ends. Of course, parents and siblings continue on but the life they expected - the new family they had prepared themselves for - is also gone.  After the initial loss has passed, engaging with parents on their own terms to help remember that little life is something that everyone ought to be able to do, and is something that as doulas, we strive to support. 

PAIL Advocate Training

What has brought on this sudden bought of reflection on our work as doulas?  For those of you who follow along with us on Facebook and Instagram, you may know that Jenn has started taking a course to help the Hello, Baby! team better support our clients through loss and grief when we find ourselves there with them. Being able to communicate well, help our clients understand what may be happening to their bodies and babies, and to support them as they move through grief is something we believe is so important to our work.  If you have been affected by the loss of a pregnancy or baby, we want you to know you are not alone - we are always here to listen and help lift you up however we are able.