Posts in pregnancy
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!

 
Breathing for Birth: Pranayama Series with Mindful Mama's Family Wellness

Take a deep breath.

Discover the therapeutic benefits of pranayama during conception, pregnancy and postpartum!

During this six week session, Bonnie Carl will guide you through simple techniques using conscious breathing from a comfortable, seated position!  Pranayama - the practice of mindful and purposeful breathing - is perfect for everyone regardless of fitness level or experience with yoga.  The techniques Bonnie will teach you will bring your awareness to the present, increase the depth of your breathe and prepare you mentally and physically for pregnancy, labour and birth.

Bonnie Carl of Mindful Mama's Family Wellness will be leading this beautiful six week session focusing on the power of breath. 

Bonnie Carl of Mindful Mama's Family Wellness will be leading this beautiful six week session focusing on the power of breath. 

What are the benefits of pranayama?

Pranayama (breath/energy control)  will help you to:

  • reduce anxiety, depression & fear
  • increase energy, memory & focus
  • induce a state of calm & relaxation that can be carried with you for hours after each practice
  • promote deeper sleep, balanced hormones and improved mood

Manage your contractions with calm and control. 

Pranayama - mindful and purposeful breath work - is a wonderful tool for preparing your mind an body for labour and birth. Breathing exercises during labour help you to move through contractions with calm and control. They also help to make sure that you and baby are getting the oxygen you need for the hard work you will be doing!  Breathing well during labour focuses the mind, helps to alleviate pain and tension, and is something you can do on your own or with a birth partner. 

Prepare for a positive birth.

The Pranayama series will run every Wednesday for six weeks from 12:15 to 12:45 pm downtown at the Hello, Baby! hub.  Join  Bonnie in the bright and cozy Wellness Studio to learn these simple and effective techniques. Space is limited so register now!

Stephanie Reynolds is bringing pelvic floor fitness to Hello, Baby!

Expecting? Recently Postpartum? Had your baby years ago?

Stephanie is a Peterborough, Ontario yoga instructor who specializes in pre and postnatal yoga and fitness. She is passionate about pelvic floor health and has worked with hundreds of women to help them better understand and take control to improve their own core and pelvic floor dysfunction.  Her classes and workshops provide a unique and safe environment to learn, strengthen, and grow. 

Stephanie Reynolds is a busy mom who enjoys running, climbing, adventures and fresh air in addition to teaching her amazing pre and postnatal yoga and fitness classes. 

Stephanie Reynolds is a busy mom who enjoys running, climbing, adventures and fresh air in addition to teaching her amazing pre and postnatal yoga and fitness classes. 

Pelvic Floor Fitness Workshop

Hello, Baby! is excited to announce that Stephanie will be bringing her Pelvic Floor Fitness workshop to our downtown studio this spring!  You can join Core Exercise Specialist Stephanie Reynolds for a 2-hour, interactive workshop on March 22nd 2018 from 945am to 1145am.  

What will you learn?

  • How to prevent and correct disorders like incontinence, prolapse, low back pain, pelvic pain, and diastasis recti (ab separation) through safe exercise;
  • If Kegels are right for you, and how to actually do them;
  • Lifestyle changes, posture adjustments and gentle exercises to rehab your core and pelvic floor muscles.
For more information about the Pelvic Floor Fitness Workshop:  click here .

For more information about the Pelvic Floor Fitness Workshop: click here.

Space is limited!

This date is limited to six participants which means this workshop will be smaller, more intimate, and allow for some additional one-on-one time for you with Stephanie.  It also means that this workshop is going to fill up fast!  For a little extra fun, there will be tea & (healthy) treats for everyone while you learn. Yum!

Hope to see you there!

Jenn & Steph

 

What's the deal with Braxton Hicks?

What are braxton hicks contractions?

Braxton Hicks contractions are sometimes called “pre-labour contractions” or "practice contractions" and are simply the muscles of your uterus contracting. The key difference between "true" birth contractions and Braxton Hicks contractions is that Braxton Hicks don't get longer, stronger, or closer together. 

Is this labour or Braxton Hicks?

Peterborough doula braxton hicks

What you are feeling is likely Braxton Hicks and NOT labour if: 

  • The contractions are uncomfortable, but not intense or painful
  • There is no clear pattern (ie. they are coming at different intervals)
  • They are not getting closer together
  • They are not getting consistently stronger
  • If you drink water, rest, and breathe they simply fade away
[Braxton Hicks] are named for the English doctor who first described them in 1872. After Dr. John Braxton Hicks noted that many of his patients felt contractions but were not actually in labor, he studied the phenomenon to help clear up the confusion.
— Shivani Patel, M.D.

What causes Braxton Hicks contractions?

Two of the most common causes for Braxton Hicks contractions seem to be dehydration and having sex or generally overexerting yourself. Sound familiar?  Probably!

Dehydration.

Drinking lots of water during pregnancy is important. You have close to doubled your blood volume and you are also creating and maintaining that beautiful uterine water world full of amniotic fluid, after all! When a pregnant person gets dehydrated - even mildly - it can throw the chemical balance of their body off kilter and their uterus can interpret this as a signal to start contracting.  Hot days, working too hard, exercising too vigorously, and even just the regular hustle and bustle of daily life can mean that you are not getting enough water!  Drink up, friends.

If you are having trouble drinking enough water, try adding fruit into the mix!  Keep it fun.

If you are having trouble drinking enough water, try adding fruit into the mix!  Keep it fun.

Sexy Time.

Sex can be amazing during pregnancy because of the extra sensitivity in your breasts, vulva, and vagina. Yay!  A potential downside is that it is very common to experience Braxton Hicks contractions after sex (this includes any kind of sex, penetrative or otherwise) for a couple of reasons.  Orgasms release oxytocin and semen (if your partner happens to have some!) has something called "prostaglandins" both of which can cause your uterus to contract.  If you find that sex is making you crampy afterwards, drink some water and rest to allow things to settle back down afterwards. 

What do Braxton Hicks contractions do?!

The long and short of it is... not much other than annoy you. Most commonly it is thought that Braxton Hicks contractions are your body's way of toning and strengthening the uterus throughout pregnancy.  They are not associated with any significant cervical changes except maybe at the very end of your pregnancy when they tend to get longer and stronger as your body prepares for labour.  In a nutshell, they are just "one of those things" when you are a pregnant person.  Boo!

Can you stop Braxton Hicks?

Luckily, there are some simple things you can do to try and keep those pesky Braxton Hicks contractions under control.

Drink up!  Water is your BFF during pregnancy. You should be downing around 2L of water each day.  Get creative!  Herbal teas, lemon water, soup broths, and even home made low-sugar popsicles can all help to get you to the 2L a day goal!

Curl up and read a book, watch a movie, take a nap, or enjoy some snuggles with your favourite people or pets. Rest is so important for your pregnant body!

Curl up and read a book, watch a movie, take a nap, or enjoy some snuggles with your favourite people or pets. Rest is so important for your pregnant body!

Make time for R&R.  Rest. Sleep. Snooze. Put those puffy pregnant feet up!  Your body is creating an entire tiny human - it is exhausting and you need to make yourself a priority. 

Stay active!  Yes - we just told you to rest, but it is all about balance, right?  Staying active by choosing gentle activities helps your muscles stay toned and your circulation stay strong.  Swimming, walking, or maybe some prenatal yoga would all be great choices for someone who is trying to avoid bringing on a bout of Braxton Hicks. 

When should you call your doctor or midwife?

Braxton Hicks contractions are usually just a nuisance but it is important to pay attention to what your body is telling you.  If you are having a bout of Braxton Hicks and you notice the following, reach out to your doctor or midwife. 

  • the contractions are becoming stronger
  • a consistent contraction pattern shaping up 
  • any leaking fluids or spotting

So just remember....

Braxton Hicks can be a normal part of your pregnancy and are usually just "one of those things". Take good care of yourself, listen to your body, and keep your health care providers updated and you will be able to keep those pesky "practice" contractions in line!