I Was Wrongly Diagnosed With Gestational Diabetes
Updated: Oct 21, 2020
Once I knew I wanted to get pregnant naturally, I dove deep into learning about all things women's health, fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum. Once I discovered that the glucola drink is loaded with harmful ingredients like chemical food dyes and additives, modified food starch that can contain gluten, brominated vegetable oil which is actually banned in Europe, and dextrose which comes from GMO corn/one of the heaviest sprayed crops ... I knew before I was even pregnant that I was not going to drink this junk and I didn't care what my provider had to say about it. I don't ingest these chemicals when I'm not pregnant so I simply can't imagine ingesting them when my body is the home for my unborn child. I hope it goes without saying that you are NOT a bad Mama if you did drink the glucola drink. Maybe you didn't have this information during your first pregnancy or any of your pregnancies. That's ok! Maybe you didn't realize there were other less toxic options. That's also ok! I'm simply here to raise awareness by sharing my personal experience in hopes future Moms ask more questions and spark change for all of us.
Before I share my personal journey with gestational diabetes, I think it's important to acknowledge that gestational diabetes is a very real thing. It can be harmful to both the mother and the baby and is really not something to take lightly. It's also important to note that there is true gestational diabetes that is caused by the hormones from the placenta and truly develops during pregnancy. That being said, there are Mothers who actually had diabetes prior to pregnancy but was not aware of it due to not having routine health checks until they became pregnant. In the US we have a huge amount of people walking around with diabetes and other concerning health conditions that they are unaware of due to lack of health screenings and focus on preventative health so it's common for those conditions to come to light during pregnancy when Mom is routinely being monitored by a healthcare professional. It's another reason why we think it's so important to focus on health prior to becoming pregnant.
I also want to point out that there is no real black and white approach to diagnosing gestational diabetes. Each hospital gets to determine which method of testing they feel is best and they get to pick what their cut off number is for labeling a Mama with gestational diabetes. It is not diagnosed the same from hospital to hospital, state by state, or even country to country. As you can imagine this can cause some major confusion! Aside from that, if you are a person that generally eats a low carb/ low sugar diet and guzzle the glucola drink as directed by your provider, it will give your body a major jolt of sugar and chances are you will have a major reaction to the surgery liquid compared to someone who eats sugar regularly. This happened to one of my sisters during her pregnancy. She is a very healthy human and failed the glucola test along with a second gestational diabetes test but when she tracked her sugars at home they were perfect!! This leads me to believe that she got a false positive result to the gestational diabetes screening. So she also got the label of gestational diabetes but clearly had very healthy sugar levels during her normal daily life.
After hearing about my sisters experience with gestational diabetes, I was even more determined to decline the glucola drink for risk of getting a false positive result on top of the horrible chemical additives. Some might be wondering why I am so hell bent on avoiding the label of gestational diabetes. Why can't I just go with the flow and just drink the drink? Why do I have to make it all such a big deal? I'm glad you asked!
My answer is - the only flow I go with is my own!! If you go with the flow of your health provider and don't make any decisions for yourself, you have given up all your power to your healthcare professional. You are no longer a key player in your health and the health of your future child. You are going with someone else's flow and allowing them to make all your health decisions that may or may not be based on evidence. Their decisions may or may not get you the birth or pregnancy outcome you had hoped for.
On top of giving up your power, having the label of gestational diabetes is a huge deal to someone like me who dreams of having an unmediated birth at a stand alone birth center. At the birth center I choose, if I have to take medication for gestational diabetes I will be required to transfer my care to a hospital setting. In a hospital setting gestational diabetes means higher risk for a bigger baby. Which leads to more ultrasounds (that may more may not be accurate in determining the true size of your baby). Which then leads to your provider potentially inducing labor early because they are scared the baby is too big (which we now know is not always the best option or necessary). Which then pushes you farther towards a c section that may or may not truly be necessary. I think you can see the cascade of medical interventions that typically follows the label of gestational diabetes. Please visit some of the links below to learn more and also visit Our Favorites page on our website where we share all the educational books we read and where we gather a lot of our information. We are not interested in siting research when our mentors have already done it for us. You have the freedom to gain all the same knowledge we have and to form your own opinions.
Now lets dive into my personal dance with gestational diabetes. As I stated above, I have zero interest in drinking the glucola. I was very upfront with my previous Midwife about this and we agreed that starting at 27 weeks of pregnancy I would start tracking my glucose levels at home. I got the glucose monitor that she recommended. I pricked my finger first thing in the morning and 2 hours after each meal. I did this for 2 weeks leading up to my next in office prenatal visit. I knew going into the appointment that my fasting number was higher than it should be but all my numbers after meals were perfect and gave no indication of gestational diabetes. At this point I wasn't sure what my Midwife would say. After she reviewed my numbers she said she wanted to talk to someone else who was more experienced in this area and get back to me. I found this a little alarming since she has been a Midwife for 15yrs and surly I am not the only patient she has seen with higher fasting numbers. She began mentally prepping me for the cascade of interventions that I have worked so hard to avoid. She spoke of more ultrasounds, inducing labor, and taking medication. My heart started to race and I suddenly felt the urge to run away from that hospital and never look back. This was a major red flag to me considering there was no talk about diet and lifestyle changes to help me cope with my new diagnoses. At this point you may want to read my blog post on why I fired my prenatal healthcare team at 31 weeks pregnant.
I'm finally home after my visit only to get a message from my Midwife with a few lousy tips and a line that read you technically have gestational diabetes. She said she would be referring me to an endocrinologist and diabetes specialist. I am beside myself!!! I eat healthy. I know how to be healthy. I know my body best and am far more in tune with my body compared to most. I know about blood sugar. I know how to structure my meals so that I don't get blood sugar spikes. I don't hardly eat sugar! I move my body regularly. I am above average in the health category of life. How could I possibly have gestational diabetes?! Deep down I could feel it in my bones that this couldn't be true.
I gave myself a couple of days to ride the roller coaster of emotions that comes along with a diagnoses like this. I was depressed. I felt defeated. I felt like a failure to my unborn child. I felt guilty that I may be pumping them full of sugar. I was scared that they are growing too big or that I had ruined their long term health before their life has even really started. I single highhandedly put my baby at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life. I will be forced to have a c section. I no longer have control over my birth plan. The emotions were all very raw and real. Not something I would wish on anyone.
I leaned on my husband and Alyssa who both reminded me that it's ok to be sad and purge these feelings, but now it's time to fight back and get to the bottom of this! So I read everything I could get my hands on about gestational diabetes. I listened to hours of podcasts on my walks. I was a sponge taking in all the knowledge and determined to do whatever I could to support my body in coping with this diagnoses. I became obsessed with all things gestational diabetes because no one cares more about rebalancing my body than I do!! I started acupuncture, taking herbs, drinking apple cider vinegar, snacking at night, cut all carbs and treat meals out of my diet, bumped up my movement, started taking organic CBD, I increased my vitamin D and a high quality different type of magnesium, worked on lowering my stress with lifestyle modifications along with organic essential oils and using supplements and diet to help lower unnecessary inflammation, and focused on positive thoughts. No this is not medical advice for you!!! Just sharing my very personal story in hopes you learn something new. And this was all information I had to learn on my own. Sure I am familiar with diabetes and the link between cortisol/stress and blood sugar levels from my previous studies but the pregnancy aspect was all new to me.
It was during this time that my Mama intuition was screaming loud and clear that it's time to change providers. So with some support from Alyssa, I called the local birth center and told them I was considering transferring my care. I explained my gestational diabetes situation along with how I haven't felt supported at the hospital in the way I thought I would. I even gave the nurse some of my blood sugar numbers over the phone. She immediately said she was hopeful and actually suggested that I try a new glucose meter. Why didn't my previous Midwife suggest this? Why was she so quick to refer me to a specialist and label me as high risk? Why did I have to fix this myself? Why didn't she give me diet advice to PREVENT this from the very beginning? I will let you make your own assumptions for I have my own about the whole situation. The bottom line is this is what I needed. Someone to give me hope. Someone to help me feel confident that everything would be ok. My only hesitation about transferring to the birth center was the fact that I would be forced to return to a Midwife hospital setting if I truly needed medication for gestational diabetes. But my gut was telling me to take the risk, trust the process, and transfer my care,
Although I have lots of knowledge in the holistic health space, when you are in the deepest part of a diagnoses it's easy to get lost. It's easy to feel like our body is betraying us. But Alyssa was there reminding me of our philosophy at Balanced Friends. Our body always knows what it's doing. It's never messing up and it's never wrong. She also reminded me that I am more than a number on a meter. How could I let one little meter define me and make me spiral into depression?! It's the exact reason why I don't own a scale and never really care to step on one. No scale or diabetes meter is worth the emotional stress that can come along with it. Alyssa reminds me that stress always makes things worse and to continue to repeat the mantra - I am healthy, I am pregnant, and everything is going exactly as it should. She is always there holding my hand through life and I am forever thankful for her love and support. She understands how I choose to live and the dreams I have for my pregnancy and birth. Being the Balanced Friends, Alyssa knows that I want more out of this life than to fall victim to the hospital way of interventions and medication. I want prevention and to always try a natural approach first. I was always made to be my own health advocate. I will always get a second opinion. I will always question before I put all my trust in the white coat. Alyssa gave me the push I needed to make the call to the birth center and once I made my first appointment, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.
Now to fill you in on my endocrinologist diabetes specialist visit. I came prepared with my sugar numbers and other notes about my diet. The endocrinologist took a look at my numbers and thankfully decided that medication is not necessary at this time. I am to track all my numbers and report to her once a week so she can screen for the need of medication. She states that medication would be indicated if half of my numbers are out of normal range. She gave me a script for a new glucose meter and gave me the option to speak with a dietitian. She told me "I know exactly what advice the dietitian will give you". She said "they will say you need to eat more carbs". I told her I wasn't interested in eating like that and do not want to meet with a dietitian. Having my own knowledge that carbs turn into sugar in the body and diabetes is a clear sign that my body has issues with sugar. More sugar is never the answer!!!
What a relief that I didn't need medication! Yay the local birth center will accept me as a client! Later that evening I picked up my new meter at the local pharmacy. I was so excited to compare the two meters that I woke up at 5:30 in the morning to check my fasting number and discovered a huge difference in the two meters. I couldn't believe it! The nurse at the birth center was right when she said I should try a new meter. Now that I have been tracking for a few weeks with my new meter all my numbers are healthy! Once I saw a huge difference in numbers over the week, I messaged the specialist and told her that tracking after every meal is adding unnecessary stress. It was making things worse for me because of the added pressure and timing. Keep in mind that cortisol/stress plays a major role in insulin/sugars. We both agreed that I would track for one full day and only fasting numbers for now. Again, never be scared to speak up for what you need when it come to your health. You always have a say! I am still tracking regularly because gestational diabetes is a very real thing and I am a firm believer that knowledge is power and I want to know how my body is responding to the foods I eat, to the hormones of my placenta, and my lifestyle modifications.
** The red meter is my old one with much higher numbers and the black one is my new one with consistently much lower numbers. The current recommendations is to have a fasting number below 95. If it't over then you have gestational diabetes. So according to the red meter I have gestational diabetes. According to the much higher quality black meter I don't. Here in the USA to get a nicer meter like this covered by insurance you first have to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes. If you don't have the diagnoses yet but want to track with a better quality meter, then you can pay for one similar out of pocket.
I recently had my first in office visit with my new Midwife at the birth center. From the moment I walked in for my visit I felt supported, confidant, and at ease. I asked my new Midwife if I needed to continue to submit my numbers to the diabetes specialist since the numbers were all healthy. I felt this was just one more thing to add to my to do list and one more healthcare professional to insert their opinion about my health that I truly had no interest in. My Midwife understood completely and said it's up to me if I would like to continue care with the diabetes specialist or not. She told me that it's standard of care for hospital Midwifes to refer to a specialist (due to hospital regulations) but if I would have gotten the diagnoses at my new birth center they would have first tried to correct things with diet and modifications before ever referring. So she said I wouldn't have gotten the referral so early in the first place and to proceed however I feel most comfortable. My new Midwife is giving me the freedom to take control of my health in a way that works best for me. She also made a point to say that it won't hurt to continue care with the specialist but it's not really necessary at this time.
My new Midwifes also say that they are not convinced in the original diagnoses to begin with. I am relieved to hear this because I didn't either! I am relieved that I don't actually have gestational diabetes and that I get to give birth at the place where I feel the most comfortable! What would have happened if I would have just drank the glucola drink? Would I have passed? What if I would have gotten a false positive that resulted in the gestational diabetes label and tracking at home anyways? What if I would have drank the chemical filled glugola, got a false positive, no one recommend tracking at home, and just decided to give me medication and send me on my way causing me to risk out of care at the birth center or worse taking "safe" medication when I don't really need it!? Each decision we make about our health including what provider we see is key.
This whole experience has opened my eyes to the many holes in our hospital healthcare system. Pregnant women are not truly being supported when it comes to diet, supplements, movement, comprehensive lab testing, and not given the information to make important choices about pregnancy. This is not ok with the Balanced Friends! We are here to help spark change. Here to share our stories in hopes you learn something new and can be the change for our future daughters that may choose to become mothers. I am thankful for this misdiagnoses for it fueled a fire in me that I will never be able to put out. It lead me to the birth center where I feel supported and confident about my baby's birthday. I am reminded that without darkness there is no light. I can finally see the light as I feel more prepared than ever to tackle motherhood! I am healthy. I am pregnant. Everything is going exactly as it should! Happy pregnancy journey my friends. Stay tuned for more blogs about pregnancy and birth for both the Balanced Friends are pregnant now! Bring on all the babies!!!
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