Gestational Diabetes – Understanding Blood Sugar in Pregnancy

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, Eden, I was handed the diagnosis of “borderline gestational diabetes” after I did the ‘sugar test’ and was told to watch my diet.

When I was pregnant with my second daughter, Jade, right from the very outset I was told to “watch my diet”.  My midwife helpfully talked about the Glyceamic Index and proteins and reducing processed foods because these are bad to our general health and thus bad for our pregnancies.  This nutritional counselling gave me a whole different outlook on my pregnancy.  Much in contrast to the stereotype of sit back and eat all the foods that you like because your body craves it, and give up exercise because you can, my body became my temple and when it came round to the gestational diabetes test, firstly I was told I had the choice whether I wanted to take it or or not, and secondly reassured that should I get the diagnosis, it didn’t really matter because I should be eating the kind of foods that were low on the Glyceamic Index anyway because high GI foods lead to higher levels of glucose in the blood and these can be passed onto baby.

Recently I came across a wristband that is soon going to be reading sugar trends in our blood.  It already reads blood pressure, which has been incredibly helpful to me because I’ve always had quite low blood pressure and suffer for it.  I realised this would be a very useful tool in pregnancy, both for blood pressure and blood sugar and could even rule out the sugar test completely, because right from the get go of your pregnancy you would be able to see how the foods you are eating are affecting your sugar level trends.

I checked in with my beautiful Midwife, Glenis Paulette, to guest blog on Gestational Diabetes from her perspective and the nutrition that can prevent it, so you can make your own minds up as to the best way for you to manage your levels of glucose in the blood.  Ultimately, the levels of glucose in your blood are what is passed on to baby.

Read on for Glenis’ Guest Blog to understand more, it was very eye opening to me.  You can read her bio and see her contact details at the bottom of the page.  She is also a great Homeopath and Acupuncturist, who has been of great support to me and my girls up to this day!

If you’re interested in learning more about the wristband to read sugar trends in the blood (non-invasively I might add!), please contact me.  You might also be interested to read my Homebirth Story with Jade and Glenis and/or learn more about Essential Mum!  If you have any questions for me or Glenis, do not hesitate to drop them in the comments below.

Much Love x x

Gestational Diabetes Diagnosis in Pregnancy

The test for Gestational Diabetes (GD) in pregnancy is often considered routine and offered to women without counselling, explanation or consent. Many women are not even aware that they can refuse it. The diagnosis of GD is made by evaluating the level of a blood result taken from the woman after she has fasted for 8 hours and then given a sugary drink. Her blood is tested one and two hours after she has been given the drink to see how well she has been able to metabolise the sugar. If the woman fails the test she is then labelled with GD and her pregnancy is treated as high risk. The levels above which the woman is considered diabetic are arbitrarily defined by different health bodies and there is little consensus throughout the world what this level should be.

Studies show that the tests are unreliable and often give significantly different readings when repeated a week apart. Women who already have a good diet with minimal sugar in it also probably have difficulty metabolising such a sugar hit when it vastly exceeds what they are used to consuming. Also the same sugar load is given to all women irrespective of her weight, meaning it is much more of a load for a 60kg woman than one who is 85+kg.

There is also little evidence to show that this classification and the resulting treatment actually prevent the supposed risks of harm or mortality to the baby. Babies of GD mothers are at risk of being larger and at slightly increased risk for shoulder dystocia, a condition where a baby’s shoulders become stuck at birth preventing their body from being born. These babies can also suffer from low blood sugar levels after birth and be more at risk of being overweight and suffering from diabetes later in life. However, if they are medically managed by a hospital diabetes team they are more likely to be induced and subjected to the resulting cascade of interventions, more often resulting in a caesarean section. The resultant stress on the mother of having a ‘high risk’ classification also impacts negatively both on her and the baby. Obesity and excessive weight gain in pregnancy are more likely to lead to adverse effects for the mother and baby than a diagnosis of GD, although the two can go hand-in-hand.

GD is in fact a mild condition, without symptoms, that develops in the last few months of pregnancy. It is not the development of a serious disease. The level of glucose in the blood may remain higher for longer in pregnant women so that the developing fetus has an adequate and stable supply of nutrients to optimize their growth and well-being.

Managing this increased demand by the fetus can be optimised by giving the same practical advice to women diagnosed with GD as to all pregnant women.

Nutritional counselling should focus on the quality of carbohydrates they consume rather than the quantity. The most useful way to rank carbohydrates is according to their glycaemic index (GI). Pregnant women would do well to avoid or reduce those foods high on the GI as their metabolism leads to higher levels of glucose in the blood. These foods include simple sugars and honey, soft drinks, many processed breakfast cereals, white rice and white bread. Chemical sweeteners are also not good for the body. Many processed foods include excessive sugar, low quality carbohydrates and oils. A healthy diet is one containing fresh whole foods and complex carbohydrates because they are digested more slowly by the body and provide a steady source of energy and also more fibre. Examples include wholemeal breads and pasta, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and breakfast cereals based on oats, barley, nuts and seeds. Adequate oils and protein are also important.

Regular exercise is also advised as this helps the body burn up glucose and increases the effectiveness of insulin.

The best thing to prevent low blood sugars in the newborn is to ensure that they are breastfed early and regularly.

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Safe Sleep for Baby

Baby sleep has always been a hot topic for me.  Baby sleeping at all eluded me with my first baby, Eden, because of her gut troubles.  In fact, she is 4.5 years now and she still isn’t sleeping through the night.  My second daughter, Jade, sleeps really well, but she is currently sleeping in the bed with me. Whoever I talk to there are always questions about baby sleep and risks too that keep us mothers up at night. I remember being perched on the end of my bed watching Eden breathe when we first brought her home from hospital after all the terrifying things I had read about SIDs.

Recently, I became aware of a big risk posed to our children and it was something I had never considered before.  I was shocked because I thought I had covered off all my bases – no sleeping on the tummy, good ventilation in the room, essential oils to help baby relax in a diffuser with a timer, room not too hot not too cold… but the danger isn’t something you can see and it is everywhere.

How many of us fall asleep with our mobile phone on the bedside table?  Who has a baby monitor running so that they can hear when baby wakes?  How many small children use night lights?  Technology is in its golden age.  We use electronic devices, gadgets, and appliances for everything and we have become so attached to our mobile phones that they’re always with us, even when we sleep. I remember when both my babies were small scrolling Facebook would be the only thing that got me through the long nights breastfeeding.

However, these devices are releasing an EMF (electromagnetic frequency) that is negatively impacting our health and it may even be the reason you haven’t thought of yet as to why baby just won’t sleep through the night. Many studies are now linking EMFs with problems sleeping, depression and cancer, and the World Health Organization is in the process of reviewing its classification of electromagnetic radiation in the midst of a growing body of evidence that shows that cell phone and wireless radiation—at even very low levels—could harm our health in a number of different ways.

How do EMFs affect us?

EMF radiation is such a massive issue. I could write so much, but I’m just going to focus on a few facts that have impacted me, which I hope will help you to decide whether you want to limit your exposure or not. Please note that the key areas below are not meant to be a comprehensive analysis of how EMF exposures may affect your baby’s health and I encourage you to do your own research.

Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress produces proliferation of free radical activity in our bodies and an environment positive for cancer and other health issues.  EMFs cause this stress in our bodies through cell proliferation of malignant cells and disruption of cell-signaling systems, which determine how a cell responds to its environment.

Brain Cancer

In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization, classified microwave radiation from communication devices as a “possible carcinogen.” This is in the same category as lead, engine exhaust, DDT, and jet fuel.

The brain does not complete development until the early- to mid- twenties. This means children have an increased risk of the effects of EMF exposure and deserve an additional level of precaution. Small influences on the developing brain can result in large impacts later in life.

Studies in Europe show that people who used cell phones heavily for over ten years have a doubled risk of brain cancer, and those who begin using cell phones as teenagers have between four to five times more brain tumors by their late twenties.

Digital dementia

Scientists in Korea have reported increasing prevalence of digital dementia in children. They reported that children who are heavy technology users have brains that are underdeveloped on the right side. This has been characterized by memory loss, attention disorders, lack of eye contact, lack of empathy, and difficulty feeling or showing emotions.  As a result, the Korean government is instituting programs to reduce uses and exposures, especially to young children.

Baby’s Sleep

EMFs from manmade devices have a higher rate of oscillation (vibrate at a higher number of cycles) than the natural electromagnetic fields of our body at rest. The electrical current in your home is generally between 50-60 Hz. In contrast, the ideal frequency in your brain in sleep drops to as low as 2 Hz.1

This discrepancy can prevent you from falling asleep and pull you out of deep sleep, if you do manage to get there. This is because your brain tends to entrain itself to the frequency in the electricity and keeps oscillating at the higher rate of the electricity, which prevents sleep.

Wireless devices are even more powerful in their ability to affect our sleep. They emit a microwave radiation—that oscillates at a much higher frequency. And this can really keep you awake.  The thing about WiFi is that it is on all the time and is the main contributor to the electromagnetic radiation in our homes.

EMFs also suppress the production of melatonin. Melatonin, a hormone produced by our pineal gland, regulates our circadian rhythm and helps us sleep. It is also responsible for killing free radicals and for supporting the immune system.

Researchers have found that EMFs hinder the production of melatonin as well as prevent the absorption of the melatonin that is produced because of cell disruption.

Continual cell phone use can also decrease the pineal gland’s production of melatonin.

I am still learning about this area of concern for our babies and children. I have started using a device called Biozen that alters the electromagnetic waves emitted from electromagnetic devices so that oxidative stress and mutagenic effects where the strands of our DNA break and are unable to repair does not happen. Effectively the altered waves work on a biological level to do the opposite of EMFs, helping to repair the DNA as the natural process of our cells would do in an optimum environment.

I still feel it’s important to turn electronic devices off and keep them away from babies while they sleep.  This includes unplugging all electronics and appliances in baby’s bedroom and making sure we limit the use of phones and other screen time before bedtime.

Alarm clocks, electric blankets, baby monitors, lights, ipads and laptops are also among the many gadgets and appliances in our bedrooms that can cause serious health effects and sleep loss. Baby Monitors is an extremely tough one.  We use them to protect our babies and support us to know if something is wrong.  Biozen is a great alternative if you don’t want to stop using your baby monitor.  So far we have Biozen on our phones, laptop, tablet and the WiFi router!  Biozen is the only medically certified and scientifically proven to work (with the testing also certified.)

I hope this blog has been helpful in understanding what EMFs are and their effects, so you can keep baby’s bedroom (and yours!) radiation-free.  Experiment with removing devices from baby’s room or using the Biozen to see if it helps with baby’s sleeping.  I’d love to hear your feedback!  I have become fully committed to helping people understand the seriousness of the situation we are in with EMF radiation and collectively detoxifying our environment of dangerous electrosmog.  If you feel passionate too, or would like to learn more, please join me in my group on Facebook, Safe Wave Warriors!