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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Baby Wind Blues

 

I had a lovely morning with my Homebirth Group today 😊 Such empowering, inspiring ladies keeping me on track for my own homebirth in December 😊

There were 2 ladies there with brand new babies, one who was suffering with some uncomfortable wind and I was reminded of my own journey with Eden.

She used to be so uncomfortable! I remember one day that she started crying when my husband left for work in the morning and didn’t stop until he got home in the afternoon pretty much; only when she cried herself to sleep exhausted or fed. Otherwise it was pretty much constant. Or so it felt. It was heartbreaking to be unable to soothe her and I really struggled that day. The words “I can’t do this” were on the edge of my tongue as I handed her over helplessly to my husband when he got home.

There were many dark days and I have so much empathy for new mums who are finding it hard! There is no book that tells you what is wrong or what to do to help, everybody seems to offer different advice, and ultimately you have to find what works for you.

Today reminded me of the things that worked for us and I wondered if it would be helpful to share them….

The first is a simple, but beautiful technique called the I Love You massage.  There are some clear instructions at this link: http://www.shoppinglifestyle.com/parenting/i-love-you-infant-massage/769/2/  Basically you are tracing the shape of an I and an upside down L and U on baby’s tummy to move pockets of air along. This really worked for us and was a beautiful way to bond, with Eden’s wide eyes staring up at me! It was relaxing to do before bed and I found Sweet Almond Oil gentle on her skin.

The second technique was pedalling her legs like a bicycle, gently. I tended to do this if she woke uncomfortable in the night. I would hold her little ankles gently and press her legs towards her chest and then hold for a few seconds. I would then alternate the legs like pedalling and then go back to two legs at a time; whatever seemed to be effective for her. She would often let out wind when I was doing this!

Another great thing I learned was about laid back breastfeeding. Have a read of http://www.biologicalnurturing.com/# and see if this is for you. I felt part of Eden’s wind issues early on was how much milk I had – I.e. lots! She would splutter and fuss, feed in short bursts and really often and I guess take in air. She had explosive green poos too! However these improved when I cut out dairy (see the following tip.) For me laid back breastfeeding helped gravity work in our favour. It was also overwhelmingly beautiful lying with her skin to skin.

Diet. This one was a big one for us. Ultimately I found many things in my diet were affecting Eden, but that was because of the issues with her gut. However, there are certain foods I would recommend every mum struggling with a windy baby try cutting out to see if it helps. I found this picture with a good summary:

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Also use a good baby probiotic. You can dab on your breast before baby feeds as a way of feeding the probiotic to them. (I got some funny looks as Eden would unlatch though, with a moustache of white powder!)

Last, but not least, acupressure. Just gently applying pressure in the blue and pink areas on the picture below. This can be done as a massage or simply pressing gently for no longer than 30 seconds. Baby will often tell you when they have had enough and withdraw their little tootsies! Eden wouldn’t stand for much touching of her feet, but reflexologists and Chinese practitioners speak highly of the power of these points.

Image result for acupressure points baby's foot

Using Essential Oils

As Eden got older (3 months +) we used essential oils more and more to help her. For example, I massaged a proprietary doTERRA blend into her tummy during the I Love You massage, which worked really well! It is called Digestzen.

I only recommend 100% certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils for use on your little one. The majority of essential oils are intended for fragrance or food, rather than therapeutic response, so are made from a majority of man-made laboratory created scents. The bottle may contain some essential oil, and may produce a therapeutic response, but their quality is not dependent on providing results that are therapeutic, they just literally need to smell and taste good.

Importantly, they have to smell and taste THE SAME every time! Which means that if the essential oil used in a particular formulation doesn’t meet the expectation or requirement for the manufacturer they will have their chemists ‘manipulate’ the oil with man-made chemicals to ‘standardize’ the end product. They can also fill essential oil bottles with cheaper chemicals to bring down the price of the bottle.

The essential oils I use and trust, and recommend to my clients are from dōTERRA.  I have used essential oils on and off since I was a teenager – mainly as aromatherapy – but it had never occurred to me that the quality of oils I was using matters.  When I first experienced dōTERRA I was blown away by the difference of these Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils and was curious to learn and experiment more.  Within a couple of weeks one sample had turned into an entire box and now my oils are an everyday part of my family’s wellness journey.  <<Read more here>>

Finally when nothing else worked for us we used colic calm, a natural gripe water (one that really is natural and not full of sugar and alcohol!) It is from a company called tummy calm and you can buy it over the counter in the pharmacy for a pretty penny. This link from their website that is a great resource for breastfeeding. 

I hope some of these tried and tested techniques work for you if you are struggling with the Baby Wind Blues and if you have your own things that have worked for you, please feel free to share in the comments.

To find out more about essential oils click here.  If you keen on trying essential oils I write a free e-book to help you get started. You can access it here. Or if you would like some help from me directly, Click here!

Much love x x

Protect your growing baby from harmful radiation

Fodmap Friendly Bolognese Feast!

Before I discovered Eden’s intolerances I used to love making a Bolognese sauce for pasta that I got out of Jo Seagar’s Italia Cookbook. I have adapted this recipe to suit a FODMAP friendly diet. It is gluten and dairy free also and it is too good not to share!

Makes 4-6 serves

3 tablespoons olive oil, small bunch spring onions, 1 carrot peeled and finely diced, 1 stalk of celery, 500g pork mince, 1 cup gluten free bacon, 1/2 cup dry white wine, 2 x 400g cans crushed tomatoes in juice, 1 cup gluten free chicken or beef stock, 1/2 cup rice milk, salt and freshly ground pepper, 500g gluten free pasta (we love quinoa spaghetti)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the spring onions, carrot and celery. Cook until  veges are soft – about 6-7 minutes.

Raise the heat to high and add the mince and bacon. Stir fry until meat is sealed. Add the wine and stir until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the tomatoes and juice and the stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat until the mixture is just simmering. Simmer for at least an hour, then add the milk and cook for a further 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta and drain. Serve in a bowl and ladle over the sauce!

This is a great meal for mums with children struggling with intolerances/allergies. I recommend Spaghetti Bolognese in general because most recipes you can adapt to meet your dietary requirements.  My girl loves it and you can hide other veggies in there like capsicum or eggplant.

FODMAP is an acronym for fermentable, oligo, di and monosaccharides and polyols. I came to remember these things as the foods in our diet that are complex carbohydrates that those with a leaky gut and other gut issues really struggle to digest and as such cause gas, pain, diarrhea and constipation.

A low FODMAP diet limits lactose and fructose, sugar alcohols and non-digestable fibers. This meant for Eden cutting out beans and high fructose fruit, galactans (in beans) and high fructan vegetables, plus soy and wheat.

This diet worked wonders for Eden. We identified her struggle with FODMAPS through an elimination diet after we had already eliminated dairy.

For more info on FODMAPS please do not hesitate to contact me! In the meantime enjoy the pasta 😊😊😊 It’s so good! And if you double the ingredients above you’ll have enough for the freezer.

Much love! Happy Labour Weekend if you’re in NZ!