Why gestational diabetes was a blessing in disguise

I remember hearing from friends how awful the diabetes test was. You would have to drink this disgusting sugary drink and then have your blood taken to see if you had developed gestational diabetes during your pregnancy. I didn’t know much about gestational diabetes, and honestly didn’t think much of it because I didn’t have any of the predispositions. I am extremely active and a normal weight, there is no diabetes in my family, I was under 35 and this was my first child. I thought I would go into the test and be told everything was normal. I was wrong. Soon after my first test I got the call from my doctor saying the first test was inconclusive and I would have to go back for a longer and more intense test.

Then I got the phone call I really didn’t want to hear, I tested positive for gestational diabetes. I was in a store and I just broke down in tears. Fear came over me, what did this mean for the pregnancy? What did this mean for the baby?

My doctor told me the next steps would be meeting with a dietitian to come up with a game plan. I would also have to start monitoring my blood sugar levels.

On the call, there were several other women who were also in the same boat as me. The dietician went over how we wold monitor our sugar levels and gave us some tips on how to eat properly, as well as some GD friendly snacks we could try.

The next week was brutal. I had to test me levels six times a day, poking my finger before and after every meal. Writing down everything that I ate, and making sure I was going on at least a 15 minute walk after every meal. Despite my best efforts, sometimes my sugars would spike and I would feel extremely discouraged. I felt pity, guilt, and overall sadness that what should be one of the happiest times in my life was becoming a time of constant monitoring, worrying, and fear.

As the week went on though I was able to start to make sense of what worked for my body and what didn’t. I was surprised at how small changes made a huge difference: substituting white bread for whole wheat and tropical fruits for local berries. I was luckily able to control my sugar levels through diet.

On top of eating healthier – protein and veggies at every meal with some complex carbs – I was also forcing myself to move daily. On days that I was super tired it would be something as easy as a walk after my meals. But as I started to eat healthier (and I even lost some weight) I had more energy. I continued doing spin and pregnancy safe HITT classes – and to be honest the aches and pains I thought I would have during my pregnancy never came, nor did the third trimester fatigue.

On top of feeling healthy and energized during my pregnancy I also felt like my birth and recovery was a lot easier thanks to all the exercise I was doing ahead of time. When it came to pushing during labour I felt strong and in control. Post birth my body felt really good. I wasn’t in pain and was able to get back to walking and exercise fairly quickly. I was also back to my pre-pregnancy weight pretty quickly because of how active I was ahead of time.

Yes, being diagnosed with gestational diabetes was scary and yes it was hard to cut out sweets when I was dealing with endless pregnancy cravings, and yes it was hard to keep moving when I couldn’t even put socks on due to my giant belly, but overall I actually think there were some positive takeaways. So mommas if you get diagnosed with GD, keep your head high, you got this! And here are some tips that I found really helped me navigate GD.

Ways to cope with gestational diabetes 

1. Find alternatives for your favourite food items

I love toast, so it was easy to substitute white bread for whole wheat. Same goes for pasta. I was also enjoying eating yogurt, granola and bananas. So I started buying greek yogurt instead of vanilla and would add berries instead of bananas. Even switching milk for dark chocolate can make a big difference. Oh and I satisfied my ice cream cravings with halo ice cream (a low sugar option but still lots of different and delicious flavours to chose from.)

2. Find some exciting low sugar recipes

Sure it took a little more effort to come up with dinner ideas, but trust me there are some delicious options out there. I am a big fan of the cooking blog pinchofyum and the great thing is they have a whole section dedicated to low sugar meals and snacks. It made dinner time fun.

3. Stay active while also listening to your body

I am a very active person, but when you have been growing a human for 9 months there are days where you don’t even want to get out of bed. So I would try and find activities that fit my energy level for that day, but I would always make time for me to move. 9 months pregnant I would be doing anything from an intense spin class to just a 15 minute walk around the block. To be honest though on the days I didn’t want to do anything, just getting out for some fresh air made me feel more energized.

4. Don’t forget the snacks

Like I said I am quite active and so there were days that I would go out for hour long hikes and my sugar levels would actually drop too low  and so it was really important for me to find some easy GD friendly snacks that I could bring on hikes. Nuts was a great option and hard boiled eggs was another go to.

5. Eat a well balanced meal

When you have gestational diabetes is it is important to still eat carbs, but just make sure they are complex carbs. During your pregnancy it is also important to eat lots of protein (with GD lean protein should be your go to) and iron levels can suffer so you want to make sure you also have some greens.

6. Drink lots of water

I was so surprised one day when I had a high sugar level before a meal and so I went for a walk first and drank some water. The walk was only 10 minutes but the combination of walking and water made my levels go way down. Water helps dilute sugar and bring down your levels. I would mix it up by adding lemon or a glass of sparkling water, but just avoid adding anything too sugary for taste.

7. Treat yourself every once in a while

This is supposed to be the most exciting time in your life – but pregnancy is also hard and you are working very hard to make this little human, so if you are craving a cupcake every once in a while go for it. Safe splurges kept me sane during my pregnancy (like a little piece of cake at my baby shower).

8. Remember you are not alone

Meghan Trainor, Selma Hayek, and even Angelina Jolie are all human and all had gestational diabetes so try not to get too down on yourself (or feel guilty like I sure did). I found that reaching out to other mommas who were diagnosed with GD made me feel a bit better and sharing tips and tricks with them was always helpful. It was also great to share a glass of wine and a sugary treat once our babies arrived.

Good luck mommas you got this!

xo

Mia

 

 

My positive birth experience and what helped me along the way

 

Anxious, scared, nervous – all words I would use to describe how I felt when I was pregnant and knowing that as I was counting down to meeting my little man I was also counting down to giving birth. I didn’t have any close friends that had given birth before and so I had only heard second count stories – a lot of them rather frightening IMO.

“Contractions are a pain I can’t describe.”

“I had such bad separation and tearing, I am not sure my body will ever be the same again.”

A few of the things I heard during my journey – these quotes accompanied with horror stories of episiotomies, emergency c sections, 24 hours of labour.

As I moved further along  in my pregnancy, I started to deal with some issues. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, I was experiencing high blood pressure at times. Needless to say the fear of birth crept into my mind on a daily basis and I was having trouble actually enjoying the pregnancy.

But then it occurred to me that this is an experience I may never get to go through again and so instead of being afraid of what was to come I should try my best to enjoy every kick, every movement, every ultrasound photo. I should do my best to connect with the little bean that was growing by the day, that I was creating.

So instead of letting fear take over, I decided to take matters into my own hands and started to do certain things that made me embrace the experience instead.

I started doing daily meditation and breathing techniques which helped with my blood pressure. I made sure that I moved every day to keep my blood sugars low and to keep my body strong. I started doing prenatal yoga (which if you know me, you know I am not a big yoga person) to help with my flexibility. I started listening to hypno-birthing podcasts, particularly ones that focused on positive birth stories for all different kinds of birth (large babies, home births, c-sections) so that I could realize that no matter what happened with our birth, it could be a positive story.

On top of mentally and physically preparing as much as possible, I also wanted to have as much knowledge as possible. I know for some ignorance is bliss, but for this I wanted to understand all of the possibilities. I came up with a birth plan, did research on c-sections and how to make them a positive experience as well, came with a list of questions for my doctor for each checkup, asked if I could visit the birthing room when I visited the hospital. Having as much information as possible made me realize this wasn’t going to be a glamorous experience but I was feeling prepared and confident that my body wouldn’t let me down and I would be able to deliver a healthy baby boy.

Then came those unexplainably painful contractions at 12:30 on Christmas morning. The stories I had heard were right, this was a full body pain that I had never experienced before. There is no way to describe it – I won’t lie it is bad. I just had to keep reminding myself that it would only last a minute and then I would get a break, be it a short break but a welcomed one.

We made it to the hospital about an hour later and about 2 hours from when the contractions started I had an epidural put in and finally the pain subsided. By the time we made it to the hospital I was already 6cm dilated, we were in active labour.

Baby boy was sitting pretty high for quite some time and so the nurses told my husband and I to relax, we were in for a bit of a wait. I was actually able to get some sleep during this time (thank you modern medicine). Once in a while a nurse would come in to check baby and my vitals to make sure we were good. The team at the Squamish hospital  was so incredible, making sure I was as comfortable as can be, and keeping me as calm as possible – even when the doctor told me that if the baby didn’t move further down we might have to do a c-section.

They started me on some oxytocin to try and move babe down and the incredible nurses helped me move into different positions. Since I had an epidural I couldn’t really use my legs so they worked with me to get me on hands and knees and on my side. They also helped me walk around a little bit.

12 hours after we arrived at the hospital the nurse casually checked me. I was 10 cm and after checking with the Dr. she came over and told me, ‘it’s time to push.’ The anxiety came over my body but it was quickly calmed when she started telling me how I was going to do it. I knew I had an incredible team with me that was going to make sure me and baby were safe.

I didn’t have the sensation that I needed to push now – maybe because of the epidural, but we started on my side. Deep breath in and then pushing as hard as I could for 10 seconds – and repeat. We then moved to my back and as soon as I got into this position (even though I had read all the terrible things about it) the baby’s head was starting to make it’s way out. The doctors and nurses were so positive – affirming me on every push that I was one step closer to meeting my baby boy while my husband lifted my leg to help out with every contraction.

“He has a lot of hair”, is the one thing I remember the doctor saying. The next thing I know she is passing this purple human to my husband who then placed our little man on my chest. 53 minutes after I started pushing our sweet Max was here.

Most of the labour was a blur. I do remember the relief of pushing out the placenta and a bit of pain being stitched up (I had two category 1 tears and one category 2). But I finally had my perfect little human in my arms.

He was weighed and because of my gestational diabetes his blood was checked. 9 pounds 9.5 ounces and 53 cm was the final outcome ( I knew he would be large but I didn’t think I would have the strength to birth a baby that large.) When everything was done we made our way to the postpartum room where we were going to spend our first night together as a family, which also happened to be our first Christmas together.

Every few hours a wonderful nurse would come by to help us with latching and feeding. We were struggling a little with this, but thankfully I had collected some colostrum and we could feed him that in the meantime. Any questions we had were answered, any bell we rang a kind nurse would be there right away to help. I was bleeding, and in pain, and starting to realize my whole life had changed forever – but I felt at peace knowing that we had help.

And after one night of recovery, and a test to make sure we could put Max in his car seat properly, we headed home to start our new life together, and to finally open our Christmas presents, even though we already had the best gift of all.

My tips for a positive pregnancy and birth experience 

Let me start off by saying I was pretty open and honest throughout my pregnancy that I didn’t love the experience. I was dealing with really bad indigestion from day 1 (everyone told me this means my baby would have a lot of hair -and he did). I was then diagnosed with gestational diabetes and so was on a pretty strict diet for most of the pregnancy. But as I got closer to the end I tried  to embrace the experience. I reminded myself how lucky I am to be able to experience growing a human inside me. I would find ways to try and connect with my baby through reading or chats. I would gently poke to get a kick back. I realized these were moments for the two of us that no one else would get to experience and that was pretty special.

Secondly as I share my tips and things that helped me throughout my pregnancy and birth I realize that every woman’s experience is different. What worked for me may not work for someone else and that is ok, but these are tips that were either passed down to me or that I did some research to prepare myself for the best labour (and recovery) possible, so here we go.

1. Do your research 

As the old saying goes ‘ignorance is bliss’ – not when it comes to giving birth. I was so anxious and scared that I figured I wanted to have all the information possible so I could know exactly what might happen and how to best prepare for it. I took my first prenatal birthing class when I was only 15 weeks. I took a prepare to push course at 36. I watched different videos and read articles on best birth positions, breathing techniques, how to avoid tearing, how to have a positive c-section – you name it. But I also tried my hardest not to let my anxiety completely take over and when I saw something that made me nervous I would go to my doctors appointments prepared with questions. I realized that giving birth was completely out of my control, and that was ok because I was as mentally prepared for any situation that could come up and that gave me some comfort. I also came up with a birth plan. Thankfully I didn’t have to use it – but I was prepared to ask questions and understand options in case labour didn’t go as planned.

2. Find something that can help keep you calm

I was so afraid every time I went to the doctors office that I would be diagnosed with high blood pressure that I ended up having high blood pressure. I ended up having to go for 2 tests for hypertension. In my third trimester I finally decided to take matters into my own hands. I started listening to the calm podcast and practiced meditating. On top of that I started watching youtube videos for labour breathing techniques that I could use to stay calm but also to help with pushing. The hypno-birthing J breathing technique really helped me focus on pushing down and relaxing my pelvic floor during labour

3. Exercise

Gestational Diabetes proved to be a curse but also a blessing. It forced me to move everyday, even just for a 15 minute walk. This helped keep me in the best shape possible right up until birth – I also did a lot of nature walks, which helped me get out for fresh air. I also credit the working out in helping my post birth recovery go pretty smoothly.

4. Listen to some hypno-birthing and positive birth stories

I only discovered hypno-birthing late in my pregnancy so I never ended up taking a course ( I think I will if we have another baby). But even the podcasts were a huge help for me. I remember the first podcast focused around how your body is creating the right baby for you – and that your body is preparing for that baby. This was a mantra that I carried with me throughout the pregnancy – even when my baby was measuring over 7 pounds at 32 weeks. On top of that I listened to podcasts of positive birth stories for everything from having a big baby to c-section. This made me realize that no matter what experience I had with child birth, I could make it a positive experience.

5. Change your langage 

Another very helpful podcast that I listened to was on language and the importance of that in having a positive experience. Instead of talking about labour in a negative way I would try focus on the positive. The podcast spoke about not using language like where is your pain, because then you will focus on that. Instead try and find ways to focus on what feels good, or what steps you can take to feel better. I wasn’t so concerned about contractions, but I have heard of some people calling them waves or surges to make them more positive.

6. End the day with daily affirmation 

Every morning when I woke up I would come up with a daily affirmation or mantra. Something along the lines of ‘Every day (or every push) brings me closer to meeting my baby’ or ‘I am growing the right baby for my body’. I found some others online that helped me throughout my pregnancy and that I even had in my head as I was in labour to help me get through.

These again are just a few things that helped me during my pregnancy and childbirth. Every women’s experience is different and what helped me might not help you but I was able to (mostly) change the narrative from negative to positive. Sure I was still scared of childbirth, but these steps helped me believe in my ability to get through it – and guess what? We did.

Good luck mommas you got this

xo

Mia

 

 

A guide to looking after your mental health

While the holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year, that isn’t the case for everyone. In fact 1 in 4 people experience increased anxiety, or Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  While the to do list might seem long this time of year, it is also important to prioritize your mental health. If you ignore it,  it can impact aspects of your life like relationships, work ,  your physical health will suffer, and many other things will suffer as a result. Taking care of your mental health, in addition to everything else, should be at the top of your priority list.

However, since it is sometimes seen as a taboo issue, one that we sometimes feel ashamed to talk about, it may seem that you can do little to improve or maintain your mental health. The reality is that there is a lot that you can do, and you can start small if you want to. Read on to find out more.

Talk About Your Issues

Many of us believe that we must keep our troubles to ourselves. After all, who would want to hear about all the many problems we’re having? Who would care enough to go against all the impulses that urge you to remain silent?

 To be honest, there are a lot of individuals that care. Friends and relatives will undoubtedly want to know what is going on in your life and how you are dealing with things, particularly if you have had a terrible incident or something unexpected has occurred. If you don’t believe you can speak to someone you know, a therapist will listen to you and help you get back on track with your mental health. Joining online forums, for example, can provide total anonymity.

 When you talk about your difficulties, they typically appear much less than they were, and solutions can be discovered much more easily. The stress of thinking about your problems will be relieved, and you will feel better as a result.

 

Ask For Help

Asking for support to cope with your troubles and your mental health in general might be even more difficult than talking about them with someone. However, it’s uncommon for someone to be able to overcome the most difficult (and even minor) challenges without the assistance of others. It’s much better to recognize that you are struggling than to continue trying to get by independently, which is far more detrimental to your mental health.

 It makes no difference what the issue is that is giving you so much agony; someone will be able to assist you. Whatever it is, once you seek assistance, it will never be anything that cannot be dealt with in some way.

 

Keep Active

When you are feeling down and your mental health has suffered, you may want to sit or lay down and do nothing. However, it is much more preferable to get up and be moving to make yourself feel better and to care for your mental health in general. I know this has helped me through some of the difficult 

When you start moving about, whether it’s to play sports, go to the gym, take a class, or just stroll outdoors, you’ll start to feel better. When you’re through, you’ll be pleased you made the time to exercise, and your mental health will almost surely improve. As we said, start small and then move onwards, so you might want to begin by checking out https://sportnews.in/ and then going on from there.

Asking for support to cope with your troubles and your mental health in general might be even more difficult than talking about them with someone. However, it’s uncommon for someone to be able to overcome the most difficult (and even minor) challenges without the assistance of others. It’s much better to recognize that you are struggling than to continue trying to get by independently, which is far more detrimental to your mental health.

 

It makes no difference what the issue is that is giving you so much agony; someone will be able to assist you. Whatever it is, once you seek assistance, it will never be anything that cannot be dealt with in some way.

 

Boosting your calorie restricted diet

I have struggled with my weight for most of my life. Having been a professional athlete fitness has always been a part of my life, but over the years in talking with experts I have realized nutrition is just as if not more important than the fitness side when it comes to being healthy. So recently I have been focused on my eating habits and tracking calories.  You might have gotten used to portion control and meal planning to keep your calories in check, but to work out effectively, you also need to make sure you’re meeting your nutritional needs. So, how do you do that without adding tons of calories to your diet?

Photo by Ovidiu Creanga from Pexels

Do not fast

The very first thing that should be made clear: calorie-restricted diets should not be a term used interchangeably with fasting or with tea cleanses that require you to cut your calories down to extreme lows. Intermittent fasting can help, but you have to make sure that you’re eating a healthy amount of calories a day so you avoid issues like malnutrition because your body simply isn’t getting enough energy. This is all about managing weight but in a healthy manner. 

 

Get your nutrients from the right places

What food you’re eating matters as much as how much you’re eating, of course. You might be within your calorie goals in terms of your diet, but if you’re relying entirely on processed foods, you’re going to be missing out big time when it comes to the nutrients. Fresh food diets are much, much better because whole foods not only have more nutrients in them, but they have a higher bioavailability, meaning that it’s easier for your body to absorb them. Look at some of the fresh food delivery services near you if you have trouble getting your hands on fresh produce.

 

Use supplements to make up

If you’re trying to push for specific exercise goals, then you should make sure that you’re also adjusting your diet to those aims. You might find that even with a well-balanced diet, you still need a few extra nutrients to meet your daily recommendations. To that end, you can take a look at a supplement store for easy ways to slip those nutrients into your diet. Of course, you should talk to your doctor about supplements if you’re on any medication or dealing with any chronic health issues. They’re safe for the majority of people, but it’s worth looking out.

 

Keep track

Simply put, you should make sure you know exactly what your body is getting, instead of doing guesswork. There are some pretty great diet tracking apps out there that look not only at the calories you’re eating, but the macronutrients such as fat, protein, and carbs, and then break it down even deeper into the micronutrients. Using these apps, you can fine-tune your diet and what supplements you’re taking to ensure that you’re meeting all the needs of a healthy body while still maintaining the calorie count that you need to manage your weight.

 

It may be the case that you need to adjust your calorie restrictions, allowing yourself a little more to get the nutrition that you need, as well. You can set standards for yourself, but don’t make them so inflexible that you can’t get the nutrients that you need.

Good luck with those fitness goals friends,

xo

Mia

How to create a healthier home

Image by Denise Husted from Pixabay

I know this might be pretty obvious, but everyone wants to feel healthy and at their best right? I know during this pandemic feeling our best doesn’t come as easy. It has been mentally and emotionally draining on all of us but you are probably still trying to do what you can to wake up feeling good. Some steps you might be taking is easting right, exercising regularly, and making sure you  get enough sleep. Each of these is vital, but there may be one influence on your health you overlook, and that is your home. Your home plays a significant role in your wellbeing and impacts everything from your mood to your physical health. Creating a healthy home is an investment in your wellbeing and can enhance every area of your life. If you want to create a healthier home, here are some things you can do: 

Improve Air Quality

You may not have thought about your home’s air quality, but if indoor air quality is poor, it can cause various problems. Low indoor air quality can cause allergy symptoms and exacerbate conditions such as asthma. A reduction in indoor air quality can occur if your home has inadequate ventilation or if your air conditioning is not functioning correctly. If you spot an issue with your air conditioning unit, it is wise to call an emergency ac repair service to get the problem solved and ensure your air conditioning is working efficiently once again.

Keeping up with maintaining your HVAC system is the best way to keep it working efficiently for longer. 

Another important way to keep your home healthier is to install a carbon monoxide alarm. Carbon monoxide can pollute your home without you even knowing as it is an odourless gas. The effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are potentially severe, so it is vital to reduce your exposure.

 

Reduce Excess Moisture

Having excess moisture in your home can lead to mold and mildew forming. Mold and mildew not only look pretty gross, but they also are not great for your health. Depending on your sensitivity to mold spores, they can cause you to have allergy-like symptoms including a runny nose, itchy eyes, and headaches. 

Mold can appear in many forms in the home and could look like patches of black dots on your wall or other surfaces, or even have a ‘furry’ appearance. If you notice mold in your home, you may want to get it removed to prevent it from spreading and get your home looking great again.

To prevent mold from forming in your home, it is essential to keep your moisture levels low. The most crucial step in reducing moisture in your home is to prevent condensation. Condensation often occurs in the bathroom and kitchen. Activities such as taking your daily shower and cooking can create large amounts of condensation, leading to mold developing. Improving ventilation in your home while you are showering or cooking is the best way to keep moisture at bay. The simplest solution is to open the window before you shower or start cooking, as this will prevent condensation. If you hang wet laundry around your home, this can also increase moisture levels. If possible, it is best to let your laundry dry outdoors rather than inside, where it can create condensation.

Here is to a healthier and happier home my friends,

xo

Mia