Thursday, 21 April 2011

A Diabetic Pregnancy...and Some Healthy Eating Tips

Today I went for a blood test, my gestational diabetes(GD) follow up.  You may be wondering what this has to do with you if you are neither pregnant with gestational diabetes, nor suffering with type 1 or 2 diabetes.  Well,if you are looking to lose a few pounds let me tell you that the principles of a diabetic friendly diet are broadly the very same principles for losing weight, so scroll on down to the end of the post ;-)

Photo Credit: M daras
I had GD during my first pregnancy which you can read about here, but this time round I had sugar in a pee sample at 16weeks and was duly referred for a glucose tolerance test.  Thankfully it was a false alarm but I was now already on the radar and was asked to repeat the test at 20wks.  Sadly this time I was not so lucky, and failed the blood test miserably.  Although shocked at such an early diagnosis I consoled myself in the knowledge that I coped last time, and I would again...this time I knew the ropes.  Or so I thought.

My body had other ideas.  After four days it became  apparent that unless I was to adopt an Atkins style diet, with no carbs at all, I was destined to fail my finger prick tests at every turn, so back to the diabeteic clinic I traipsed, to be started on insulin.

Managing GD on insulin is vastly different to both diet controlled gestational diabetes and non pregnant insulin dependent diabetes.  When you are pregnant, the effects of high blood sugar on the baby are serious, and I mean thirty times more likely to have a stillbirth type serious.  Even if you deliver a healthy baby, they can have serious problems in maintaining their blood sugar levels and need the services of Special Care on delivery.  As you can imagine, the pressure is on to keep your blood sugar as low as possible.  So low in fact that the antenatal diabetes clinic consider frequent hypos to be a good thing (for more information on hypos see here).  The particular difficulties in maintaining tight blood sugar control when pregnant are twofold.  Firstly, the amount of insulin you need increases as your pregnancy progresses.  You may think that you know how much insulin you need for a particular meal one week, but the next week it probably won't be enough.  Secondly, the rate at which you use the sugar in your blood depends not only on how active you are but also how active the baby is, over which you obviously have no control.

The basic strategy for managing GD are that you have your insulin injection before your meal, and test your blood an hour after your meal to ensure that your blood sugar is within the required range.  If it is too high, a further injection of insulin is needed.  But this is classed as a 'fail' and means the baby has been subjected to too much sugar.  At your monthly visits to the antenatal diabetic clinic more than a handful of these and you will be subject to the wrath of various consultants!

I was determined that my baby would be fit and well, and so managed my diabetes with a rod of iron. By 28 weeks it was hellish.  I had on average two or three hypos a week, which are themselves hellish.  I became effectively housebound as I was too worried about having a hypo either when driving or when out and about with Star in my care.  I found it enough of a challenge taking care of myself when I was having a hypo, let alone being away from home with a two year old in tow.  Stress also plays havoc with blood sugar levels, and through this period my father's illness became significantly worse and he was admitted to a nursing home, and passed away 9 days before Moonbeam was delivered.  So much stress, and more stress worrying about what the stress was doing to my unborn child.

Despite all this Moonbeam arrived by elective section on 17th Jan weighing 8lb 7ozs, with an Agpar of 9.  Despite having to have his blood tested twice within his first 7hrs he was fine and dandy and has been a joy ever since.  On reflection I do wonder whether a little less severe management would have been more approriate as 8lb 7ozs may sound like a good weight, but factor in a 99th centile head circumference and the fact that he was so skinny he had stick arms and legs and no bum cheeks and I think a little more sugar in my blood may have been more comfortable for both of us.  Hindsight is of course a marvellous thing.  He was healthy, and that's what counts.

And so to hints and tips.
  • Eat 3 meals and 3 snacks a day.
  • Protein ie meat/fish/nuts/yoghurt/cheese down the absorption of sugar so ensure there is some protein in every meal and snack.
  • Fat also slows down the absorption of sugar, so provided your GD isn't due to excess weight, ditch the low fat versions of everything and go full fat all the way.
  • Sugar is the enemy, don't eat it.  This obviously includes cakes and biscuits, but if you eat pre prepared food stuff, always check the label.  Sugar goes by lots of names...glucose, fructose,'s all sugar.  Take care with fruit too.  
  • All carbohydrate is converted into sugar but wholemeal/wholegrain carbohydrate is converted much more slowly that refined/white carbohydrate which should be avoided.  This means granary bread, brown basmati rice, wholemeal pasta, wholewheat noodles.  
  • Fibre also slows down the absorption of sugar, which is why wholegrains work.
  • Your insulin requirement will be higher in the mornings and reduce as the day goes on, so go carb light at breakfast, and eat your biggest carboydrate portion for dinner in the evening.
  • A portion is basically the size of your first, or palm of your hand.
  • Some people are more sensitive to certain types of carbohydrate than others, so if something doesn't seem to be working for you try something else.  I could only have half a small jacket potato and porridge was out of the question.
A typical day's menu for me was....

Poached egg on a small piece of buttered granary toast

A satsuma and a handful of nuts

A chicken drumstick, guacamole, houmous, veg sticks, a couple of oat biscuits.

Half a banana and a handful of nuts

Spaghetti Bolognese with wholemeal spaghetti

Hopefully, if you or anyone you know are ever diagnosed with gestational diabetes this will help.  Frustratingly nobody gave me all this info either from the start, or in one go.

If you are reading this with an interest in weight loss, check back soon, when I will explain why sugar, rather than fat, is the key to losing weight without going hungry.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Getting Into Shape - Mind The Gap!

After an enforced break due to poorly children and technology issues I am finally able to bring you my first post on rolling our sleeves up and getting on with getting into shape, part of reclaiming our Fit, Foxy and Fabulous former selves.

On a previous post I very broadly outlined how I plan to do it, but felt that before encouraging you to jump right in it was important to issue a word of caution.

I think for most mum's the tummy area is the one that is often the most stubborn and causes the most frustration and disappointment when trying to get our pre baby figures back.  The obvious answer is to launch into endless crunches/situps in all their various guises but WAIT! Did you know that you could be making your mummy tummy worse rather than better?  The reason is a condition called Diastasis Recti, or a separating of the tummy muscles which can effect up to 66% of mums.

So how do you know if you're suffering from this?  Well the good news is that it's easy to diagnose  yourself.  Simply lie on your back with your knees bent & your feet flat on the floor and rest your finger tips (palm facing you) two inches above your belly button.  Now raise your head and shoulders slightly off the floor & press your fingers down into your tummy.  If your fingers sink in and you feel the muscles close in around them as you raise your head and shoulders notice how many fingers fit in the gap.  Now do the same directly over your tummy button, and again two inches below.

The gap caused by the separated muscles, or the Diastasis Recti gap is measured in finger widths. A gap of up to 2 finger widths is completely normal, but anything more, and it can be ALOT more, and you are suffering from this condition.  But fear not, however large the gap, and however long ago you had your babies, it can be fixed with dedication to some simple but effective exercises.

I'll leave you now to go prod your tummies, leave me a comment and let me know what you find... 

Saturday, 26 March 2011

What's In A Name?

On Sunday 20th March Moonbeam was baptised, and it got me thinking about how much I liked his name and what a good choice we had made.

I consider myself fortunate in that I like my own name, and I feel that it represents me very well.  I often wonder, however, whether this was a well thought out decision or a happy coincidence.  How much thought do parents generally put into choosing their children's names ?  How did you choose yours?

Unsurprisingly for someone with obsessive/compulsive tendencies I put a great deal of thought into the names I chose for my boys.  I should explain that whilst they go by the names of Star and Moonbeam on here, their real life names couldn't be more different.  I wanted old, traditional names.  Strong names.  Names that would offer gravitas to the professional young men I hope they will become.  Names which, if shortened, were still pleasing, yet befitting of young men whiling away carefree nights at the rugby club.  Names which somehow sounded right together with our surname.  Names that were not too common as to have a class full of namesakes, but nor so unusual as to be teasing fodder at school.

A great deal of thought indeed, but worth it when I see my boys, both now and into their future, and am satisfied that their names will serve them very well.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Getting Into Shape #1

Having gone public with my 'Fit, Foxy and Fabulous' intentions a couple of days ago I thought it was time I put down some markers and started with the basics.

I am generally a pretty healthy person.  I had a big wakeup call a few years ago when I was struck down by a debilitating episode of depression.  During this time I started looking at my lifestyle, reading lots, researching widely and retraining and from that implemented some big changes.  I felt vibrant, and it is this state that I am endeavouring to return to.

Sadly pregnancy didn't agree with me and whilst my babies were fine and dandy, I did not fare so well.  No lasting damage, but my pregnancies, and in particular the last one, were truly horrific.  So now I am on a mission to rebuild myself, and put my child bearing misery behind me.  If you would like to put some vibrancy back into your life why not join me?  Leave me a comment, I'd love to hear about what you're doing and how you're getting on.

I began the healthy eating regime a couple of Mondays ago and so far that is going well.  I am 5'6" and my starting weight was 10st, which is 2st heavier than my pre pregnancy weight.  Weigh in day is a Monday, and this week I was 9st 9.8lbs which I am delighted with.  As I am breastfeeding I am not dieting as such but have simply cut out the junk, leaving my otherwise healthy diet unblemished.

I had planned on starting the exercise this week but having had a week of hideous nights with Moonbeam that fell by the wayside.  As soon as I feel up to it I will be doing Jillian Michael's '30 Day Shred' on alternate days, with running in between, and one day off a week.  I will be using the 'Get Running Couch to 5k' ipod app to help me with this. The DVD takes just 20 mins, and the running 30 mins.  Achievable even with a young family.  It also avoids the need for gym memberships for those of us without the time and/or money to take this option.

If you would like to join in, leave me a comment with your blog URL and I'll give you a mention and include you in a future post.  Surely, sharing a little blog love helps us on the way to feeling fabulous ?

At a very basic level that's my plan to tackle the 'fit' part of Fit, Foxy & Fabulous, and my progress to date. More details, and progress updates will follow on future posts, but in the meantime, thanks for dropping by :-)

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Fit, Foxy & Fabulous...

...and 41, that's me.  Erm, not quite.  The 41 bit is true but as for the rest...

I don't know about you, but I feel far from this most days.  Let's consider each one for a moment.

Fit - I am positively unfit.  It might only be 9 weeks since I had a c-section to deliver Moonbeam but it doesn't excuse the fact that I feel sluggish.  With a baby and 2yr old Star to contend with this is not helpful.  What's more summer is rapidly approaching meaning fewer clothes and more flesh on display.  I currently have way too much flesh to put on display.

Foxy - I don't know about you but I find that a sluggish body seems to infect my brain, leaving me with my now also sluggish mind.  I need to reclaim my sharpness, my wit, my confidence and let that spring sunshine infiltrate the sleepy, shadowy recesses of my mind.

Fabulous -  Surely a fit, healthy, trim body and a bright shiny mind makes you feel fabulous?  Well, almost, but I'm thinking a bit of pampering, polishing and me time should put the cherry on top.  What kind of pampering and polishing makes you feel fab?

Over the coming weeks and months I will be embarking on my fit, foxy and fabulous adventure.  It won't be a quick fix but instead I will endeavour to find a new happier, healthier lifestyle that is sustainable with a young family and all that it demands.  I will be sharing my successes and failures, and hints and tips here so if you feel in need of some fitness, some foxiness or some fabulousness why not join me?  I would love to hear your own ideas on what works for you.

The destination should be amazing but we can enjoy the journey too, so come on, climb aboard!

If you would like to join in, leave me a comment with your blog URL and I'll give you a mention and include you in a future post.  Surely, sharing a little blog love helps us on the way to feeling fabulous ?

PS Follow me on twitter and look out for #fitfoxy&fabulous updates

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Gallery - Togetherness

March 2010 - Togetherness

I am very concious that living as I do 160 miles away from my family it would be easy to allow my boys to grow up not really knowing their wider family.  I would hate this to happen, as I have many fond memories of time spent with aunts, uncles and cousins as a child.  So, since Star was born I have made a point of going to visit for at least one week in six, and he also stays with my sister for holidays, allowing the hubby and I to indulge our sun worshipping passion.

This photo was taken in Devon by my mum on a Sunday morning outing and shows Star with my sister and my two nephews, all of whom he adores, and they adore him.  And that makes my heart sing.

This post is for Week 46 of The Gallery: Togetherness.