Monday, February 4, 2008

Gestational Diabetes: A Book Proposal

I am preparing a book proposal to submit to a publisher of informational health books. My working title is “Gestational Diabetes: What to do if you have it, and natural ways to reduce your chances of having it in the future”. This is the sort of title I wish I could have found in the library during my third pregnancy and in preparation for my fourth pregnancy.

It came as quite a shock when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes in the third trimester of my third pregnancy. I had always exercised and had excellent nutritional habits. I was 29 years old, had never been overweight, and had no family history of diabetes.

Now I had to follow a special diet. I roamed the aisles of the food store for over an hour that first week, studying food labels and shaking my head in dismay at my limited choices. I made up a spreadsheet, upon which I diligently recorded everything I ate. I took my blood sugar upon waking and after each meal.

I was given a book with dietary guidelines, but many things I had to find out on my own. I soon noticed certain foods were causing my sugars to be elevated. Tomato sauce and rice were the main culprits. I learned how to make my own tomato sauce, and avoided rice. I also realized that if I made my own oatmeal cookies I could have one with a glass of milk without causing my sugars to go up.

My nurse practitioner was pleased at the recorded blood sugars. My son was born a day before his due date, completely naturally, at a weight of 9 lb. 13 oz.

My first child was 7 lb. 6 oz.; second child was 8 lb. 13 oz. “Does this mean if I have another child he or she will be 11 pounds?” I asked my NP at my postnatal checkup.

“Not necessarily. But you should know that the woman’s body is made to be able to deliver that size baby no problem.”

“Is there anything I can do to prevent having gestational diabetes in the future?”

“Not that I know of. But your sugars were in such good control that I wonder if you ever did have it in the first place.”

I looked in vain for a book that would address the prevention of gestational diabetes. Nothing. I did find little bits on GD in various pregnancy books, and scoured the internet for the original studies. What I did find were several correlations suggesting a diet high in fiber and magnesium, among other nutrients, as well as exercise, tended to lower a woman’s chances of contracting GD.

I went with the information I had in preparation for my fourth pregnancy. When I mentioned the data I had gathered, my NP said she wasn’t sure if it would work, but it would not do any harm to be circumspect in my diet. She did say magnesium was excellent as a preventative for several pregnancy related disorders, and was surprised it was not included in my prenatal vitamin.

My file was red-flagged as “high risk”. My NP informed me that she would be sending me for an early sugar tolerance test. Assuming the worst, she had me skip the one-hour and go straight for the three-hour test.

Now during this time I was avoiding all refined sugars, baked goods, and prepared foods. I was eating a high-fiber diet, complete with lots of vegetables, whole-grains, protein, and some fruit. My fear of GD was high enough to keep me in complete control. I actually found that my appetite was fully sated and I had no food cravings whatsoever!

It was wintertime, so I took out several exercise DVDs designed specifically for pregnancy. One had me dancing to salsa music. It was fun, and I felt good! Weather permitting, the kids and I went for a daily one-mile walk around the block after school.

I passed the first test at five months, and the second test at seven months. My baby was a healthy 8 lb. 3 oz. Amazingly, within a week of delivery, I was only ten pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight!

My book will outline what I learned through my own personal experience, and will be heavily documented with methodologically sound research.

I am looking to incorporate the experiences of other women out there who found ways to deal with their GD naturally, and/or who were able to have a subsequent pregnancy without contracting GD. Any correspondence would be kept completely confidential. Any details that could be provided will be helpful. Age, race, number of pregnancies, other risk factors, and pregnancy outcome (health of baby and mother, weight of baby, etc.), are some important details.

Correspondence may be sent to me at my personal email address.

Find out about “The Mystery Painting at Hampton Court” here.

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