Gestational Diabetes Part III – After Childbirth, Finally Tackling Those Guilty Thoughts

Most women who have gestational diabetes are very quickly back to normal after childbirth. My sugar readings were still a bit high afterwards, but declining so the doctors and nurses were not concerned.  Yet after a couple of months I still didn’t feel quite right after meals.  Not horrible, just not quite right.

First I thought I was pregnant. A few frantic pregnancy tests later – nope, not that, whew!

Perplexed, I finally checked my sugar a few mornings and it was a bit high, nothing outrageous but creeping up there. This really bothered me.  It brought back a wave of feelings about not being as good of a mother as I should have been while I was pregnant and about not doing a good job of taking care of myself.

It was time to face both the facts and the feelings. Ugh…

Researching diet and exercise

Of course I went to the physical aspects of diet and exercise first – that seemed SO much easier that facing my thoughts and feelings.

I read Dr. Hyman’s book, The Blood Sugar Solution.  The book is a bit intense so I skimmed it, jumped between chapters and read it with a grain of salt (make that a whole shaker full).

I focused on the chapters about energy and soothing your mind. The science behind mitochondria health, adrenal function and insulin resistance is fascinating (in a very geeky way).

Taking snippets from the book, I swapped some foods – more organic brown rice and less processed, bleached carbs (my favorite kind) and I gave up caffeine. I still love coffee so I switched to decaf so that I can still enjoy a few sips of bliss in the morning before the day’s distractions take over and the coffee cools.  The switch to decaf was quite eventful – check out Grocery shopping with twins for the deets.

After a few weeks I checked my sugar levels again and they were improving. But the mental piece, that was tougher.

Using the 3P’s to reframe towards optimism

Using positive psychology, I focused on the 3P’s from Martin Seligman to move from a pessimistic to optimistic view.

Personalization: I was telling myself that the diabetes was my fault, even though medical professionals told me otherwise.  I worked to change this belief with positive thought loops.  I repeated simple thought strings when the guilty thoughts would appear, “It’s not my fault.  It’s not my fault.”

Pervasiveness: I was letting my supposed inability to remain healthy during pregnancy affect other areas of my life.  Could I be a good mother now?  Could I still do a good job at the office?  I worked to make the impact of the gestational diabetes seem much more specific, because it IS specific.  It’s a specific health item that required adjustments to diet and extra monitoring during the last 10 weeks of my pregnancy.  It required ONE specific feeding for one of my babies to help him regulate his blood sugar right after birth.  That was it.  Done and dusted.

All I had to do was remind myself that this part of our journey was over and has no bearing on my ability to be a good mom and of course had zero correlation (let alone causation) to my performance at the office.

Permanence: I needed to accept my feelings of guilt and defeat and recognize that they will pass rather than trying to pretend they didn’t exist.  I wouldn’t feel like this forever.  Gestational diabetes doesn’t last forever, in fact, it was already over.  It was THAT simple.  I just needed to recognize my thoughts and feelings and let them pass rather than ignoring or masking them.

I also acknowledged that having gestational diabetes was just one of many risk factor for developing Type II Diabetes later in life. It is NOT a predetermined fate.  This motivates me to eat healthy, stay active and do MY part to stay healthy and reduce the controllable risk factors.

The 3P’s can help with many experiences and situations. Sheryl Sandberg talks about how the 3P’s helped her process grief in her new book, Option B.

Giving thanks for gestational diabetes

Yes, you read that correctly. The biggest shift in mindset came from finding ways to be thankful for my experience with gestational diabetes.

It was the diabetes specialist who ordered a “just in case” blood test when my blood pressure was starting to creep up. She is the one who sent me to the hospital for a steroid shot to help my babies’ lungs grow, just one night before my water broke and they made their entrance.  I believe her monitoring and care made a HUGE difference in the health of my twins, especially their breathing abilities.

I don’t believe in fate but I do believe that God and Universe has your back. And I think they were watching out for me and that there is a reason that I went to see that doctor.  If it took having gestational diabetes and pricking my fingers 500 times in order to make sure that it would work out that way, that’d I prick my finders a million more times if that what it took.

After a few months, some of my food swapping stayed (items I actually enjoyed better or didn’t miss eating) and some slipped, but I didn’t feel odd after eating anymore and I didn’t feel guilty anymore. Acknowledging and tackling the 3P’s and a dose of gratitude did the trick.

Put another tally in the win column for positivity!


This is Part III of a series of Gestational Diabetes posts. If you found this post helpful, you may also enjoy Gestational Diabetes Part I – It’s Not Your Fault and Gestational Diabetes Part II – Diet Tips You Don’t Learn in the Hospital Class.

Editor’s Note: Leslie Michel is not a medical professional or dietician. The Blood Sugar Solution is NOT an appropriate for during pregnancy.  Gestational diabetes should be monitored and treated with the help of medical professionals.

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