November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and, when it comes to preventing and managing the disease, Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington offers a wealth of helpful resources. Whether you’re living with diabetes or want to reduce your diabetes risk, you’ll appreciate this story about one patient’s experience. Good Shepherd Public Affairs and Marketing Manager Erin Abbey introduces us to a Lake Zurich mom who says lifestyle changes after her diabetes diagnosis have her feeling healthier than ever.
A Patient’s Perspective on Gestational Diabetes
by Erin Abbey, Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital Public Affairs & Marketing Manager
When Jessica Brens of Lake Zurich started feeling dizzy and lightheaded at the beginning of her first pregnancy, she had a feeling something wasn’t right. She came to Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital to get her blood glucose levels checked. It wasn’t until a second test she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
According to the American Diabetes Association, gestational diabetes occurs when a pregnant woman’s body is unable to produce the right amount of insulin and therefore leads to high blood sugar levels. Unlike what the statistics have shown for women who have a higher risk factor for gestational diabetes, Brens was not overweight and had no history of diabetes in her family.
Brens said she considered herself a healthy person at the time and “didn’t think it could happen to me.”
Virginia Menzimer, a diabetes nurse educator in our Diabetes Care Center works to provide patients with answers and guidance to manage their gestational diabetes and was particularly helpful to Brens during her pregnancy.
“Most women with gestational diabetes that come into our Diabetes Care Center are a panicked with valid concerns about healthy blood glucose levels, developing a better meal plan, and the need for increased physical activity as tolerated,” Menzimer said.
“I never felt any questions were silly,” Brens said. “There were times I found myself worried or stressed, but I knew I could call Virginia at any time and she always had helpful advice.”
Daniel So, MD an endocrinologist at Good Shepherd Hospital says that most women with gestational diabetes give birth to a perfectly healthy baby by following these important steps throughout the pregnancy:
• Keep blood glucose levels in target range that is healthy for you and the baby.
• Eat healthy meals based on an individualized plan which usually includes a balance of food groups, providing nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
• Engage in daily, moderate physical activity to maintain a healthy weight during your pregnancy.
Dr. So says Gestational diabetes patients need to keep a log of their blood sugar four times a day.
“We closely monitor their sugars to make sure they are having a health pregnancy and their baby will be healthy at birth.”
Gestational diabetes typically disappears in the mother immediately after they baby is born. However, Dr. So says babies of mothers with gestational diabetes tend to be bigger in size and do have a predisposition for diabetes later in life.
Although no one wishes to have Gestational Diabetes, Brens learned a lot from her experience. The majority of mothers with gestational diabetes will go back to normal blood sugar levels immediately after birth. Even though this was the case for Brens, she decided she was going to continue to watch her sugar intake.
“I feel the healthiest I have ever felt in my life,” said Brens. “After having to eat a certain way and monitor my sugars through my pregnancy, it has now become a part of my daily lifestyle.”
About the Author
She works on getting the word out about all the wonderful news and accomplishments at the hospital as well as community events and activities.
Erin recently relocated from Chicago to Palatine where she lives with her husband, two young daughters and her dog Kallie.
She enjoys exploring new restaurants, practicing yoga and pilates, reading as much as possible and attempting to keep up with all the news on social media.