The Q to the A...An informative Interview with Lisa Taylor on Gestational Diabetes...

I've been meaning to post this interview for a while on Gestational Diabetes with the lovely Lisa Taylor

Here goes...(Ps that Mango Lassi to the left looks amazing!) Check out the recipes on Lisa's site.

Firstly congrats on your beautiful website and success in the media, how did the website come about?

Thanks! I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) in 2009 while pregnant with our son. It was a really rough journey. I went from feeling awesome and in the prime of my pregnancy, to being diagnosed with diabetes overnight and having to watch everything I ate, drank and thought about eating or drinking! At the time I was just trying to get through it. But post-pregnancy, I just kept coming back to the thought that surely eating with GDM didn't have to be that depressing. There had to be some delicious meals you could eat!? So I started researching and sure enough, I discovered that basically no-one had taken the time to develop a recipe resource because most health practitioners think the period a woman has GDM for is really short. Sure, it can be for around 14 weeks, but that adds up to about 300 meals which all have to adhere to the strict diet. So I partnered up with a fantastic accredited practising dietitian who reviews all the content I write and I started adapting and creating recipes that I love, but for the GDM diet. I also feel that the mental health side of the GDM experience is almost entirely overlooked in the health system. So we have a section with interviews with 'Other Mothers' who've had GDM in the hope that their stories inspire or normalise what many other women are going through. We get around 10,000 visit a month from all around the world and lots of heartwarming and encouraging feedback weekly. I'm really proud of what we've started. 

Can you tell us a little bit about gestational diabetes? And why a specific diet is necessary to keep it under control? 

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a (usually) temporary form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. It happens when the hormones made by the placenta during pregnancy make it harder for your insulin to work. Insulin is a hormone that helps process your food and keeps your blood glucose level stable. If you can’t make enough insulin your blood glucose levels will rise. High blood glucose levels can cause the baby to put on too much weight and this can impact on the baby’s wellbeing and your delivery, and can affect the baby’s health later in its life. The whole premise of the GDM diet is to moderate your fat and carbohydrate intake, two things which make it harder for your body's insulin to breakdown glucose in your blood. The idea is to eat the same amount of carbs at roughly the same time of the day to keep your blood glucose levels stable. It really is surprising to discover how much carbohydrate we are actually eating and drinking. I was shocked and definitely have a much better understanding of nutrition because of GDM. The other part of the GDM diet is exercise. You are encouraged to exercise for half an hour, twice a day. I would walk in the morning and in the evening and I have never been so fit in my life! 

When you found out you had gestational diabetes, how did you feel? 

I was completely floored. Similar to what many women say, I had been eating well and exercising quite regularly so why me!? There was no diabetes history in my family and I was 31 years young. I went through a cycle of emotions common to most women diagnosed with GDM. First there was shock, then denial, then guilt, then anger and then depression. Looking back I would say that I didn't feel like I received individualised care from my hospital. It was routine, thorough and rigorous but I was never really asked how I was doing emotionally. Each week I would present my finger prick blood test results and my food diary and be told I had one more week to get my numbers into line before I'd have to inject insulin. In hindsight, I wonder if this was simply a tactic to keep me on track. I felt afraid and worried most of the time because of this threat and the dietary restrictions. But I am proud of myself that I kept up the diet and exercise and came out the other end with a healthy and happy baby. 

What advice can you give pregnant ladies with gestational diabetes? And how can your site help them besides the yummy recipes?

I would suggest they read our factsheets on Understanding GDM and Eating Well before going to their first appointment. 

It should get you thinking and generating questions you can ask your diabetes counsellor - it's really important to begin your journey with GDM from a place of enquiry and education not from fear and misinformation. The faster you can move from shock, sadness and sorrow to action, motivation and inspiration the better off you will be. 

Read some of our 'Other Mothers' interviews learn how other women have gotten through it all. And then finally, make a big cup of tea and sit down for half an hour and flick through our delicious recipes and see all the yummy things you will be able to eat. Personally I would also suggest women think about the benefits of joining GDM forums or chat sites (on baby blogs or Facebook). I feel like there is a lot more chest thumping and tear-jerking than positive messages. You have diabetes, you will get through it, now move forward. Sure, you won't be able to eat a slice of banana bread everyday of your pregnancy but there are some big payoffs like; laying the foundation for good nutrition for your children, changing your eating habits for the better and staying fit during pregnancy and beyond. I try to think that I'm lucky that I was given a heads up that that I am at-risk of developing type 2 diabetes in later life. I've been given a chance to do something about it now, rather than when it's too late. 

What are the fears relating to birth and GDM? How was your birth experience?

I think there is a fear that your choices will be taken away from you, but my experience was positive. My son was 10 days over his due date (which was the limit at my hospital as there is a higher risk of still birth with GDM pregnancies) and the midwives tried 3 different forms of induction (a balloon catheter, the gel and breaking my waters) before they moved me across to the labour ward where I ended up having syntocinon (induction with synthetic hormones). Despite that, the midwives from the birth centre came with me to the labour ward which made me feel right at home. Following the labour, my baby and I had our blood glucose levels tested and the GDM went away (as it usually does) in the 24-48 hours post labour. 

So glad you had a positive experience. Lastly, whats your favourite piece of inspiration for pregnancy & birth? A quote, an affirmation, a thought?, something that helps to get you through the challenges.... 

I think the proverb, 'This too shall pass' must have been created specifically with mothers and mothers-to-be in mind! For me it's a really powerful reminder in both good and bad times.

Thanks so much Lisa. Ladies if you want to check out some really yummy recipes and great up to date information on Gestational diabetes, pop on over to Lisa's site.