For most pregnant people, gestational diabetes is something you know vaguely about, are tested for, pass said test, and don't have to worry about again unless you have another child, at which point the cycle will likely repeat. However, for approximately 18% of expectant mothers, that test will come back saying that they have, in fact, developed gestational diabetes (GD). Well crap, you guys. Now there's a lot to learn and a lot to do and a lot of things moms with gestational diabetes are tired of hearing.
The good news about GD, such as it is, is that once you know you have it, you can adjust your diet and work with your health care provider to manage it and, as a result, it probably will not cause any significant issues for you or your baby. (Hooray!) The bad news? It's annoying. So, so, so annoying. You get used to it, but in my experience you don't really get used to how annoying it can be, at times. Expectant moms are, usually, worried about a bunch of stuff that really doesn't matter; when you have GD you get to fret about all that stuff, plus figuring out why your blood sugar was 116 when you woke up on some random morning.
You also get a little weary, I found, about explaining gestational diabetes to everyone else. Honestly, it would be hard to explain anything you're barely getting a handle on all this and have been only reading up on for the last couple of weeks. The expansive majority of people who never have to worry about GD? They don't have a clue. That's fine, because why should they? However, their well-meaning cluelessness can often be a thorn in the side of many a GD mother, which is annoying because you're already getting poked with sharp objects on the daily. Here are some of the things pregnant women with GD find even more annoying than having to give up doughnuts for the remainder of their pregnancy:
"But You're Not Fat!"
More often than not, gestational diabetes has nothing to do with one's weight and much more to do with genetic and hormonal issues we don't completely understand yet. While "overweight" women tend to be at higher risk of developing GD, a great number of average weight or even "underweight" women will be diagnosed, as well.
"Maybe If You'd Lost Some Weight Before You Got Pregnant..."
Again, GD doesn't necessarily have anything to do with weight and also: WTF, seriously? Even if one's GD is a result of their weight (which would could never definitively know, just FYI) how is telling her what should could have done, months ago to maybe prevent it, be in anyway helpful? Like, "Oh, you're right. Let me build that time machine and tell me from 8 months ago to stop eating waffles." It's not helpful, it's just concern-trolling and passive-aggressive fat-shaming.
"Oh Just Have Some Cake! A Little Won't Hurt!"
Look, I know you're trying to be nice and give the person permission to indulge. There are times when indulgence is OK, to be sure. However, it's best to trust that the person with GD knows when it's time to indulge (and when it isn't) better than you do. Eating cake, even a little, will adversely affect one's blood sugar, which could, in turn adversely affect their child and very possibly their own health and delivery. No one wants cake to be OK all the time more than someone with diabetes, but that's just not the way it works, unfortunately. So please, just let it be, because your attempt at temptation is only rubbing salt in the wound.
"But Brown Rice Is Healthy!"
There are lots of "healthy" foods that are not healthy for people with GD. Brown rice, dried fruit, full-fat dairy, even beets (beets, for God's sake!) can spike one's blood sugar (which is not a good thing, you guys). So just because something doesn't seem overly sugary or "bad for you," doesn't mean that it's a good choice for someone trying to manage GD.
"You're Being Paranoid"
Most people know next to nothing about nutrition and fewer still know about nutrition insofar as it pertains to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Keeping a handle on one's GD, especially in the early days and when you're getting the hang of things, takes a lot of monitoring, label reading, and questions. To an outsider that can make a GD mom look finicky and paranoid. She's not. This is hard. Cut her some slack and trust that she's doing what's best for her.
"Should You Eat That?"
Don't. Just don't. Whether or not someone has GD, this is the worst. It's not your job to police what someone else puts in their body.
"I Could Never Analyze And Write Down Every Bite Of Food. Just Make Healthy Choices And You'll Be Fine."
I feel like people often say this in an attempt to show how woke they are when it comes to eating, body image, and nutrition. Honestly, though, it usually just comes across as condescending and smug.
Like I said, GD requires a lot of tracking, analysis, and constant learning. These things are necessary in understanding the disease. You can't just "trust the universe" to guide you on this one. Also? How someone else interacts with food is none of your business anyway, so just don't comment on it.
"Your Baby Is Going To Be Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge!"
GD can often result in larger-than-average babies (like my 9 pound 2 ounce little beasty, what what!) Their size can lead to health problems and birth complications. All GD moms are aware of the potential complications and most are pretty worried about it. So, you going on and on about how enormous their child will be is not cute and it's not helpful.
"Ew! Gross! Don't Prick Your Finger! OMG I'm Going To Throw Up!"
Monitoring blood sugar requires hundreds of drops of blood over the course of a pregnancy. (I just calculated, and I had to prick my finger approximately 400 times in the 14 weeks I had to manage GD.)
Believe me: no one dislikes this more than the pregnant woman herself, who no doubt feels like a human pin cushion five days into having to monitor her levels. And of course, we understand that blood, even a tiny little bit, can make people squeamish, so it's only polite to not make a big deal about it and be discreet. However, if you're out to lunch with a GD woman and she's scheduled to check her blood sugar, just suck it up and let her do her thing. If the sight of blood makes you woozy let her know, but be polite and don't make a big over-the-top deal about it.
Someone Else's Gestational Diabetes Childbirth Horror Story
It's not helpful. Again, she is probably nervous enough as it is and doesn't need additional stressors right now.
"Let's Go For Italian!"
Goddamnit, people. There is a special place in hell for those who would invite a diabetic person to a place full of delicious, delicious carbs she cannot eat. That's just cruel.