Support Groups for Gestational Diabetes
Diagnosed with gestational diabetes? You can find practical and emotional support from other women in the same situation.
By Connie Brichford
Medically Reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
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Getting a diagnosis of gestational diabetes adds an extra level of stress to your pregnancy. Many women find that other women who have been there are the best source of gestational diabetes support, providing comfort and practical advice.
Julie C. of Colorado was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during her pregnancy with her first child 11 years ago, and again during her second and third pregnancies. She developed type 2 diabetes after her third baby was born. Julie is now expecting her fourth child, and says, “I think that it’s important for everyone to hear stories. It was helpful to me to connect with others who have it.”
Tiffany Silitonga of Indiana is expecting her second baby, and also dealt with gestational diabetes during her first pregnancy. Meeting other women online helped her not to worry. “I remember the biggest comfort for me was talking to other women who had gestational diabetes, but now had healthy babies.”
Gestational Diabetes Support: Practical Advice
Julie says that while your health team can give you guidelines about living with gestational diabetes, women on forums she used can recommend specifics to make life easier. “This is how you learn practical things, like which yogurts are low-carb.” Julie says this kind of day-to-day advice is valuable. “This isn’t something your doctor always has time for or even knows about,” she says.
Julie used an insulin pump during her third pregnancy, which is unusual in gestational diabetes. Julie credits her connection with her online source for practical advice in making this happen. “I got a lot of advice about how to get my insurance to cover the pump, and how to get my doctors to fill out the forms so that the insurance company would accept my claim.”
Gestational Diabetes Support: Perspective
The best thing gestational diabetes support from other women can do is give you perspective. “Knowing when to truly freak out,” Julie says, “that’s a perspective you get from other women. Some diabetes educators will try to scare you, if your blood sugar is too high just one time.” Other women, she says, can tell you when you should be worried and when you can relax.
Silitonga echoes the thoughts on perspective. “If you’re in the high-risk category, it’s very scary. Doctors have to give you the worst-case scenarios, and I understand that,” Silitonga says, “but it’s nice to meet other women who heard that too, and didn’t have the worst case happen to them.”
While these communications with other women can be reassuring, you should always keep in mind that any advice you get from them should not substitute for your doctor’s knowledge and advice. If in doubt about something you hear from a support group or online, always check it out with your doctor or a diabetes educator.
Gestational Diabetes Support: Emotional Support
Most women can control their blood sugar through diet and exercise alone, so when Silitonga found out that she would have to start taking insulin shots, she was not happy. “I was terrified of going on insulin. I thought that it meant that I was a failure.”
But Silitonga remembers that the other women on the Web site had a lot of supportive advice. “They convinced me that insulin is a necessary tool, and it doesn’t mean you’re lazy,” she says. The women were even able to reassure her about her fears of the shots being painful.
Gestational Diabetes Support: Online Options
There are many online options available, so if the first site you visit isn’t a good fit with your personality and style, keep hunting.
- The American Diabetes Association has a message board just for women with gestational diabetes.
- Social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace each have several gestational diabetes groups that you can choose from, where members post their questions and comments.
- Everyday Health has a support group that focuses on diabetes and pregnancy.
If you can’t find a group you like, start your own, or start a thread on the message board of your favorite parenting or health site. Other women with gestational diabetes may be reading.
Gestational Diabetes Support: Online vs. Live
- Live groups are not easy to find.Julie and Silitonga were able to find online support pretty easily, but neither knows of a live group in her area.
- Online groups give you access to a wider range of experiences.Silitonga falls into a high-risk category with her pregnancies. She doubts that a live group, limited by geography, would really be able to understand what she was going through or have much advice to offer. “I’d be the only one who needed insulin in the group,” Silitonga says.
- Online is less personal.Julie says while she was able to get what she needed from the online forum, other women might not feel the same way. “Many people are comfortable face to face, so for them, online might lack something in the emotional area.”
You don’t have to go it alone when you have gestational diabetes. You’ll find that even talking about it with someone else will make you feel better. And with all the resources available to reach out to others, it’s easy to make the connection.
Video: Gestational Diabetes and Reducing Your Risk for Developing Type 2 Diabetes
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