Pregnant Veg 12: Pregnancy as a Medical Event?

I wish I had a doctor who knew at least as much about nutrition as I do.

Dumb Doctor

Since I got the diagnosis of gestational diabetes, I have been in a brooding mood.

Frankly, I feel very skeptical about the diagnosis. I have not gained weight excessively, had mood swings, strange lack of energy, any of that stuff. I’ve also not had the sick feeling that comes along with a blood sugar spike.

Raised by the Savvy Vegetarian, I grew up learning to monitor my own internal state, and to make dietary and lifestyle changes in order to keep on an even keel. I’ve gotten pretty darn good at it by now, and have warded off many a cold with a nutrition rich meal and an early night.

So when all my internal sensors tell me I’m doing great, but the doctor tells me I’m not – well, the internal sensors have a longer track record.

Then self doubt pipes up and wonders if I’m not in denial about it. What if I’m feeling so skeptical because I really, REALLY dislike the idea of having any complication to this pregnancy. I don’t want to take any chances. So I will go to the diabetes class, consult the specialist, monitor my blood sugar, end my love affair with potato chips, etc.

I mean, with two months to go, it’s not much of a sacrifice to guarantee a healthy baby, right?

But I don’t like it. And I think they’re wrong about the diagnosis. I think the three hour test they did to get it is possibly the most stressful, unnatural treatment my body has received since my college drinking days (before I learned that it is much nicer to just drink half the bottle of wine/6 pack, and as a bonus, you will have some left for another day).

As a pregnant woman, I consider going without breakfast to be utterly irresponsible. Then to drink a giant dose of sugar on the same empty stomach is just stupid. I don’t even drink soda. Ever. Heck, I can make a quart of fruit juice last a month.

Next, to give four vials of blood in such a stressed state strikes me as a bad decision. And then to wait until eleven am to eat anything at all – Dumb dumb dumb!

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But this is how they test you for gestational diabetes. Pfft! I would never do such a rotten combination of things to myself. Certainly, the way I felt at that point doesn’t reflect my natural state of health.

Given my love of chocolate and chips, you might think I’d be accustomed to sugar rushes. But I’m not. I have a limited grocery budget, and junk food comes last on the list, if there’s any money left.

So the bag of Sour Cream and Cheddar ruffles has to last all week, and the Mint Chocolate M&Ms will stretch to two weeks. The ice cream I might buy in the same shopping goes untouched until I’m all out of M&Ms – and then it lasts a month between two people.

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Compared to the average American diet, where breakfast consists of an energy drink and a roll of donuts, my junk food habit looks almost nonexistent. So might it not follow that it would take my body a few hours to overcome this giant, unprecedented sugar dump? My blood sugar was still normal by the end of the three hours. It was only the middle two that were elevated.

I will have to ask the doctor.

And there’s the root of another gripe. In all of this medical supervision, I feel like a product on a conveyor belt. I show up in the doctor’s office. I pee in a cup. They weigh me, take my blood pressure, listen to the baby’s heart, measure my belly. And they volunteer NOTHING about all this fussing.

I have to ask what I weigh, for pete’s sake. I have to ask what my blood pressure is, and if that’s good or bad. I have no idea what they’re doing with all that pee. I have no idea what all tests they’ve done with all the blood they’ve taken.

I just know I’m doing OK because they would tell me if something came back abnormal. Then they would shuttle me off for more tests which they would also not explain. As if this is not all about me. As if this is not MY health we are monitoring here. As if I am not the most important person to keep in the loop.

I have been managing my own health quite well for a long time, and now I feel like a passenger in the most important health/life event to date. I am paying for this why?

Next time I go to the doctor, I would like to hear something about my pregnancy I didn’t already know. I wish I had a doctor who knew at least as much about nutrition as I do.

In fact, I wish they had started with nutrition and stuck to it. I didn’t realize that all pregnant women are glucose intolerant to some degree. It wasn’t in What to Expect When You’re Expecting. The doctor never mentioned it. I had to read about it online – after the diagnosis. It would have been a good bit of information to have. It would have influenced my food choices.

And really, you are what you eat. If you’re making a baby, they are what you eat. I would say that nutrition is THE most important aspect of pregnancy. The fact that my Obgyn has so little education in that area in really upsetting.

Basically, she knows what normal pregnancy looks like, and how to tell if mine’s not. She’s probably a darn good baby catcher, and can keep me from dying in childbirth – something I appreciate, or I wouldn’t keep showing up in her office. I would, after all, prefer not to die in childbirth. Bryan would be upset.

But excuse me, what about preventing things from going wrong in the first place? What about keeping me in the loop and educating me so that I can participate in making this go smoothly? What about some in-depth information about food choices that prevent complications?

If I look at it that way, I have to wonder if an Obgyn is really qualified to supervise a pregnancy. Not that I’m going AWOL, mind you. Having chosen to go the medical route, I’ll see it through. Next time, though, I’ll probably be looking for an alternative route. Anyone know a good midwife in Missouri?

Read Part One: Close Encounters Of The Medical Kind

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4 Responses to “Pregnant Veg 12: Pregnancy as a Medical Event?”

  1. Lisa says:

    A physician may know a lot, but not everything. I AM a physician, if that has any credence. Plus, if you have questions about nutrition and pregnancy, a dietician is a better person to talk to, as they are trained in this discipline specifically.

  2. Mary W says:

    I feel for you. I am 35 weeks with my 3rd child. My previous 2 pregnancies I was also gestational diabetes. I was healthy, normal weight, no family history, etc. I wasn’t given a choice of diet and exercise with my first 2. I was 4 and 5 months along when I started on the insulin shots. This time around I was diet and exercise, glyburide and have been on insulin now for 7 weeks. Even after all these years I feel my body has let me down again for this last baby. At the end of the day, I am doing what I have to do to ensure a healthy baby. That is the most important thing.

  3. Maida Aviad says:

    I can understand how upset you are about the medical model your ob is following. The test you had is standard for gestational as well as regular diabetes. There must have been some signs before they did that test, either sugar in your urine or a simple blood test. As an RN and a vegan who strongly believes in preventative medicine via healthy living, I also know there are times when we have to rely on traditional medicine also. Sometimes our bodies just react in ways that are unexpected and we need the help of physicians. If I were you, I would stop being so upset with the doctor and start adjusting your diet to eat as healthfully as possible. No more chips, m&ms, or ice cream – just fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, seeds and nuts. Both you and your baby will be healthier for it and your blood sugars will normalize.

  4. Jennifer Z says:

    I so feel for you!!! I had my first child with an OB/GYN and every single minute with the Dr I felt like livestock! It was awful! I can assure from having the next two with midwives and both born at home …. there is NO better way to truly enjoy a pregnancy and the life it creates. With the middle one, my husband was very concerned about the lack of medical intervention, to the point that he had an RN on stand by should a need have arisen. It was beautiful, spectacular, enriching, loving and more! Check out your options for the next go around … you won’t be disappointed.

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