Medical Memo: Getting Real about Gestational Diabetes & Postpartum Tips

Wellness is generally the state or condition of being in good physical and mental health, including  things like a balanced diet, exercise regimen and, for many new Mamas, a good ole’ fashioned break. But as we all know, focus on our own personal health can often fall by the wayside as we divert 100% of our attention (and concern) to our family.

Our bodies change after having a baby, thus it’s important to stay well-informed following your own unique pregnancy experiences. While I was not personally diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes (GDM), I know many women who have been (and the numbers are rising), so below are some useful tips on how to manage postpartum, from a Registered Nurse & Certified Diabetes Educator, Jessica Grady.

Grady, Jessica

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before, but who have high blood glucose (sugar) levels during pregnancy are said to have gestational diabetes (GDM). According to a 2014 analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of GDM is as high as 9.2%. We don’t know exactly what causes GDM, but we have some clues. The placenta supports the baby as it grows. Hormones from the placenta help the baby develop. BUT these hormones also block the action of the mother’s insulin in her body. This problem is called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance makes it hard for the mother’s body to use insulin. She may need up to THREE times as much insulin!

Gestational diabetes starts when your body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy (usually in late pregnancy). Without enough insulin, glucose cannot leave the blood and be changed to energy, so glucose builds up in the blood to high levels. While gestational diabetes can have negative effects on both you and your baby, these can be prevented with diet, exercise and sometimes insulin. After you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you are at increased risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes down the road.

Postpartum To Do’s: Preventing Type 2 Diabetes after GDM

  • Reach and maintain a healthy weight. According to the Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes, this means maintaining a BMI <25 or <23 if you are Asian American. Don’t know your BMI? Use the CDC’s free BMI calculator here. Try to reach your pre-pregnancy weight 6 to 12 months after your baby is born. Then, if you still have more to lose, work to drop at least 5 to 7% of your body weight and keep it off. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, losing 10 to 14 pounds can greatly reduce your chance of getting Type 2 diabetes later on.
  • Get Movin’ Mama! According to The Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and muscle strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms). The best and most sustainable exercise goals are ones that are realistic and attainable. So try to make this something you ENJOY and that works with your schedule, so you can stick to it. As always, consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.
  • Eat your veggies!…well sort of. During an age when there are more diets and information about food available than ever, believe it or not, the jury is still out on which is truly the best in preventing diabetes. Research has shown that a variety of eating patterns can accomplish this. So whether it’s plant-based (vegan or vegetarian), Mediterranean-style, gluten-free, paleo or some mix of all of these, pick one that works for you. Just make sure whatever you pick your body is getting the amount of calories it needs to gain, lose or maintain your weight (depending on your goals) and all the key nutrients, vitamins and minerals it needs to stay healthy and strong for you!

Featured Movin’ Mama: Jennifer

Meet Jennifer!

Barnes, Jennifer - Feature Photo 2015

Jennifer is a 31-year-old Movin’ Mama, living outside of Boston with her husband and two boys [ages 5 & 8]…and is expecting her third little guy in just ONE week! Jen is a hair stylist who loves to read or bake sweet treats for her family in her (limited!) down-time. We asked her how she’s Living Well today amidst the end of her 3rd pregnancy, and here’s what she said…

How do you typically start your day?

When I first wake up, I like to have a hot cup of coffee, make breakfast for my boys, and get them ready to head off to school. After that, I typically run errands and walk my 4th child, our dog Sampson (yes, also a boy!).

What was your exercise regimen like before you were pregnant this time around and how has it changed?

Before this pregnancy, I participated in competitive powerlifting. My training program was written by a certified lifting coach, Mark at Strength First Boston, which included 3-4 days of high intensity weight training per week.

Throughout my pregnancy, I have continued doing some safe, light weight training coupled with lots of swimming, up until recently as I’ve become too uncomfortable to do pretty much anything, let alone exercise. I thought I was going to be able to work out until the very end, but I’ve officially run out of energy!

Do you have any postpartum wellness goals planned ahead?

My #1 personal fitness goal is to compete at the RPS powerlifting meet in October 2016, where I will strive to perform a 300 lb. deadlift and a 225 lb. squat, which I have done in the gym, but never live in a competition.

I first have to get back into regular conditioning shape before I can start powerlifting again, so it won’t be until 3-4 months postpartum that I start training hard again. At 6 weeks postpartum, once I am cleared to work out by my doctor, I will start my initial conditioning work, which will include a lot of cardio mixed with weight training (burpees, pull ups, etc.).

Quite frankly, I’m not really sure exactly how I’m going to find time to reach these goals…with a newborn/third baby–it will be a miracle! But it’s something to work towards.

What do you do when you want to have “Me time”?

I’ve always considered exercise my special time, specifically my 60-90 minute powerlifting training I mentioned that is typically 3-4 times per week. When I can’t get to the gym, I like to read at night when the kids are asleep to unwind. A glass of wine also helps to relax of course (that is, when I’m not expecting).

How are preparing your two boys for the arrival of your third baby?

I have found that letting my boys ask the questions about the baby is best because so many other people ask them about it already.

But, we’ve told them that their brother will be giving them each a special “gift” for being his new Big Brothers, so we try to make it fun by brainstorming ideas of what their presents will be like so they will look forward to his birth.

What is one of your recent go-to healthy weeknight dinners?

Turkey Tacos, always. They’re so quick and easy, and we love using ground turkey breast.

SIDE NOTE: Check out this delish turkey taco recipe from abigmouthful.com that you can try at home!

Who do you lean on the most for your own emotional & physical well-being?

I lean on my husband and a close group of girlfriends. I mean honestly, who else would let me complain all the time?!

What is one piece of candid advice you’d like to share with other new moms regarding general wellness?

My candid advice would be that a Mama should always remember to take care of herself. If you’re not caring for yourself, it will be impossible to properly take care of your new baby and entire family.

It seems that many women feel guilty and completely put themselves on the back burner, which does nothing for their family. I am guilty of this too sometimes like everyone else, and remember that I need to take my own advice and take a break when needed!

Finish this sentence: Being a Mom has made me….

This is the hardest question you’ve asked me so far! Being a mom has made me STRONGER. HAPPIER. A better person overall, who has become more aware of things I never cared about before, like the quality of our local institutions and politics.

Executive Feature: Dave O’Brien, Founder of The Green Light

Meet Dave!

Obrien, Dave

Dave is the Founder and Director of The Green Light juice shop, based in various locations across the South Shore of MA. Dave currently resides in Duxbury with his wife, Rosangela and 23-year-old daughter, Mikaela. Outside of being an amazing Raw Food Chef, Dave enjoys spending time with his wife, growing wheatgrass, and playing cribbage.

For those who are unfamiliar, what exactly is The Green Light?

The Green Light is a Nutrition and Wellness company that provides the roadmap to optimal health for people looking to improve their current state of health through juices, smoothies, cleanses and educational classes. We are dedicated to providing the best in human nutrition to all who choose to visit us.

When and what inspired you to start your business?

It all started 10 years ago when my father was diagnosed with cancer, and I saw first-hand what conventional “medicine” had to offer. I felt that everything that they had done to “treat” him was wrong. It didn’t end well for my father. I then spent 8 years traveling the country learning from the best in human nutrition, and am convinced that nutrition is the best way to heal yourself and prevent all these so-called diseases from ever manifesting in the first place.

Since I changed my own life through nutrition 10 years ago, I now live in physical bliss every single second of every day, in a pain-free body. It’s amazing how I feel. I am now 50 years old and have never been healthier, and I have my blood work to prove it.

What would you say are the top health benefits of juicing for new mothers in particular?

The top health benefit of juicing for new moms (and for everyone) is that it will help to deliver oxygen to the human cell. The most important nutrient in the human body is oxygen; every cell in the human body is always seeking it. The more oxygen present in your blood, the more energy you will have. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have lots of energy!

Which juice combo is your personal favorite right now?

My favorite juice combo right now is a 2 oz shot of wheatgrass, followed by a 2 oz shot of ginger, and then a 24 oz “Green Light” specialty. The Green Light consists of spinach, kale, celery, cucumber, apple, cilantro, lemon and lots of ginger. It is delicious and it’s a great way to start my day. My body looks forward to it every morning!

Where can we find The Green Light shops today?

The Green Light is located in Massachusetts, in Cohasset, Duxbury, Hingham, Marshfield and Pembroke.

Huge thanks to The Green Light for sponsoring our upcoming Wellness Workshop on October 24th where juice samples will be provided to participants as a pre-workout treat! 

Featured Movin’ Mama: Sarah

Meet Sarah!

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Sarah is a 29-year-old Movin’ Mama currently living in South Boston with her husband & 8-month-old baby boy. This gal not only works in Real Estate, but has actually made Wellness her business, literally as an indoor cycling instructor downtown. We asked Sarah how she’s Living Well today, and here’s what she shared…

How do you typically start your day?

My son wakes up around 6:30 AM, so when he is finished eating, he plays and watches Mickey Mouse Club while I catch up on emails. If it’s a Thursday morning, I am out the door even earlier to make it The Handle Bar where I teach the morning class!

What does your weekly workout regimen typically look like?

I teach indoor cycling twice on Tuesdays and once on Thursdays. On Mondays and Wednesdays I weight and circuit train with my husband. We like to think of it as a date!

What has been your biggest challenge with wellness both physically and emotionally since the birth of your son and how are you overcoming it?

I would say my biggest challenge physically is learning to love and accept my new post-baby shape. Some days I feel great about my body, strong and proud. And other times I can be very hard on myself and get discouraged at my progress. My husband constantly reminds me to be nicer to myself, and that I grew a human in there for 9 months!

Emotionally, I’ve found it difficult to really find that delicate work/life balance. My job as real estate broker can be high-stress and fast paced. I am constantly on my phone or computer, always running to a showing or a meeting, add a baby to the mix and things can get quite crazy! Lately, I have been trying to dedicate one or two full weekdays to just one-on-one time with my little guy. I think the jury is still out on whether or not women can have it all – a fulfilling, successful career and also raise a family.

What do you love most about being a new mom so far?

I love watching him learn and discover new things. The look of pure joy, and true, genuine happiness that overcome his face is the most amazing feeling in the world. Last week he started standing on his own for 5-10 seconds at a time. He is so proud of himself when he does new things like this. He makes me want to be a better person.

What are a few beauty products you cannot live without right now?

  1. Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray. I can get great 2nd or even 3rd day hair with this miracle product!
  2. Decleor Hydra-Flora face moisturizer
  3. My Enzo Milano hair wand – a couple little twists with this bad boy makes a huge difference!

What are some wellness tips you’d like to share with new Mamas?

Plan “Me time”. Whether it’s an hour walk outside alone, an exercise or gym class, a facial or a nice lunch – it’s important not to forget about doing things that make you happy.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! As a new mom it’s our instinct to nest, and to want to be in control of everything that has to do with your baby. But sometimes, handing over the reins might be exactly what you need. If your friends or family offer to help, LET THEM!

And lastly, be nice to your partner. They can feel neglected once baby arrives. As important as “Me time” is, “us time” is up there too. A solid, supportive partner only makes you a better Mama!

*Register for our upcoming Wellness Workshop on 10/24 for some “Me Time”!

What is one of your recent go-to healthy meals at home?

I grew up on the beach and learned to fish from a very early age. So seafood was a staple in our diets growing up and still is. I probably make shrimp and fish more than chicken. I always keep a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer. I throw them in a pan with some fresh veggies, toss it with some olive oil, garlic, shallots and a touch of white wine and put it over some brown or wild rice. You have a simple, healthy and quick meal in under 15 minutes.

*Check out one of Sarah’s favorite shrimp dishes from Mesadevida.com!

What do you do when you want to have “Me time”?

I book a facial or a massage!

What’s your biggest wish for your baby?

My biggest wish is that my son finds a “profession” or a “career” that he LOVES and is passionate about. My best friend Jessica (owner of Handle Bar) inspired this answer. She is successful because she genuinely loves what she does and loves the people she works with, and has chosen to surround herself with. I don’t think many people can say that.

I found this quote and shared it with my class not too long ago, “I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Luke warm is no good.”

Anyone special you’d like to thank for helping you through parenthood so far?

Without question, my husband Ryan and my mom. Ryan and I were total rookies. At first we couldn’t believe they were even letting us leave the hospital with this tiny living creature. We were terrified. But, we learn something new every day. It’s important to remain a team, and not to forget to have fun and laugh.

And my mom is my hero. She stayed with me for a month after Liam was born. She cooked, she cleaned, she loved, she supported. She let me figure out those first few weeks on my own as a new mom, but comforted when needed. She sat with me for the around the clock feedings, made me persevere through breastfeeding when all I wanted to do was give up. If I can be half the mother she is, I will count that as a victory.

Featured Movin’ Mama: Rachael

Meet Rachael!

Rachael Family Pic

Rachael is a 27-year-old Movin’ Mama living in Boston with her new fiancé (CONGRATS!) and their 7-month-old daughter. When she’s not Planning Merchandise at TJX (which sounds pretty great BTW!), she’s kickin’ it at the beach or zen-ing through home decor. We asked how she’s Living Well today, and here’s what she said…

How do you typically start your day?

I typically start my day around 5:30 AM when Penny wakes up for her morning feeding. I bring her in our bed to nurse her and get my morning snuggles in and then we get up for work/day care. My fiancé is a firefighter with a varied schedule, so I am very fortunate to have his help keeping Penny entertained on his off days.

On days he has to leave early for work, it’s definitely a balancing act. I’ve found that preparation and timing are key, so I always prep her bottles and pick out her outfit the night before then I wait to put her clothes on until right before we walk out the door (learned this from one too many “wardrobe malfunctions”). My real key to success, though, is ALWAYS leaving enough time to stop at Dunks for my morning iced coffee!

What is your favorite kind of workout right now?

I feel like I barely have quality time with Penny these days with work and all of the summer weekend showers, weddings, etc. so my favorite workout is walking/jogging with her in the jogging stroller.

We have a great park right down the street, so we try to go as a family two nights a week and on weekends. Round trip it is about 3 miles, so it’s the perfect distance for me right now. I was an avid runner up until I was 7 months pregnant, but Penny was born during the first blizzard this winter and I felt like I couldn’t find a routine since I absolutely was not willing to leave her to go to the gym (and still won’t).

7 months later and I’m just starting to feel like I’m getting back to myself. It’s a slow process and one I really didn’t expect to be so challenging physically and emotionally, but I am feeling stronger and more confident every day.

What is one of your recent go-to healthy dinners that you like to cook?

One of my favorites is stuffed peppers (click for recipe from Eatingwell.com!) with ground turkey, brown rice, mushrooms, onions, a little shredded cheese and lots of cayenne pepper and garlic.

Joe is an amazing cook and loves to test his firehouse recipes on me, so I am very lucky when it comes to being well-fed. When he works overnight, I usually eat hummus and carrots or cereal because I’m too busy making sure Penny isn’t eating anything hazardous or crawling down the stairs…so I totally feel for stay-at-home moms, although the SAHM Diet sounds like a good way to fit into my skinny jeans again.

What do you do when you want to have “Me Time”?

When I want “Me time”, I go for a mani/pedi. I have a standing appointment every 2 weeks and even though it’s only an hour or so, I always come back feeling refreshed and better about myself. Getting my nails done was one of those luxuries that I felt guilty about keeping when budgeting for a new baby in our lives, but to me, it’s worth the splurge. I feel more put together when I take care of my appearance, plus I like to think of it as treating myself.

Can you share a couple of your fitness goals for the coming year?

I just got engaged last week! So, my biggest fitness goal right now is to be able to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight by January 2016, which will be one year since Penny was born. I want to feel 100% confident when I go try on wedding dresses, so the pressure is definitely on to lose those last 15 lbs.

I started doing the Bikini Body Guide by Kayla Itsines this weekend, so another goal is to stick with the program for the full 12 weeks. I have been taking pictures and periodically trying on my “skinny jeans” to track my progress. If anyone else is doing it, let me know how it’s going!

What has been your biggest challenge with wellness since the birth of your daughter and how are you overcoming it?

The biggest challenge I’ve had is finding a workout routine I can stick with so I don’t have to sacrifice time with Penny. Before I had her, I could go out for hour long runs or go to the gym after work and it didn’t make a difference to anyone.

Now, I have a tiny human relying on me for their meals. There’s no way I’m going to let my daughter cry it out at home when she’s hungry so that I can work out. On the other hand, I know that my wellness is key to my own happiness and will in turn make our family happier.

Now that I have her routine down and she’s eating solids and nursing less often, I have felt more comfortable with taking time for myself. I put a lot of pressure on myself to exclusively nurse, get back to my pre-pregnancy weight immediately, and work full-time, but I have to keep reminding myself to be patient and celebrate the small wins each day.

Who do you lean on most for support when it comes to wellness?

I lean on my fiancé a lot because he knows when to push me and when to sort of back off and let me do my thing. He is more disciplined than anyone I know so I know that if I tell him I’m going to do something, he will hold me to it.

What do you love most about being a new mom so far?

I love everything about being a mom, but my favorite part is watching her grow and develop before our eyes. It seems like every day she is learning something new and it makes life so much more exciting! It is especially rewarding to watch her grow as a nursing mother, because it’s been such a challenge on so many levels physically and emotionally, but the payoff far outweighs any of the obstacles.

Seeing her face light up and those chubby little legs kick with excitement when she sees me at the end of a long day is the best feeling in the entire world.

What is one piece of candid advice you’d like to share with other new moms regarding general wellness?

Be patient with yourself. Like I said before, I expected to snap my fingers and have my old body back, become a pro at the work/life balance, hang out with my girlfriends whenever and never miss an event, and all while having perfectly manicured nails.

I can admit that I still strive toward those goals, but I am more realistic about what I can take on. The most important thing is doing your best to make sure your baby and family are happy and healthy and the rest falls into place when it’s supposed to.

Featured Movin’ Mama: Jenny

Meet Jenny!

Burke, Jenny - Feature Photo - September 2015

Jenny is a 35-year-old Movin’ Mama residing in Denver, CO with her husband and two children [ages 3 yrs. & 9 mo.].  As a Nurse Practitioner of Dermatology, she is constantly on-the-go, between her career, family, pets and passion for running! I asked Jenny how she’s Living Well today, and here’s what she said…

How do you typically start your day?

Typically I start my day with a run, sometimes even before my kids wake up. Other days, my alarm clock is one of the kiddos around 6:30 AM. Every day is different now, as I have a very flexible job since moving from San Diego to Denver last year. I appreciate structure, so I struggle a bit now with every day being different, but I’m trying to embrace change.

What is your favorite form of exercise now and when do you prefer to work out? 

Running…I’ve been a marathon-runner since college and I love it! Mornings are best for me…it makes me a better mom getting my run in early, plus if it’s done then I don’t have to think about it all day. I typically prefer to run alone or with friends, but sometimes I’ll run with the kids. I just like running as my “Me” time!

What is one of your recent go-to healthy snacks when you’re on the go?

I love Kind bars, Luna bars, and shakeology.

Have you had to streamline your beauty routine since having a second baby?

Nope, I’ve always been very low maintenance! I will say I pull my hair back more these days but 5 minutes of makeup is all it takes for me.

What has been your biggest challenge with wellness since the birth of your last child and how are you overcoming it? 

BALANCE. I struggle with the guilty feeling of leaving my kids. I know breaks are good, but I feel guilty.

What do you do when you want to have “Me” time?

Run and walk our dogs. Exercise is my favorite kind of “Me” Time. It truly makes me a much better parent!

Finish this sentence: “Being a Mom has made me…”

COMPLETE. I cannot imagine my life without the two best things that ever happened to me!

How did you prepare your first child for the arrival of your second baby?

Books and talking about the new baby. We are lucky as he was so receptive to his baby sister. It was an easy transition for our family.

What is one piece of candid advice you’d like to share with other new moms regarding general wellness?

Take time for yourself. Without “Me” time, I would be a terrible and less-patient Mama!