Sunday, May 13, 2012

What happens to the female body during pregnancy...

I write many of my blog posts late at night after my husband and baby are in bed.  I started this blog since I am increasingly experiencing these late nights.  It is giving me something to do without waking the entire house.  As I progress further along in my pregnancy (28+ weeks at the moment), going to sleep is becoming difficult.  I have gestational diabetes and must eat a snack before bed to prevent my blood sugar from becoming too low when I wake up.  It's a vicious cycle.  I have to take medication because my blood sugar gets too high in the morning without it.  My medication makes me prone to having low blood sugar in the middle of the night so I have to eat something to prevent that.  As the placenta gets bigger, the hormones released by the placenta causes my body to become more "insulin resistant."  This means that my body has to produce more insulin (or I have to get it through medication) to keep my blood sugar low.  If my blood sugar is too high then I run the risk of having a large baby.  Giving birth to a 10-pound baby doesn't sound too appealing to me at the moment so I am trying hard to keep my blood sugar low.  I check my blood sugar 4 times a day and strictly monitor the amount of carbohydrates that I eat.  I also keep myself reasonably active.  I am not overweight (I had a pre-pregnancy BMI of 22.5 [18.5-24.9 is considered normal]) and watch what I eat yet I still developed gestational diabetes.  The lifestyle modification is difficult but worth it considering at my 26 week appointment, I had only gained 9 pounds.

Sorry for straying a little bit off the topic at hand but since I eat that snack before bed, I have to remain upright or I get terrible heartburn.  I can't eat my snack too early in the evening or my blood sugar dips too low in the morning.  I stay up late to remain upright (I could never comfortably fall asleep sitting upright) and when I'm ready for bed, it's usually time for me to go to the bathroom.  If it isn't the heartburn, it's the urgency to go to the bathroom that keeps me awake at night.

I found some interesting websites which show how a growing baby may impact a mother's body.  The first is from the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.  I've been to this museum back when I was in college and think it's cool that they're putting more interactive things online.  It is neat to watch your bladder get compressed by the weight of the growing uterus and the intestines and stomach get squished.  This explains the frequent trips to the bathroom and copious amount of TUMS (calcium carbonate) that I must take.  Sadly, my TUMS has become a welcome "treat" in my day since it is the closest to candy that I can get due to the diabetes...  Another link points out the hormone progesterone as being responsible for relaxing the esophageal sphincter which further exacerbates the heartburn.  UGH!  It is also cool to think that I am literally growing a new organ (the placenta) which is responsible for all of these crazy hormones.

Pregnancy is a fascinating experience.  It is amazing that I am growing another human being in my body.  In my previous pregnancy, I focused a lot of the stages of embryonic growth rather than learning about what is happening to my body.  This time around, I am more acutely aware of the changes my body is going through.  It makes you appreciate the fine balance mother nature has achieved in maintaining a healthy pregnancy.

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