Gestational diabetes mellitus - a nuisance or opportunity for growth?
Gestational diabetes mellitus - a nuisance or opportunity for growth?
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a condition affecting women during pregnancy where the pancreas does not produce insulin adequately, leading to higher than normal blood sugar levels. Despite the advances in medical research and various pharmacological supports, GDM is now considered to be in epidemic proportions, leaving health professionals and governments alike struggling for answers on how to best manage a disease that shows no signs of abating. Similar to other parts of the world, current rates in Australia are around 10% and even up to 30% for high risk groups. Clearly this situation is calling for a more comprehensive approach to pregnancy care and moreover, the state of women’s overall health and wellbeing so that we can better understand the interlinking factors involved.
The implications of GDM stretch way beyond the pregnancy and childbirth period for mother, child and ultimately, society as a whole. Obstetric complications are highly likely if this condition is not well managed and far more frequent monitoring during the pregnancy becomes mandatory as does extra surveillance during and after the birth. GDM can impact the fetus, potentially leading to more difficult births, unnaturally larger birth weights and the risk of newborn hypoglycemia (low blood glucose levels). Longer term, it’s well established that at least 50% of women with gestational diabetes diagnosis will have Type 2 diabetes within 10 years. Also, babies born to mothers who have Gestational diabetes mellitus are at far greater risk of developing diabetes themselves later in life.
In maternity units the resistance and denial this condition in pregnancy causes is obvious.
Women can struggle to come to terms with a gestational diabetes diagnosis as their last treat – i.e. sugar – has now been taken off them too, after everything else they have had to already forego (alcohol, smoking, late nights, blue vein cheeses etc.) as part of pregnancy care.
Sugar is in the vast majority of our convenience foods and curtailing sugar consumption hits hard, especially in a world where the current generation of pregnant women were mostly raised under the perception that fatty foods are the bad ones to watch out for, not sugar. It can present as a rude shock to have this convenient belief up-ended. Occasionally the resistance to the need for high levels of vigilance around diet is so great that women will just ignore the diagnosis and others will 'forget' to test their sugars as they simply don’t want to know... until they can no longer ignore it.
When we experience a drop in energy, we usually have a corresponding craving for stimulation with sugar a regular ‘go-to’ for many people. It’s widely known that sugar artificially speeds the body up. Sugar causes a huge release of dopamine, a ‘feel good’ chemical in the brain, and in time this creates an addiction. It’s the perfect storm to fuel sugar dependence and a multitude of problems in addition to GDM in its wake, including obesity, early aging, and tooth decay, to name but a few.
It seems like we actively contribute to the deterioration of our health (through so called normal eating habits or normal/moderate alcohol consumption). For example, drinking a couple of glasses of wine each day to take the edge off is considered moderate consumption of alcohol and yet research repeatedly shows that there are both short and long term negative effects from drinking alcohol. This silent normalisation of the abuse of the body fosters us to live and relate under the influence of stimulating substances, including raising our children to drink as part of their ‘rite of passage’ into adulthood despite knowing that alcohol related violence is one of the biggest issues we face in society. The rise in caffeine consumption and the sugar cycle rush is not dissimilar. The huge increase of diabetes not only in pregnant women, but in the general population, is evidence of this. Instead of eating healthily and taking care of their bodies, people appear to prefer to have their cake – but not keep their own limbs.
How does this possibly make sense?
Natalie Benhayon, founder of Esoteric Women’s Health, practitioner and presenter on promoting health from within, notes that there is a constant inclination to heal because there is an innate knowing that there is a harmony and joy naturally available to us all. The problem is when we use the mind’s intelligence rather than our whole-body intelligence, what we reach for in order to ‘heal’ or medicate ourselves with can become the greatest form of harm.
When we eat the sugary food or drink the couple of glasses of wine it is not because we want to poison the liver or harm our body, but because we are looking for reprieve from the tension of the day (a form of medication).
As Serge Benhayon so simply exposes, the fact is that modern life has brought us great technologies, medicine, mobility, living conditions, education, capacities to face natural disasters, etc., yet has not changed the quality of our relationships with ourselves and each other, and particularly our relationship with our bodies.
Through our chosen behaviours, i.e. the way we communicate, eat, walk, relate, work, etc., we dim down the awareness we have through our body and avoid a deeper connection with ourselves and others. We avoid our very own internal stillness and the honesty and transparency we could live with ourselves and others.
Many women are drawn to pregnancy as they are offered the quality of stillness they normally don’t hold in their body. Knowing who we are as women from a position of inner stillness opens doors to a whole new dimension of ourselves that has previously been lost from our understanding of who and what we are. Furthermore, stillness is deeply satisfying and does not need any form of stimulation, whether by sugar, salts or any other foods, drinks or activities.
But being offered stillness can be a challenge because when pregnant, a women’s body offers stillness; the woman is being asked to stop and feel in her essence her Sacredness for nine months. Every woman feels this and can either surrender to what is being offered or resist it. Our bodies and state of health will mirror our choices. Yet the reality is that even amongst women who have connected with their stillness during pregnancy, most, due to aligning to roles, images and ideals, initiate a movement away from stillness after they have given birth.
Standing in the way of your essence
The benefits of knowing there is an essence and that you can connect to it is already an amazing reward in itself.
- What gets in the way of us being in our essence?
- And once we connect to our essence, why is it so hard to stay there?
The ability to live your essence without being moulded by all the things that are not who you truly are is known as the livingness.
So why do women in pregnancy feel that so many things, all the treats, are taken away from her, when in truth she is offered access to a beautiful quality within her body?
‘Pregnancy’ has been hijacked and has been made about a condition that brings us a baby; an identification, a desire, fulfilling a need. It is lived either in its functionality of getting the end result, or in the essentialism of becoming a mother as the ultimate identification of being a woman – hence the focussing on and finding satisfaction in the natural aspects of bearing and feeding a child. Little is lived from a deeper connection to a womanly quality in one’s body; a woman’s sacredness that is undeniably the quality of the woman and is not tied to motherhood.
When becoming a mother, our body goes into a state every woman should ideally be in on a daily basis so as to live in and by her full expression... A pregnancy acts as a reminder of the quality we all innately are from. Hence, it is fully understandable that it is a massive challenge for women to embrace their stillness, and even deeper, their sacredness, because nothing in society ever supports this quality. That’s also why women consider that something is taken away from them and why the craving for sweet stimulation can be hard to control even though the end result may be a gestational diabetes diagnosis.
So what do we turn to when all other ‘reward’ and ‘look forward to’ foods have been removed from the diet and the final go to for comfort or relief – sugar – can’t be ‘it’ anymore?
Instead of resenting the condition, what a timely opportunity it presents to journal our feelings, face our exhaustion, and get to know ourselves in a more intimate way. Many women have never paused to consider themselves and their connection to life in this way before. But growing greater self-awareness, fuelled by a sense of curiosity and wonderment towards their bodies, not only supports the obvious pregnancy growth; it’s also a revelatory gateway for women to explore and re-discover what lies within – the sweetness of their true essence.
"The more we know about our true essence, the more we can come back to who we really are."Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings & Revelations Volume I, ed 1, p 249
It’s time for an overhaul of how we approach pregnancy care by and for all women, especially those at risk of developing, or experiencing, gestational diabetes. Given the links studies have also found between exhaustion/poor sleep/depression and the increased use of sugar in insulin resistant populations, a ‘getting to know and nurture yourself’ program to support women before this disease can get a grip makes sense.
Let’s also incorporate within pregnancy care a way to support women to deeply value bodily connection as a pathway through which they can return to stillness and an appreciation of their sacredness. When women gradually come to know themselves in the quality of their sacredness, pregnancy care takes on a whole new meaning. Then let’s see what happens to our spiralling rates of gestational diabetes mellitus: in fact, it could offer a valuable complementary approach in addition to what Western medicine offers for the overall management and prevention of GDM.