Gestational Diabetes UK
Gestational Diabetes UK is here to help and support anyone with gestational diabetes or those who would like to know more about the condition. To share information, experience, evidence based research, advice and tips on ways to better control and stabilise blood glucose levels through dietary and lifestyle changes (some of which are contrary to the typical NHS dietary advice).
About Gestational Diabetes UK
(about me - the author and group founder)
Hi my name is Jo, I'm 37 years old, married and a Mum of two beautiful boys. I'm from Cambridgeshire, but now live in the beautiful Scottish Borders. I have PCOS and endometriosis and so I have been blessed with my two miracle 'sugar babies' and have a third on the way! (Due Sept 2017). I'm not a medical professional and have no medical qualifications at all. I'm a Mum, just a Mum.
In July 2014 I was pregnant with my second baby and half way through my second very long gestational diabetes journey (I was diagnosed at 10 weeks). I was fed up with searching for other Mums in the UK with GD, surely there were a few out there, my clinic was packed, yet I didn't actually know any other Mums with gestational diabetes, or anyone who had it in previous pregnancies.
I used Facebook a lot and so it seemed natural to search for support in that domain. I joined some American Facebook GD support groups and their advice and info was so different from what is advised in the UK. The foods and snacks were not things that were available to buy here, they use a different measurement for testing blood sugars, tested for ketones daily and talked about stress tests?!
I looked on other websites for chat forums on gestational diabetes, but couldn't find anything that offered much support or knowledge. So I decided if I couldn't find a group, it was time to create one for the UK & ROI and Gestational Diabetes UK Facebook support group was born!
The group started off small but it grew rapidly. There was an obvious need for a UK support group and I found lots of Mums struggling along, just as I was. The biggest shock was to see so many differences in medical practice all over the UK, I'd presumed it would be the same all over - how wrong was I?! It was obvious that we had so many unanswered questions over things and so that's when I started researching gestational diabetes in much more detail.
We learnt lots through the growing members experience, plus all the research I was doing. There was an obvious lack of support and advice for Mums with gestational diabetes and in many areas the dietary advice was extremely lacking or in fact, detrimental to the condition.
Many ladies were being put on medication and/or insulin, when actually had they been given better advice, they could've carried on with dietary control for longer and possibly throughout their whole pregnancy.
The next step was a group for ladies to join for when they'd had their babies as we noticed that people didn't want to leave the GD group, but it was becoming over run with posts regarding all things new baby. This is when the 'Life After GD UK' support group was born. This is a group for any of our GD Mums that have had their baby/babies, but still want to catch up, discuss post birth diabetes testing and all things new baby.
A year after creating the original Gestational Diabetes UK Mums group and helping over 1,000 Mums in the UK & ROI, I decided it was time to reach out to more people, in the hopes of spreading some more awareness.
One of the big issues we saw being posted in group was that partners, family and friends did not understand gestational diabetes and would say things like "you can just have a little piece of cake, it won't hurt you". It upset many Mums that their nearest and dearest could not understand how serious gestational diabetes can be and the complications it can cause to the baby, with comments such as "but it just means a bigger baby".
I created a public Facebook page for Gestational Diabetes UK in the hopes of creating an area where partners, family and friends who couldn't see the information in the closed group could find out a bit more about gestational diabetes.
The Gestational Diabetes UK Facebook support group has now seen well over 4,000 Mums join and pass through! Something I would never have dreamed of when starting my little group in search of others like me back when I was pregnant!
I have to say Thank you to my wonderful Facebook admin team, without you ladies I couldn't keep it running. So Thank you xx
Also a huge thank you to my husband Gavin for being a wonderful father to our sugar babies, for all his support and patience since I started this mad venture! xxx
The next steps for Gestational Diabetes UK...
Reaching further - Many of the members feel like they would not have had the pregnancy or GD journey they had if it wasn't for the help, support and advice offered in the Facebook support group. You can read some of their comments on the testimonials page.
I have since continued to research gestational diabetes further and believe that it is time to move beyond Facebook and reach out to a wider audience. Especially as I know how little information and guidance is given to those who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes in some areas, hence launching the website (launched 30th September 2015).
I chose to launch a website over writing a book so that I could constantly update and refresh the information, keeping on top of research and data.
The website has been a huge learning curve and gamble, especially as I have very little IT skills or knowledge, but with the help of YouTube clips and lots of researching online, I seem to have managed to cobble something together that is working OK?!
My members always asked for a 7 day meal plan and recipes to go alongside my knowledge of a GD diet that works and so that was my next step. I now offer 2 membership options, Bronze and Silver. This membership pays for the running costs of the website and small wage to myself as a stay at home mother, so that I can continue with my passion of researching and helping mothers with gestational diabetes. It also means I can have a website that is not ruined with pop ups and advertising banners.
Since launching the website I have also launched more social media accounts:
Twitter where I share information, raise awareness and try to challenge some of the issues ladies with Gestational Diabetes face
Instagram where I share recipes, food ideas, hints, tips and try to raise awareness for Gestational Diabetes
Pinterest where I share helpful links to the website and others that I feel may benefit ladies with Gestational Diabetes
I now have more and more hospitals advocating the website and Facebook support group to their mothers diagnosed with gestational diabetes and hope to improve working relationships and see more professionals come on board soon! I have worked with the media such as radio stations, ITV news and Channel 5 news when articles have been launched on gestational diabetes and the Public Health Collaboration who are a cause very close to my heart too.