The Gestational Diabetes Test: What to Know Ahead of Time
You’ve probably already heard about gestational diabetes, a condition that affects roughly 18 percent of women during pregnancy. You might think it sounds scary, but I’m here to assure you that the test is kind of no big deal, and that that living with gestational diabetes—as long as you are being treated and monitored by a good doctor—doesn’t have to be so bad.
First of all, gestational diabetes is kind of an equal-opportunity issue—it seems to crop up in all kinds of women, and is especially fond of us ladies over 25; those who’ve previously developed gestational diabetes; overweight or obese women; moms who have a family history of diabetes, and women of Asian, African-American, Hispanic, or Native American descent. So, yeah, that’s a whole lot of us, and that’s why all expecting moms get routinely checked between 24 and 28 weeks into their pregnancy. Those women with higher risks for it will likely be tested earlier.
But what’s the gestational diabetes test like? Here’s the rundown: Your doctor is going to have you drink some super-sweet syrup, then an hour later (hint, bring a juicy book to read), they’ll take a sample of your blood to check your sugar levels. If they’re elevated, you’ll probably need to have a three-hour glucose tolerance test (again, make sure that book is good!), where, after you’ve fasted, they’ll draw a bit more blood, and have you drink more glucose solution. Then, they’ll take blood samples at one hour, two hours, and finally three hours after drinking the solution.
So what if you’re diagnosed with gestational diabetes? What does that mean for you and baby? Well, if ignored, gestational diabetes can lead to you having to have a C-section because babies from mothers with the condition are often abnormally heavy at birth, and they often have a low blood sugar level once the umbilical cord is cut. The good news is that you’ll already be in the care of your medical team who can help guide you through the fairly simple ways to manage this. If your levels are super high, the doctor might prescribe insulin injections, but in milder cases, you’d just need to exercise a bit more, cut down on the sweets, and monitor your blood sugar more frequently. I know, parting with cookies and cakes for a while will be tough—but just know that the gestational diabetes usually goes away after moms give birth, and you’ll soon be reunited with your favorite sweet treats. Mmmmmm