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(Blood) Sugar High


There comes a point in every woman’s pregnancy – typically around the start of the third trimester – where she is subjected to a 10 fluid ounce sugar drink then poked with a needle one hour later. This rite of passage for the pregnant woman is the gestational diabetes test.

According to the American Diabetes Association, 18% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes. It occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin to process the glucose in your blood, leading to high blood sugar levels.

What makes you at a higher risk for gestational diabetes [Source: National Institute of Health (NIH)]?

  • Having a family history of diabetes.
  • Maternal age.
  • Being overweight before pregnancy.
  • Having high blood pressure.
  • Previous pregnancies where you had a higher than normal birth weight baby or were diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

How do they screen for gestational diabetes?

  • Your urine is tested for sugar levels during your regular prenatal visits.
  • Between 24 and 28 weeks into your pregnancy, you will be given a sugary drink to consume in 5 minutes or less followed by a blood test one hour later – note this is not a fasting test. The sugary drink tastes like a soda that has lost all it’s carbonation. Mine was orange, but I’m told they also come in several other flavours including cola. I had heard horror stories about this drink and was really dreading the test, but it really wasn’t as bad as others made it out to be! A small (non-pregnancy) related tip regarding blood draws: if you bruise easily or simply find having your blood taken uncomfortable, request the “butterfly” needle. It’s smaller (typically used on infants) and has made all these blood tests much less pain with little to no bruising for me.
  • If you test positive from the one hour test, you will be required to do a three-hour test fasting test first thing in the morning.
What does it mean for me and my baby if I have gestational diabetes?
The Mayo Clinic notes that pregnant women can help control gestational diabetes by eating right and exercising, followed by medication, if required. Women with gestational diabetes tend to be at a higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes 5 to 10 years after the birth, but blood sugar levels typically return to normal right after the birth of the baby. Gestational diabetes cause babies to be born at a high birth weight due to the greater levels of insulin production causing the build up of fat and can increase the risk of childhood obesity [Source: NIH]. The high birth weight can also cause complications during delivery, sometimes requiring a cesarean.
So eat right, exercise and hope as you’re chugging that soda like a hummingbird that you pass the test. But if you don’t try to go easy on yourself, talk to your doctor and determine how best to manage your gestational diabetes because at the end of the day what you really care about is the health of that little person you’re growing inside of you.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. 08/12/2011 11:43

    I had the orange flavor, also. I kind of liked it.


  1. All About GD | Adventures in Baby

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