Pregnancy is a time of great joy for a mother-to-be! It is also a time in a woman's life that could be a bit overwhelming. There are regular doctor's appointments, where the pregnant woman undergoes different types of testing in regards to her health and the health of her unborn baby. One of the most important tests that will be performed is the pregnancy glucose test. This is one of the steps in checking for gestational diabetes, which occurs when the placental hormones cause a rise in blood sugar. Many women have questions regarding this test, including what it is for, why it is necessary, and what happens if they do not pass.
What is the Pregnancy Glucose Screening For?
When a woman is pregnant, her doctor will typically recommend the glucose screening to check for gestational diabetes, a high blood sugar condition that affects some expectant mothers. Since gestational diabetes rarely has any other symptoms, this test is important in order to determine if a woman has it.
There are risks associated with gestational diabetes. Just a few being the mom having high blood pressure and risks of preeclampsia. There's possibility of having a large baby with broad shoulders (shoulder dystocia) and this can cause issues during delivery, potentially leading to NICU care.
Remember, that a positive result does not always indicate gestational diabetes! If you test positive on the glucose screening, your doctor will perform the glucose tolerance test, which will tell you definitively whether you have gestational diabetes or not.
If a pregnant woman is found to have high glucose levels, keep in mind that while they normally return to normal after delivery of the baby, you may be at increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
Is it Safe?
Yes. Talk to your doctor about any concerns. The web can be amazing with the amount of information it offers, but also it delivers much mis-information from all kinds of sources. The small amount you drink, the testing and science behind it, has shown this is a safe and important way to ensure you are healthy and especially your baby.
When is the Test Performed?
Although the glucose screening test is usually done sometime between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy, a doctor may recommend that it be done sooner. This is especially true if a woman is at high risk for diabetes or if you have high levels of glucose in your urine during early prenatal appointments. The test may also be done early if a woman is overweight, has an advanced maternal age, or has delivered a large baby in the past.
For the test, you won't be required to change your diet. You will be given a liquid to drink that contains glucose (it might taste like a flat orange soda), and your blood will be drawn approximately one hour later. If your glucose levels are too high, you will be asked to come back for the glucose tolerance test.
Tip: Make sure that drink is cold so you can down it easily! You'll have to finish it in five minutes and also won't be allowed any other drinks or food during this duration of the test. Book the test for early morning and it's a helpful idea to eat a good dinner the night before so you won't get too hungry.
How To Stay Healthy
As we all know, it is important to stay as healthy as possible during pregnancy!
It's amazing that just walking during pregnancy can manage your blood sugar levels. Make sure to eat a rainbow of nutritious foods. Sweet cravings are okay, but balance them with your walks and healthy foods for baby and mom.
Even if the test is negative, you still need to monitor what you eat and limit your sugar intake. It is essential to consume whole grains, lean proteins, vegetables, and foods that slowly release sugar. Your doctor can provide detailed information regarding the best foods to eat, and whether it is safe for you to exercise.
It may also be recommended that you consult a nutritionist. Managing your blood sugar is vital for your health and your unborn baby.
What if the Glucose Test is Positive?
If the glucose screening test and the tolerance test are both positive, you may be prescribed an anti-hyperglycemic medication to help control your blood sugar. Insulin injections are also common in treating gestational diabetes. It is important to monitor your blood sugar throughout your pregnancy. You'll do this by pricking your finger with a tiny needle first thing in the morning and an hour or two after meals to test your glucose levels. Although this may be slightly uncomfortable, remember that you are doing it for your health and for the health of your baby.
When managing your blood sugar levels during pregnancy, it is important to know which symptoms may indicate high blood sugar. Call the doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Extreme thirst
- Blurred Vision
- More frequent urination than normal
- Extreme Fatigue
Your doctor will provide you with the necessary steps to take, and may refer you to a specialist in order to control your blood sugar levels.
As many as 18% of women experience gestational diabetes during pregnancy. This condition can increase the chances of delivering a baby that weighs more than 9 pounds. It can also increase the need for a cesarean section, as well as raise the risk for preeclampsia.
By controlling gestational diabetes, you can go on to have a healthy pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby. Make sure to communicate any questions or concerns with your doctor. He or she can best advise you on how to manage your glucose levels during this time.
If you are at the time of having a glucose test or have passed this time, then you're more than halfway towards the end of your pregnancy! Now is the time to go over your Third Trimester Checklist and stock up on comfy nursing tanks and nursing hoodies for when the baby arrives!
Keep going, mama! You're doing great!