Everything you need to know about gestational diabetes

Near the end of your second trimester your provider will schedule you for your gestational diabetes test. The test involves drinking an incredibly sugary drink, and getting your blood drawn one or two hours after. Some women think the sugar liquid tastes like candy while others have to choke it down; but no matter how it tastes … it’s important that you take it. Before scheduling your appointment to take a glucose test, here is what you can expect.

This sweet, yet syrup-like drink is intended to measure your body’s response to glucose (sugar), which is used as a screening test for gestational diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), gestational diabetes is a condition where a pregnant woman’s body cannot properly regulate glucose levels in their blood which can lead to their blood sugar being too high. This is being caused by the placenta and fortunately, it should go away after the delivery of the baby and removal of the placenta.

It is important to detect gestational diabetes early on so that you and your provider can properly monitor it. Gestational diabetes can lead to complications such as high birth weight in the baby, potential preterm birth, birth trauma, and serious injuries to the birth canal during labor. These can lead to long-term health problems for both mom and baby. Scheduling this test around 26 weeks will help mom and baby maintain a healthy pregnancy.

For this diagnostic test, you be given a two-step test. The first is the one-hour test which is a screening test. If your test is negative then you do not have gestational diabetes! If it is positive it does not mean that you have gestational diabetes, only that more information is needed. Women who have a positive one-hour test take a more sensitive three-hour test to confirm or rule out the diagnosis of gestational diabetes.

The one-hour test

You will drink a very sweet glucose drink, which typically tastes like a flat soda. After drinking it, you will wait for one hour then have your blood drawn and tested for glucose levels. If your levels are too high, you will have to take the three-hour test. You do not have to be fasting for the one-hour test.

The three-hour test

This test is performed in intervals. You will have your blood drawn when you first arrive. Then you will drink a liquid with double the sugar of the one-hour test. After that, you will have your blood drawn again every hour for a total of three hours. This test will diagnose gestational diabetes depending on how high your blood glucose levels are in your blood stream.

Didn’t pass your glucose test?

It’s estimated that about two to 10 percent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes. Should you test positive, your provider will most likely set you up with different treatments to help lower your blood glucose levels. This could range from diet and exercise to insulin. You can help yourself by setting up a healthy eating plan that limits your carb intake and adding in more whole grains and fruits. You can also start lightly exercising for at least 30 minutes a day to prevent complications from gestational diabetes. If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes make sure that you monitor your blood sugar and take any medication as your provider prescribes.

As always, staying on top of prenatal visits with your obstetrician can help monitor gestational diabetes. If you have gestational diabetes or other risk factors, you may be referred to a maternal-fetal medicine physician, a doctor who specializes in high-risk pregnancies.

The team with UofL Physicians – OB/GYN & Women’s Health is here to help with every step of your pregnancy. To schedule an appointment, call 502-588-4400.