Diagnosing Gestational Diabetes
Around your seventh month of pregnancy, you will take a blood glucose test. You may have heard a great deal about the special drink—specifically, that it will make you sick—but for most women, it’s not a big deal. It’s not yummy, it tastes like a flat soda, and it can cause some nausea; but if you drink it quickly, you should not have any problems.
An hour later, your blood will be drawn to check your glucose levels. Though fasting is not necessary for this test, avoid starchy and sugary foods, as they can throw off the results. If your blood test comes back negative, you likely will not have to worry about gestational diabetes again. If your levels are considered high, you will be given another lengthier test that will require fasting to determine whether or not you have gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes affects around 18% of pregnant women. A diagnosis does not mean you had diabetes prior to your pregnancy, or that you will suffer from diabetes after you give birth. It just means that, for whatever reason, the very same hormones that help provide your baby’s nutrients have made you temporarily insulin-resistant.
That does not mean, however, that gestational diabetes is something to be taken lightly. What can that mean for your unborn child? Your increased levels of glucose will pass through the placenta to your baby, causing your baby’s pancreas to also work overtime. After birth, your baby will have too much insulin, making it likely he or she will suddenly have too little blood glucose. And, of course, there are risks for delivery. With all the excess glucose while in the womb, the baby is at risk for macrosomia, or “fat baby.” Large babies are harder to deliver, and they may face trauma to their shoulders or may have to be delivered cesarean, according to the American Diabetes Association.
If you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, do not assume you will have to face the above consequences. With proper treatment, gestational diabetes can be controlled, and you can enjoy a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Once diagnosed, treatment should start right away. It will definitely involve a special diet and planned physical activity. It may also involve frequent blood tests and insulin injections, according to the American Diabetes Association. This can be a burden when you’re craving sweets, or you’re so tired you barely have the energy to get through the day, let alone exercise; but it will greatly improve your health, as well as your baby’s. And remember that, as always, you will have the support and encouragement of your medical team.