If you’ve ever had a baby then you remember getting tested for gestational diabetes. This occurs at your prenatal visit around 28 weeks. If you haven’t made it to 28 weeks yet, it’s coming. The nurse will hand you a nice sugar infused drink (ask for the orange one, its not bad) and have you chug it in about 5 minutes. BTW if you have a cool midwife, she will let you eat jelly beans instead of the “sugar soda”. Then you get to wait for an hour before we do some blood work to see if you pass or fail. If you are lucky, your blood sugar is under 140 and you are free and clear! If you are unlucky, your blood sugar is over 200 and you are immediately diagnosed with gestational diabetes. You’re also unlucky if you fall between 140-200 because this means you have to come back in a few days for a 3-hour glucose tolerance test.
This time you are required to fast for 8 hours, or overnight, before the test. You will have your sugar checked before you chug the “sugar soda” and then every hour afterwards for 3 hours. After the 3 hours is up you will be deemed gestational diabetic or not.
What’s it means if you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes:
- Gestational diabetes occurs in 2-12% of pregnancies.
- The pregnancy hormones that your body is making cause you to use insulin less efficiently
- Your pregnancy will be monitored closely to ensure both you and baby are healthy
- You may need oral medication or insulin. You may be able to manage your diabetes with diet and exercise
- You will need to monitor your blood sugars four times a day
- These women are at risk for developing diabetes later in life b/c this indicates that your pancreas can not keep up
There could be a lot of negative effects on you and your baby if you do not manage your blood sugar well during your pregnancy. For example, your baby could be very big because he/she received extra sugar from you. This could lead to the baby getting stuck during delivery (super super dangerous), or could cause a lot of extra ripping and tearing when you push baby out (Ouch!!). The baby can also be born with a list of other problems and require staying in the NICU. So yes, big babies are cute, but when they are too big because of unmanaged diabetes it can go bad really bad, really quick!
It is also absolutely possible to have a healthy happy pregnancy and baby with gestational diabetes. You just have to be vigilant in following your provider’s recommendations with diet, exercise, glucose monitoring, and medication regimen.
After your baby is born we will re-check your glucose with another “sugar soda” test at your post partum visit. Hopefully it is normal again and you can go on with life, maybe making healthier choice so we don’t have to have this conversation in the future J
From your friendly neighborhood nurse