The information provided below is just that- information. I am NOT a medical professional and don't pretend to be. All of my sources are linked or below. If you have any questions please contact your doctor.
Now back to our regular progamming:
One of the standard tests during pregnancy is a glucose screening, otherwise known as the 1-Hour Glucose Test.
This test is given to pregnant women as they enter their 3rd trimester. They are given a "glucose drink" of 50g of glucose. The drink is really sweet and tastes like flat soda. After drinking, they wait for 1-hour and then take a blood test to see how high the glucose levels are.
The "standard" range sometimes differs, but most practitioners have a set limit of 140 mg/dl or 130 mg/dl.
If your blood has a glucose level > than 140 or 130, it doesn't mean you have Gestational Diabetes, it just means that your glucose level is abnormal and you'll need to take the glucose tolerance test AKA the 3-hour Glucose Test.
During the 3 hour test, most women are told to fast for 8-12 hours before (no food, just sips of water). Blood is drawn in the beginning to get a fasting glucose level. Then a glucose drink of 100g of glucose is given. Then at 1 hour intervals, 3 blood samples are drawn (1, 2, and 3 hours after drinking). If the fasting sample is normal, than the 3 hourly samples are looked at. Most of the time if 2/3 of the samples are abnormal the woman is diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
Typical ranges are:
1 Hour <180
2 Hour <155
3 Hour <140
For comparison, my 1-hour test results were 183. My 3 hour results were 72 fasting, 220, 210, and 195 for the subsequent hours.
I was devastated. I bawled my eyes out. I thought the diagnosis was pretty much the worst thing that could ever happen to me and my baby.
After meeting with my dietician and an RN to teach me how to plan my meals and test my blood, I started to feel a bit more confident. It's true that most of what we fear is the unknown.
You can read more about my reaction and my bounceback here
So what is Gestational Diabetes?
According to information from BabyCenter.com:
When you eat, your digestive system breaks most of your food down into a type of sugar called glucose. The glucose enters your bloodstream and then, with the help of insulin (a hormone made by your pancreas), your cells use the glucose as fuel. However, if your body doesn't produce enough insulin – or your cells have a problem responding to the insulin – too much glucose remains in your blood instead of moving into the cells and getting converted to energy.
When you're pregnant, hormonal changes can make your cells less responsive to insulin. For most moms-to-be, this isn't a problem: When the body needs additional insulin, the pancreas dutifully secretes more of it. But if your pancreas can't keep up with the increased insulin demand during pregnancy, your blood glucose levels rise too high, resulting in gestational diabetes.
Most women with gestational diabetes don't remain diabetic after the baby is born. Once you've had gestational diabetes, though, you're at higher risk for getting it again during a future pregnancy and for developing diabetes later in life.
So in a nutshell, Gestational Diabetes occurs when your pancreas can no longer keep up with the insulin needs of your pregnant body, due to all the extra hormones created by the placenta.
As with most joys of pregnancy, it is hormonal.
I’ve been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. Now what?
Usually after a diagnosis your
OB will arrange for you to meet with a dietician and/or a Diabetes class (to learn more about Gestational Diabetes and how to test your sugar).
My class was facilitated by an RN and a dietician. We learned a bit more about Gestational Diabetes and how to test our blood sugar (through finger pricks).
I was most afraid of that. I hate needles with a passion.
But honestly? The finger pricks don’t even hurt that bad!
The dietician helped us plan our meals and gave us our targets for carbohydrate consumption.
Every woman is different and has different needs. Some women have stricter meal plans than others.
My meal plan consists of the following:
Breakfast: 2 carbs (1 serving = 15g. of carbs, so 30g total), 1 protein
No milk or fruit in the morning. This is because the morning is when the body has the most difficult time processing carbohydrates.
Snack: 2 carbs, 1 protein
Lunch: 3 carbs, 1-2 servings of protein, 1-2 servings of leafy greens
Snack: Same as above
Dinner: Same as lunch
Snack: Same as above
I am to eat every 2-3 hours. This is because if I go too long without eating, the body will release stored glucose and that could cause an insulin spike.
One hour after the first bite I take a blood test. The goal is to be below 140 after one hour. If I test after 2 hours (depends on the situation… example- a meal at a restaurant takes longer than 30 minutes to eat) then the goal is to be below 120. I also take a fasting blood test in the morning. That glucose level needs to be below 95.
So that’s 4 tests every day: Fasting, after breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Here are other posts where I've mentioned dealing with Gestational Diabetes:
During my research I came across other articles that mention the flaws in the Glucose Screening and the Glucose Tolerance Tests. Some even mentioned flaws in the treatment (diet and exercise) of pregnant women.
I found this information useful because I am not the type to just take my doctor's word. Yes, they are medical professionals but they only know what they know and sometimes aren't fully aware of other health opinions. Not true for everyone, but in my experience it is. So I always make sure that if I find something online or hear something through a family member or friend, I bring it up to my doctor. I question a lot of procedures and like to balance the risks and rewards of almost everything.
I am not a medical professional but will provide these links as a source of information. I take no responsibility for what my readers choose to do with this information. If you have any questions, please take it up with your doctor.