Unfortunately the symptoms that lead to gestational diabetes are much like the symptoms of pregnancy in general: nausea, fatigue, frequent urination, thirst. Often times, moms with gestational diabetes show no symptoms or signs - so it’s one of these things where it can simply develop without knowing.
You will most likely be tested for Gestation Diabetes around 24-28 weeks (I was tested at 26 weeks). If you are anxiously anticipating your test, and if you have heard conflicting stories about the testing process, I want to clear them up!
When I went through a childbirth education class we went around the room and talked about our likes and dislikes of pregnancy. To my surprise, a few of the fellow expectant mothers said that the gestational diabetes test was a dislike (of all the things to dislike about pregnancy I was surprised to hear that this test was one of them)! One woman even told me that I should take the entire day off after my test because I would be so sick from the glucose solution for the test. Well, that wasn’t my experience at all. Here is what happens:
I scheduled my test through my doctor. I was told to report to the on-site lab for instruction. Upon arrival the lab was crazy! There were dozens of people waiting to get blood drawn, etc. When I approached the desk I told the nurse why I was there and they said, because the test, at this point, doesn’t take much effort (you are just drinking something) they would have me back shortly – and they did. I didn’t wait long at all. Upon entering the lab the nurse explained the procedure: “You will have five minutes to drink the glucose fluid. Exactly one hour after you finish drinking, you will need to come back for blood withdrawal to measure your blood sugar levels. It is imperative that you do not drink anything in between the glucose test and the blood testing”.
It was important for me to eat something in the morning before my test. Avoid ANYTHING with sugar. The nurse asked me what I had consumed, I had two eggs scrambled and water (remember my previous post – never go more than 12 hours without eating – those babies are hungry). The nurse said that was the perfect thing to digest!
Here is where your experience might differ: the nurse then asked me if I would like Lemon-Lime or Orange flavor. Some of my co-workers told me they had grape before and preferred the orange. Although grape wasn’t offered, I chose the orange. The nurse then asked me if I would like the drink cold or at room-temperature. I chose refrigerated.
To be honest, it tasted like flat orange soda to me – I didn’t mind it at all! I have not been drinking soda during pregnancy so I welcomed the sugar beverage! But, beware: it does has a lot of sugar (like soda) but it wasn’t foul like some of my contemporaries had described. I didn’t feel sick or weird after, although my girlfriend who had the test the same day said she did feel queasy.
I took the entire five-minutes to finish the bottle. I probably could’ve gone faster, but the five minutes seemed appropriate. I had no problem finishing.
After an hour I arrived back at the lab for the blood work. I hate getting my blood drawn – never been a fan of needles. They took two vials of blood and at the Cleveland Clinic they measured for the following (standard “safe” rates included):
Glucose 65 - 135mg/dL
WBC 3.70 - 11.00k/uL
RBC 3.90 - 5.20m/uL
Hemoglobin 11.5 - 15.5g/dL
Hematocrit 36.0 - 46.0%
MCV 80.0 - 100.0fL
MCH 26.0 - 34.0pG
MCHC 30.5 - 36.0g/dL
RDW-CV 11.5 - 15.0%
Platelet Count 150 - 400k/uL
MPV 9.0 - 12.7fL
And that was it! I received my results same day and I was in the clear!
One of my girlfriends has three children and for all three gestational diabetes tests she was asked to come back for the second round of testing. From what I understand, the second round of testing is worse: its takes a longer amount of time, the glucose drink contains more sugar, there is more blood work, etc. She never actually had gestational diabetes. So, even if you are asked to do further testing: don’t be worried. It’s a precaution and could very well turn out to be nothing!
If you do get diagnosed with gestational diabetes: do not stress! I know, easy for me to say, but really! You can control the diabetes with two simple tips: eat healthy and exercise (make sure you are doing the proper exercises related to pregnancy!)! Also, I think it’s a good tip to get tested for diabetes after the babies are born, and even in future years.
So, for the test, I recommend a few things:
1. Test in the morning. This way you don’t need to eat sugar-free all day.
2. Eat something extremely low in sugar before the test – take a page from this blog – eat two scrambled eggs.
3. Don’t stress! If you have to retest, it’s okay. If you do have gestational diabetes, you can get through it!
For more information on gestational diabetes, I recommend the following sites:
Diet/ Meal Plan: http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/eating-well-menu/gestational-diabetes-diet.aspx