A glucose blood screening test is standard procedure during pregnancy. Almost all practitioners will screen for it. The test is used to monitor a pregnant woman’s response to glucose levels. Doctors refer to high blood sugar that is started or found during pregnancy as gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is not uncommon. You can have a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby if you address your gestational diabetes early on with glucose testing.
Luckily, it is one of the easiest pregnancy complications to manage glucose testing. Gestational diabetes typically goes away after a woman has her baby. However, if it occurs there is also the strong possibility that the woman could develop diabetes later in life. And pregnant or not, it is always essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle. See our article on what vitamins everyone should be taking.
Why You Should Do a Glucose Test if You are Pregnant
The American Diabetes Association explains that they do not know exactly why gestational diabetes occurs. However, the association asserts that they know a few things for certain. The placenta provides hormones that assist in the baby’s development. However, these hormones produced by the placenta can also block a woman’s insulin levels, otherwise known as insulin resistance. When a pregnant woman is not able to make or use all of the insulin needed is when gestational diabetes occurs. Glucose cannot leave the body and convert to energy without the body’s production of insulin functioning properly. Hyperglycemia is the result if glucose accumulates to high levels in the body.
Is Gestational Diabetes Avoidable?
It is important to note that not all gestational diabetes is avoidable. However, a healthy diet and exercise routine could greatly reduce the risk before and after pregnancy. Generally, a woman’s weight and how much she exercises reflects how balanced her diet is. It would be wise to consult a nutritionist who could better advice. One should monitor their carbohydrate intake and consume the proper amount of fiber.
How It Could Affect Your Child
Without proper insulin, a mother’s pancreas is going to be working in overdrive to make insulin, but the insulin will not lower the blood glucose. This means that insulin may not cross the placenta, but other nutrients and glucose levels will. Consequently, the extra glucose will be absorbed by the gestating baby. This will cause their pancreas to produce more insulin to compensate for the overage of glucose. These are a few reasons why glucose testing in pregnancy is so important.
As the baby is developing, the extra energy will be stored as fat. Macrosomia or “fat baby” has a whole list of health problems, particularly difficulties with breathing. Also, children who are born with excess insulin are at risk for obesity or for developing type 2 diabetes as adults. There is also the chance the child will suffer from shoulder dystocia among many other complications.
When a Glucose Screening Test is Performed
Many different gestationa diabetes tests can be performed. The most common test takes place during the woman’s third trimester at 26-28 weeks. This preliminary test is called Glucose Challenge Screening. The Glucose Tolerance Screening test is done if a woman tests positive during her first test.
How is the Screening Test Done
No preparation is required before the test. Also, fasting is not required. When it comes to glucose testing in pregnancy, the woman will be given something sweet to drink (glucose). Blood levels peak, so blood will be drawn within one hour of consumption. A positive result for gestational diabetes indicates that your body may not be processing sugar effectively. A positive test result for the Glucose Screening test is not necessarily a diagnose for diabetes.
How the Tolerance Test is Done
Doctors suggest consuming 150mg of carbohydrates before the test. This could equate to one to two slices of bread. So, you will need to fast before this test. You can only consume a little bit of water 14 hours to the test. You also can’t eat or drink anything when undergoing glucose testing for diabetes. Schedule these tests in the morning. Have someone drive you to and from the appointment because you could be light-headed.
Your baseline glucose will be measured. Then, again you will be given something sweet to drink. However, in this test, it will be much sweeter and there will be a larger volume of it. Your blood will be drawn every hour for three hours. If one out of three tests come back abnormal than your doctor might have you make some adjustments in your lifestyle.
For a more in-depth look and treatment options regarding glucose testing in pregnancy please see consult this March of Dimes link. And always consult your health provider.