Every year, 2% to 10% of pregnancies in America are affected by gestational diabetes. A serious threat to both the mother and the child’s health, Gestational Diabetes Mellitus can lead to complications such as high blood pressure, obstructed labor, premature birth, and the baby’s increased birthweight. While gestational diabetes usually goes away after giving birth, 50% of women go on to develop diabetes type 2.
Gestational Diabetes usually develops by the 24th week of pregnancy, so expect your doctor to require you to go through what is called the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) between the 24th and 28th week. The OGTT is a way to measure your body’s ability to use glucose.
What to expect
The test usually takes place in a doctor’s clinic or a laboratory. You will be required to fast for 8 to 12 hours prior to the test. A blood sample will be drawn to serve as the baseline of your glucose level. You will then be asked to drink a sweet sugar drink, then wait an hour for a second blood draw. Some women have no problem finishing the drink, while some feel a bit queasy afterwards. If this test comes out positive, you will be required to take the second step of the test or the 3-hour version of the OGTT.
The 3-hour glucose tolerance test will be done another day. In this test, you will be given an even sweeter solution and blood will be drawn from you at the first, second, and third hour. If two out of three blood tests come out higher than normal, you will be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
Can you do anything to “pass” the test?
This question is hard to answer because what you want out of a test such as this is an accurate result. However, some may argue that you can get positive results because of the kinds of food you ate hours before the test. So here are a few tips worth trying before taking the OGTT.
- Avoid high-sugar food hours or days before your scheduled test. Cut back on simple, refined carbohydrates such as pasta, pizza, sweet pastries, white rice, and cereals.
- Opt for complex, healthy carbohydrates. These include whole grains, whole wheat bread, and fresh fruits. Make sure that your meals have a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and good fats in them.
- Do not drink anything other than water prior to the test. Don’t drink coffee, fruit juices, tea, and any sugary drink before the test.
It would be better to heed these tips all throughout your pregnancy to make sure that you’re in tiptop shape until you give birth. After all, you can never go wrong having a balanced diet every day and avoiding sugary drinks as much as possible.
The best way to tackle this test is to follow your doctor’s instructions. There are doctors that instruct their patients to load up on carbohydrates days before taking the test, while most of them want you to fast from midnight until the time of testing.
In case you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, your doctor may ask you to:
- Check your blood sugar levels four times a day or more.
- Do urine tests to check for ketones. This is if your doctor finds your diabetes not to be under control.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
- Have a regular exercise routine.