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Gestational Diabetes: the Journey From Screening to Positive


At some point during your pregnancy, your doctor will recommend you go for a gestational diabetes test.  For most women, this will occur around week 24-28 of your pregnancy. If you have had gestational diabetes in the past, are over 35, or overweight, your doctor may ask you to go for the test earlier.

The gestational diabetes test is used to measure your blood sugar level. Prior to the test you will be asked to fast. You will need to drink a very sweet syrupy glucose liquid. You will have to drink it within a few minutes, and it may be a little hard to swallow - so be prepared to push through drinking it down. After an hour, your blood will be drawn and they will run some tests to measure your blood sugar level.

If you happen to fail this first test, you will need to take the three hour test. Similar to the one hour test, you will fast and drink that glucose liquid. Your blood will be drawn before you drink the “syrup”, and will be drawn every hour for three hours.      

After you take your test, if you get a call telling you that the numbers were not so great and you in fact have tested positive for gestational diabetes, don’t worry. As scary as getting a gestational diabetes diagnosis is, by educating yourself on how to manage it, it's not as much of a hardship as it might feel like at first. If you have just been diagnosed, here's a little information that might help.

You may be wondering what you can eat - you might even be afraid to eat anything, but after you figure things out, it should be smooth sailing. The basics of gestational diabetes is that you want to eat higher protein and lower carb items. That means staying away from the cookies, cakes, and sweets you might be craving - which stinks, but you will make it through. You will also want to eat frequently. You will want to eat about six times a day, and each 'meal' should contain a good source of protein. 

Here's a quick example of what a meal plan for a day may look like for someone who has gestational diabetes:

Breakfast: bacon and eggs.

Morning snack: small bowl of cottage cheese and a small slice of whole wheat toast with butter.

Lunch: Salad with diced chicken, cheese, and an assortment of other vegetables (cucumbers, carrots, etc- keep in mind tomatoes are on the higher end of the carb count)- small amount of dressing with the salad.

Afternoon snack: String cheese, small serving of fruit.

Dinner: Burger with no bun - you can use some light condiments but watch the carbs in those. Green beans and a small serving of wild rice.

Bedtime snack: low sugar yogurt, small serving of whole wheat crackers. 

That might seem pretty bland and boring, but remember - keep those blood sugars low, isn't about you, it's about your little one growing inside of you! If you are someone that craves soda - you can try substituting it with seltzer water. Fruit can satisfy that sweet tooth, but be careful with this - fruit is also high in carbs. Many women find it helpful to plan for a small serving of fruit in the afternoon - giving them something to look forward to. Another great snack option, for a sweet tooth, is to take a gram cracker, spread cream cheese on it. Slice up some strawberries and place them on top. It's kinda close to a cheesecake taste!  

Your doctor may set up an appointment for you with a nutritionist - they will give you the basics of what to eat, when to eat, when to check your blood sugars, what those levels should be for you, and they will also set up a way for you to send a log of your diet as well as blood sugar readings in to your medical provider.  They will be able to evaluate those readings, along with your diet and decide if you might need medication in addition to watching what you eat.

Pregnant Woman Having Blood Glucose Checked

Typically, there are two types of medications that they will give a woman when she has gestational diabetes. The first, and most common is insulin - this does require an injection - but much like the rest of this, you will get the hang of it, and knowing it's for your baby is some serious motivation. Another type is an oral medication - it's not as well refined as the insulin, so chances are your doctor will start with the insulin.  

It's also important to know that your blood sugars are affected by much more than your diet - you will also want to make sure you are drinking plenty of water. Exercise is also important - you don't need to join the cross-fit class and work out like crazy, but just try to make sure you get up and moving for a total of twenty minutes each day- and cleaning the house counts as long as you are getting your heart rate up!  

This by far, is not a total guide on gestational diabetes - be sure to keep in close contact with your doctor and follow their recommendations. 

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