As part of your routine checks during pregnancy, you have to do a test for gestational diabetes.
This is one of those potential issues that only affects 5-10% of pregnant women. It is basically caused by the pregnancy hormones disrupting the action of your insulin, meaning your body can’t deal with high blood sugar levels properly. According to Diabetes Australia you may have a higher risk of developing the condition if you fall into any of these categories:
- Are over 25 years of age
- Have a family history of type 2 diabetes
- Are overweight
- Are from an Indigenous Australian or Torres Strait Islander background
- Are from a Vietnamese, Chinese, middle eastern, Polynesian or Melanesian background
- Have had gestational diabetes during previous pregnancies
- Have previously had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- Have previously given birth to a large baby
- Have a family history of gestational diabetes
The risks involved with having gestational diabetes can include having a large baby, miscarriage or stillbirth.
The good news is that if you are diagnosed and manage it properly under the guidance of your doctor, these risks are very low. Management can be as simple as a proper diet and exercise during your pregnancy, but ensure you are following the guidance of your doctor for what you specifically need to do for your circumstances.
The other good news is that it will go away soon after birth (though you do have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes later in life due to the insulin resistance).
The test for gestational diabetes is fairly straight forward. Many of the women I talked to about it absolutely hated it, but me and a few women found it to be no big deal at all.
You go in to your pathology place and work with the staff there. I chose to go first thing in the morning, because you need to have fasted for 10 hours before hand (that was the advice I was given anyway, it might be slightly different in your area).
So at 7.30am, I arrived at the centre. The first thing the lady did was make sure I had had nothing except water since the night before, and to confirm my pregnancy and personal details.
Next she took a couple of vials of blood. I was a little concerned, because I knew more blood would be drawn later, and it seemed like I was giving away a lot. But they do this routinely, so I just went with it.
Once the blood is taken, you are served a glucose syrup drink. Everyone says it tastes a bit like flat lemonade, and I agree. When I first started drinking I was pleasantly surprised (I love sweet things), but it was so syrupy that by the end of the small drink I was very much over it. If you don’t enjoy sweet things, or syrupy things, I can see how this part of the process would be horrid.
The next part is hard – you have to sit and wait for an hour without eating anything. You’re allowed to have more water, but no food until the whole process is done.
I had taken an easy-to-read book with me to while away the time. They won’t let you wander around (even if your collection centre is inside a shopping centre), because they need you close by in case you pass out or have other complications.
As all pregnant women (who are not suffering morning sickness at the time) know, not eating for a length of time is hard – you get weak, emotional, even sick. Your body needs food to support all the processes it is going through, and fasting for so long is difficult and not exactly good for you.
One woman I talked to about the process said she found it so bad during this waiting time that she had to get permission to go sleep in her car, as that was the only way she could cope. Thankfully for me I just read my book, not worrying if my eyes glazed over the words half the time. There were also other people coming in and out of the centre for their own tests, so I was able to distract myself sometimes by people-watching.
Eventually the hour was up, and I went back into the little room to have the second lot of blood drawn. It was the exact same as the first round, except she drew from the other arm.
And now for the next fun part – yet another hour of waiting.
This time was harder. I found it harder to concentrate on my book for any length of time, so I decided to play some Animal Crossing on my phone. Even that didn’t last too long before I had to distract myself from the growing feeling of overall crappiness. I hadn’t eaten anything since dinner the night before, and now it was almost 9am – I usually have breakfast around 6am, and have had a snack by mid-morning. My head started to hurt, and I was just getting a bit grumpy (especially with the people coming in and out of the centre – why did they even have to exist? Thanks pregnancy body for this lack of ability to cope well in this situation…).
Finally this second hour was up, and I returned to the little room to have the third and final blood drawn. This was taken from the first arm again, from the next vein over.
And then I was free!
Free to go hunt down a good, hearty breakfast!
Unfortunately for me, I chose to go to the Coffee Club. I say unfortunately, because the meal was tiny (especially given how much it cost), and I was still quite hungry after finishing. I decided to go and buy some baby clothes to lighten my spirit, and headed home for some more food.
Overall it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. I actually surprised myself with how well I coped – I get hangry in everyday situations, let alone fasting.
When my results came back I was pleased to hear I was completely normal. Again, another slight surprise given the amount of lollies I’ve had this pregnancy!
How did you find the gestational diabetes test? Were your results good news or bad news?