Pregnancy: Glucose Test
There are a lot of tests during pregnancy. Some of them are just fine, and others don't feel the greatest. One that is a common test for a doctor to give between 24 and 28 weeks is a glucose screen test, sometimes referred to as a 1 hour glucose test. In this test you will drink 50 g of glucose in a 10 ounce liquid form. After an hour you will have your blood drawn to see how your body did with the bombardment of sugar. If your blood sugar levels are about 140 then your doctor will order a glucose tolerance test, or a 3 hour glucose test. This can bring about a lot of feelings and worry. But knowing the facts can help you make it through the testing and waiting process.
With a three hour glucose test (or a glucose tolerance test) you will be asked to fast all foods after 12am and take the test in the morning. You will be allowed to have a small amount of water before the test, but that's it. You are also not allowed to smoke or have caffeine of any sort before the test. The test will follow the following pattern:
- Your fasting blood sugar will be measured by drawing your first blood sample.
- You will be asked to drink a 100g glucose drink (in 10 ounces). This can be a little harder then it sounds since you have only five minutes to do it.
- You will have your blood drawn after 1 hour, 2 hours, and 3 hours.
This gives the doctors 4 numbers to work with. It also means that you will need to sit in the lobby area for three entire hours while waiting for the test to be over. During this time you will be asked not to eat, drink, or even chew gum. You will also begin to feel some of the side effects of the glucose.
The Side Effects
Every woman is different, which could mean that you could have no problem taking the sugary drink down and keeping it there without feeling yucky. However, these are some of the possible side effects and how I felt both times I have had to do the three hour glucose test. Some of these symptoms are present with the 1 hour glucose screen, but not as strong or as likely.
- Nausea- Having that much sugar down there makes you nauseous. This seems to last for a long time on and off.
- Vomiting- Some women throw up (I did the first time). This is okay as long as the drink has been down there long enough. Otherwise you have to come back another day to start over. Each lab has to decide if it has been long enough, but in my case it had been about an hour and a half and I didn't have to start over. This last time I got sick after a nap at home. So, it can last a long time.
- Headache- The headache is not an easy one to handle. It hurts a lot, particularly in the front of you head. This is probably because of the sugar and the lack of water. You are double dosing yourself for a rough time. Try to drink lots of water when you are done to get rid of the headache as fast as possible.
- Tiredness- The test leaves you feeling tired. Not only is your body working hard to make a baby, but you are working hard to process a lot of sugar. Overall a nap is something most consider a good idea after such an event.
- Achy Body- After the nap, you may feel achy and sore. This too is from all the sugar and possibly dehydration. Make sure you work on getting your water in.
This test always makes me feel a little worried as well. There are lots of moms talking about it on mommy boards, so it is fairly normal to feel worry when you are told that the screening (1 hour test) was high. Many are sure that this means that they have gestational diabetes and that it means a lot of other bad things. However, it should be noted that "failing" the screening doesn't mean a whole lot.
My story- Every now and again a personal story makes a difference. In this case I "failed" the first glucose screening. I got 159 on it, which is fairly high. I sat through the 3 hour glucose test, feeling worried and icky. I worried and researched gestational diabetes for four days waiting for results. The doctor called to let me know that all of my numbers were normal and there was no sign of gestational diabetes. That was it. It was over and all that worry had been for no good.
This doesn't mean that it happens to everyone. However, you should know that it happens to some. It could be you. Additionally, even if it doesn't happen to you, it isn't worth the worrying! Worry can make you feel bad and isn't good for your baby either. So, try to sit back and relax. Waiting is always rough, but soon you will know.
Your doctor probably won't show you your exact results. However, this is how it works. There are four numbers, starting with your fasting blood sugar level. Each number is recorded and then evaluated. Here is what the doctor is hoping for:
- Fasting: 95mg or less
- 1st hour: 180mg or less
- 2nd hour: 155mg or less
- 3rd hour: 140mg or less
If one of your numbers is high then you doctor will have you repeat the test to make sure that you don't have gestational diabetes. If two of your numbers are high then you will be diagnosed with gestational diabetes and will then have to move on from there.
A Note About Gestational Diabetes
Many women worry about the glucose test because they are afraid that they will be diagnosed with gestational diabetes. In reality, this isn't ideal. However, there are several things that should be noted.
- Gestational diabetes effects 4% of all pregnant women. You are not alone. In fact, there are about 135,000 cases of gestational diabetes each year.
- Gestational diabetes doesn't cause birth defects! The high blood sugar becomes a problem later in pregnancy and effect the baby in two major ways. First, extra sugar which crosses the placenta is stored as fat in the baby's body. Second the baby's pancreas works hard to get rid of the extra blood sugar in the blood stream which means that the baby could be born with low blood sugar.
- Gestational diabetes can and should be treated. The great thing about being diagnosed with gestational diabetes is that you have the chance to follow a treatment plan and help protect your baby. Treatment includes a diet plan and exercise and sometimes includes daily blood sugar testing and insulin shots. However, all of these things can help the baby grow normally and can eliminate the chance of having a Cesarean section that very large babies require.
- In most cases gestational diabetes goes away at the end of the pregnancy. You will probably have to repeat a glucose tolerance test (the 3 hour one) after 6 weeks. But for most pregnant moms, the diabetes goes away after the pregnancy if over. A few moms find out that they have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and probably had it before they were pregnant.
Keep Worry At Bay
Yes, being diagnosed with gestational diabetes is a bad thing. However, it is also a good thing because it gives you and your doctor the ability to do what's right for your baby. Treating your gestational diabetes is what is best for you and your baby. This can mean a healthier pregnancy, a healthier you, and a healthier start to your baby's life. Finding out now is better then having a very large baby and having your doctor assume that you had the problem but never knew it.
Having a glucose screening (the 1 hour glucose test) is normal. Most doctors request that it be done between 24 and 28 weeks. Having a glucose tolerance test (the 3 hour test) is done if your first one is high (some doctors use 130, though many use 140). It doesn't mean you have gestational diabetes or that there is anything to worry about. It is just the next step to making sure you and your baby are healthy. If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes you will have to make some changes, but these are best for you and your baby. Don't worry, just go with the flow and make choices that will bring your baby into the world healthy and loved!