Today, I had to take my second trimester glucose tolerance test and draw blood to test for Hepatitis B.
Glucose tolerance test is used to measure gestational (or pregnancy) diabetes. According to BabyCenter, “Between 2 and 5 percent of expectant mothers develop this condition, making it one of the most common health problems during pregnancy.” Apparently, often the condition goes without any symptoms and testing is the only way to know.
What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a condition when pregnant women have higher than normal blood glucose levels. Since pregnancy causes dramatic changes in the mother’s metabolism, the pancreas’ secretion of insulin and regulation of sugars in the body can sometimes function improperly, thus causing this condition.
According to American Diabetes Association, blood glucose levels are considered normal or healthy if levels are:
- Before a meal (fasting blood glucose): 95 mg/dl or less
- 1-hour after a meal: 140 mg/dl or less
- 2-hours after a meal: 120 mg/dl or less
How does gestational diabetes affect the mother and the baby?
The immediate risk of gestational diabetes is having “fat” babies, or babies born overweight. This is caused by the excess blood glucose that are stored as fat in the baby’s body. An overweight baby could also be at risk of becoming an overweight or diabetic adult. Furthermore, the large size of the baby could cause difficult birth for the mother.
Mothers with gestational diabetes can often give birth to perfectly healthy babies. However, if gestational diabetes is not treated with weight management, proper exercise and a healthy diet, mothers may need to take medicine to control the diabetes. After childbirth, if the mother’s blood glucose levels remain high, she could be at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
My glucose test experience
In my mind, I have never had any high blood glucose problems and am pretty confident that I’d strike clear for the test. So, I came into the hospital expecting the sugar water to taste awful and nothing else.
My test was the 1 hour glucose tolerance test. It involved me drinking 50g of sugar mixed with water and waiting exactly an hour before drawing blood.
Basically, I had to pour into my cup FIVE of these vials of pure glucose (pictured above), then filling the cup 80% full with water. Then, I gulped the whole thing down and placed a timer on my cell phone – 1 hour to be exact.
The sugar water, to my surprise did not taste as evil as people describe them to me. When I got the glucose vials from the pharmacist, she remarked to me how disgusting and “too sugary” this drink is.
What bothered me was not the taste, but the aftermath. The effects of the high glucose was felt within 5 minutes of taking the drink. I had a light-hearted dizzy feeling and was a bit sick. For the next hour, I read a book and kept yawning as if I’m not getting enough oxygen.
Finally, the hour was up and I had my blood drawn. The nurse said that some people vomit or even have hot flashes and felt terrible all over from the sugar. I guess I did well.
For the rest of the day, I just felt pooped and tired. Although I did do a few loads of laundry (side note: I received my cloth diapers and are so happy washing them. They are just the cutest little things!), met with a friend and cooked dinner, I felt my energy was just not there.
The other effect of the glucose was super active baby! This whole day, he was kicking, flipping, hiccuping about 3-4 times more than usual.
It will be another 4 weeks till my next check-up and I will find out the results then.
From this experience, I swear that being sugar high is one of the grossest feelings. I will try not to dunk my baby in coke and chocolate for all our sake!