I have got to stop procrastinating and write about this already. Heck, dealing with gestational diabetes (aka GD) is one of the reasons I wanted to blog about my pregnancy. It seems like there is a lot of misinformation and even NON-information out there, either that or a lot of pregnant women just aren't paying attention.
Hey, I admit to suffering from pregnancy brain, but I retain information about serious stuff that can negatively affect my baby.
So as my pregnancy has progressed, I keep putting off writing about GD and end up thinking omg, where to start? And here we are – at the beginning.
Like many pregnant women, I had an overwhelming desire to devour pregnancy books like there's no tomorrow. A lot of them have chapters upon chapters dedicated to telling you what you can't do, what you shouldn't do, and all the horrible things that can happen to your little one before they arrive.
High risk complications can be scary to read about. Gestational diabetes is a high risk complication. It's one of the most common complications.
Right from the moment the stick read “pregnant” I was concerned that I might develop GD. It's also referred to as pregnancy diabetes. During pregnancy, the placenta puts out all kinds of hormones and can mess things up, such as causing you to become insulin resistant. That means your body isn't able to process glucose properly and leads to high blood sugar levels. That extra glucose crosses the placenta and goes to your baby – which can create issues with development and raise risks of awful things like stillbirth if those levels go unmonitored and are uncontrolled. Glucose comes from foods you eat (think carbs) and also comes from your liver for the times you aren't eating and need it (think background noise). As I mentioned, the placenta plays a large role in all of this. And as pregnancy progresses, insulin needs increase due to your body becoming increasingly resistant to insulin. Some of our bodies can handle this demand and some of our bodies can't.
It's not our fault if our bodies can't regulate this on their own. There's nothing we can do about it. We can't prevent GD and we can't give ourselves GD. (The closest prevention I can think of would be to eat like you HAVE GD so you are within correct blood sugar level ranges and don't get diagnosed with it… but not everyone can control it with diet/exercise alone….but I digress)
Thankfully, by monitoring those levels and keeping them where they should be – you minimize risks to yourself and baby throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery. You can even bring some of those risk factors down below what it would be for a woman with no issues and has a low risk pregnancy. GD moms-to-be often eat very well and healthy due to the monitoring and there's extra medical monitoring as well.
….where was I?
Oh yes, so I was concerned about it right away. I had some risk factors: overweight, family history of diabetes, and I'd previously tested as “pre-diabetic” 5 years ago (glucose tolerance test showed numbers higher than normal ranges, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetic). I shared this information with my OBGYN at my first appointment. She planned to have the 1 hour glucose screen done early – around 14ish weeks. Standard GD testing for pregnant women occurs between weeks 24 to 28 because insulin need and resistance are highest at that time.
Well, I ended up having that screening done around the 12 week mark because there was sugar in my urine at that appointment. There hadn't been any detected at my 2 previous appointments. Sugar in urine doesn't necessarily mean someone has GD, but it can be a red flag, especially if it shows up multiple times. But, that is one of the ways your body may try to dump the excess glucose.
After doing the one hour screen, it took several days to get the results. I did the screening on a Thursday. I called Monday to follow up, but didn't hear anything back. Tuesday the nurse and I played phone tag. Wednesday I called and got upset with the receptionist. She told me that my doctor and her nurse were off, but I could leave a message for the covering nurse. So I tell her why I'm calling – I need those results. I knew if I didn't pass it I would have to schedule a 3 hour glucose tolerance test. She acted like it was no big deal and that the covering nurse would only call me back for an emergency. I stress that it is urgent so the 3 hour could be set up if needed. Then she made a comment about me getting the screen done so early. I get more agitated and state that is why it is important because there's already concern and I'm at the beginning of my pregnancy.
I finally get called back and informed that I failed the 1 hour screen and need to set up a 3 hour test.
As much as I wanted to be on top of taking care of it, I really wanted to hear that I passed…