Gestational Diabetes Testing

Gestational diabetes testing is worrisome for many women. Here we the discuss standard testing that most traditional healthcare providers order.

Glucose Challenge Test (GCT)

The most common of all the gestational diabetes testing, most hospital based providers will ask you to go have a glucose challenge test when you are 24-28 weeks pregnant. If you fall into a high risk group, or if you have had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy, they may order the test earlier. Read Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes for more information about what might put you in the high risk category.

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The glucose challenge test measures how effective your body is a metabolizing sugar.

Your doctor will give you a bottle of Glucola (or another sugary beverage containing 50 mg of glucose) which usually is bright orange and has a vaguely orange flavor. You will be told to drink this all at once and then have your blood sugar tested one hour later. This can be done by a finger stick or blood draw. If your blood sugar is not below 140 mg/dL a second test will usually be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.

Fasting Blood Sugar Test

The fasting blood sugar test is another gestational diabetes test to used to determine if you have pregnancy diabetes. This blood test measures your blood sugar levels in the morning before you eat. If your blood sugar level over 100 milligrams per decileter (mg/dL) a second test will usually be ordered to confirm the diagnosis. The “normal measurement” for fasting blood sugar should be between 60-80 mg/dL. Many people who do not want to drink a huge quantity of glucose will request this test instead of the glucose challenge test.

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Follow-up Testing and Diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes

This is the least fun of the gestational diabetes testing. The follow-up test, sometimes called the oral glucose tolerance test is usually a combination of the two tests previously discussed.

You will be asked to fast overnight before going into the lab where they will measure your fasting blood sugar level. You will be given another sugar solution to drink. Usually the use two bottles of Glucola or another sugary beverage with 100 grams of glucose in it this time. Your blood sugar levels will then be measured every hour for three hours.

Above-normal test results include:

  • Fasting blood sugar of 95 mg/dL or more
  • Blood sugar of 180 mg/dL or more - 1 hour after glucose beverage
  • Blood sugar of 155 mg/dL or more - 2 hours after glucose beverage
  • Blood sugar of 140 mg/dL or more - 3 hours after glucose beverage

If two of the readings are higher than normal you will be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Problems with Gestational Diabetes Testing

If you are not Caucasian, you may run into problems with gestational diabetes testing. Why? Because when the normal ranges were developed they didn’t take into account that other races naturally have higher blood sugar levels. As a result, your normal blood sugar levels may be higher and cause you to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes when your body is processing glucose just fine.

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If you do not normally eat a lot of sugar, the glucose challenge test may flag you as having gestational diabetes when your normal blood sugar levels are low and stable. Yes, you would be diagnosed as having gestational diabetes if you ate a bunch of junk, but you don’t and your effective blood sugar levels are normal.

Your fasting blood sugar levels may test as "low" even though your blood sugar levels stay higher than normal all night. This can happen when you have the test a couple hours after waking. Your blood sugar may be 105 mg/dL all night but then decrease to below 80 mg/dL a few minutes after you get up and start moving around. In this case you may actually have gestational diabetes but not know it.

Why Should You Care About Gestational Diabetes Testing?

As a natural childbirth advocate, you already know that maintaining your blood sugar levels thru diet and lifestyle modifications is better than taking simply taking insulin.

If you test positive for gestational diabetes, you will no longer be considered a “low-risk pregnancy”. This means that you will have to be seen by an obstetrician if you plan to deliver in a hospital. There are rules preventing hospital based midwives from serving women with “high-risk” pregnancies. Some birth centers will not take women who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. In short, if you plan to deliver naturally, without pain relief medications or interventions, your ability to do so will be drastically reduced.

Pregnancy Diabetes

For this reason, you may want to take steps to prevent being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, especially if you know your blood sugar levels are within a normal range but the testing parameters may identify you as having gestational diabetes. At the same time uncontrolled blood sugar fluctuations can cause a host of problems for both you and your baby. All pregnant women should take steps to ensure their blood sugar levels remain steady and avoid doing or eating things that make them spike.

Read Gestational Diabetes Diagnosis to find out more about the dangerous complications you want to avoid. Also read Pregnancy Gestational Diabetes Diet or Healthy Pregnancy Diet to find out about what to eat while you are pregnant to ensure stable blood sugar levels. Finally read Gestational Diabetes Blood Sugar Levels to find out what your blood sugar levels should be as well as how to measure your own blood sugar levels for the benefit of you and your baby.

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For More Information about Gestational Diabetes and How to Avoid It

Read Pregnancy Gestational Diabetes Diet for more information about how you can keep your blood sugar levels low by following a good pregnancy diet.

For more information about blood sugar levels read Gestational Diabetes Blood Sugar Levels .

To find out what your recent diagnosis means read Gestational Diabetes Diagnosis .

To find out how to best monitor and manage your blood sugar levels while you are pregnant read Management of Gestational Diabetes

To find out if you may be at risk of gestational diabetes read Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes .

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