What to Expect from a Gestational Diabetes Test

What is Gestational Diabetes?

In simplest terms, diabetes is heightened resistance to insulin, a hormone that stabilizes blood sugar levels. All humans have some level of reaction to insulin, but this resistance changes during pregnancy. Researchers don’t know why, but sometimes this change results in the presence of gestational diabetes. The American Diabetes Association estimates that as many as nine percent of all pregnant women will develop gestational diabetes.

All women are tested for gestational diabetes during their pregnancy. While being a surrogate does not raise the odds of developing gestational diabetes, there are certain elements of a surrogate pregnancy that may contribute to more significant insulin resistance and the development of gestational diabetes.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the risk for developing gestational diabetes rises with the following factors:

  • Over 25 years of age
  • Carrying multiples
  • Excessive weight
  • Non-Caucasian

Since multiple pregnancies are more common when using IVF, and most surrogates tend to be over the age of 25, you naturally carry a few extra risk factors than you may have had in your personal pregnancies. As a result, your glucose tolerance test may show elevated glucose levels.

All About Testing

Gestational diabetes testing is typically done around the twenty fourth week of pregnancy. It includes a non-fasting laboratory test, where you will be asked to consume eight ounces of a highly sugared glucose drink. In some cases, you may be asked to consume the beverage at home before coming in. You will remain at the lab for one hour before having your blood drawn. Technicians will analyze that sample to review your glucose levels.

If the one-hour glucose tolerance test comes back elevated, this does not automatically mean that you have or will be diagnosed with diabetes. Instead, you will be asked to take a three-hour version of the test.

You will be asked to fast for a period of twelve hours before the three-hour test. When you show up at the lab, you’ll give a baseline blood draw before consuming the sugared glucose drink. Your blood will be drawn again at one hour, two hours and three hours. Doctors will look to see if your body is able to self-regulate and lower glucose levels within a certain time frame. If your levels are elevated and you are not able to regulate without intervention, you will be diagnosed as a gestational diabetic.

Gestational Diabetes Treatment

If you are diagnosed, it is important to understand that there is nothing you could have done to prevent this. Unlike type 1 diabetes, which is typically inherited, or type 2 diabetes, which is typically the result of excessive weight and poor diet, gestational diabetes tends to be linked to how the body regulates pregnancy hormones. Some women experience fatigue, excessive thirst, and blurred vision if they are diagnosed.

In most cases, gestational diabetes can be managed by closely monitoring your diet and adding a bit of exercise to your daily routine. You will be asked to monitor your glucose levels with a home testing kit and to keep a strict log of your food intake and blood sugar levels. Some women are simply unable to control their blood sugar levels through diet and exercise, and they may need additional treatment such as taking an oral medication or injecting insulin to keep their body’s chemistry in check.

For most women, gestational diabetes will go away after the child is born. The American Diabetes Association says women who develop gestational diabetes should have a two-hour glucose tolerance test at six weeks postpartum to ensure the condition has cleared up. Women who have developed gestational diabetes will be at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life and should plan to have blood sugar levels tested every three years following the delivery.

 

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the upcoming book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.