What Should You Eat Before A Gestational Diabetes Test For Best Results?

Gestational diabetes is a condition affecting some pregnant women. Though it typically doesn’t present any symptoms, this condition can increase health risks to pregnant women and their babies. While gestational diabetes is not rare, doctors can easily diagnose it through testing and treating it during pregnancy.

Have you considered clinical trials for Gestational diabetes?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Gestational diabetes, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a type of diabetes that develops for the first time during pregnancy. If you have GDM, your blood sugar levels are too high and need closely managing. In the United States, 2-10% of women who don't already have diabetes will develop gestational diabetes during their pregnancy. Managing gestational diabetes is vital to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Like other forms of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how your body processes and uses glucose (sugar). Normally, insulin moves glucose from your bloodstream into your body's cells for energy. GDM occurs when your pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin during your pregnancy.

When you’re pregnant, your hormone production changes. These hormonal changes cause the cells in your body to use insulin less effectively, increasing the need for insulin and leading to a condition known as insulin resistance.

While it's not uncommon to have some insulin resistance during late pregnancy, some women experience insulin resistance before getting pregnant, increasing their risk of developing gestational diabetes.

Often, you can prevent gestational diabetes before you get pregnant by losing weight if you're overweight and engaging in regular physical activity.

What are the risks associated with gestational diabetes?

In addition to placing you at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes after delivery, gestational diabetes increases the chance of developing high blood pressure while you're pregnant. It can also make your delivery more difficult and affect your baby's health.

Complications may include:

  • Larger baby (nine pounds or more), increasing the risk of C-section delivery

  • Premature birth, which can cause breathing and other health issues

  • Higher risk of a baby born with low blood sugar 

  • Your baby may develop type 2 diabetes later in life

Typically, you can control gestational diabetes with diet and exercise, though sometimes medication is necessary. Usually, blood sugar levels return to normal soon after delivery, and you can lower your risk of complications by reaching a healthy body weight after giving birth.

However, your doctor should monitor your blood sugar, testing your levels 6-12 weeks after you give birth and every one to three years after that.

How doctors test for gestational diabetes

Identifying and treating gestational diabetes can dramatically reduce the risk of pregnancy complications. Screening is usually performed during your second trimester, at 24-28 weeks of pregnancy, if you are at average risk of developing the condition.

If you are at an increased risk, your doctor may test for diabetes early in your pregnancy, even at your first prenatal visit. Risk factors that may cause your doctor to recommend a blood sugar test early include previous pregnancy with gestational diabetes, family history of diabetes, and being overweight.

The tests used may vary slightly but usually include:

Glucose screening test

A glucose screening test is the most common test used to check for gestational diabetes. During the test, you will drink a syrupy, sweet solution. One hour later, a technician will draw blood to measure your blood sugar level. If your blood sugar level is within the normal range, no other testing is needed.

If your glucose levels are high, your doctor will order a glucose tolerance test to determine if you have gestational diabetes.

Oral glucose tolerance test

The oral glucose tolerance test is a follow-up test similar to the initial glucose screening test, except the solution you drink is sweeter, and your blood sugar levels are checked every hour for three hours. If two or more readings are higher than expected, you will be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

What should I eat before a gestational diabetes test?

Usually, preparing for a gestational diabetes test takes little effort. While there are non-fasting tests, you will usually be required to fast for a minimum of eight hours before your oral glucose tolerance test.

There are a few other things you can do to prepare for your appointment. Make sure there are no diet restrictions and ask your medical team if there is anything you need to do to prepare for the test. You should also write down vital personal information, including any prescription, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, or supplements you take.

Sitting time during a gestational diabetes test can be tedious, so you might want to bring something to occupy you. Waiting for an hour to have your blood drawn can be difficult, and it's especially challenging if you are having the three-hour gestational diabetes test.

However, if you decide to entertain yourself, choose something that doesn't require you to move around extensively, as too much activity between blood draws can affect the results. It's also a good idea to pack a small juice or snack to eat after the last blood draw. 

What should I do if my test result is positive?

If you are already pregnant, don't try to lose weight, as this can compromise your baby’s health. Your doctor can guide you on how much weight you should gain to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, there are several steps you can take to manage your condition and protect the health of you and your baby. First, make sure that you go to all your prenatal visits and follow your doctor's treatment plan, including:

  • Consistently monitor your blood sugar levels to ensure they stay in a healthy range.

  • Follow a healthy diet created by your doctor or a dietitian and eat healthy foods in the right amounts at the appropriate times.

  • Engage in moderate-intensity exercises, such as brisk walking. This will lower your blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity. Check with your doctor about what types of physical activity you should do and if there are any restrictions.

Your doctor will monitor your blood sugar levels and the growth and health of your baby throughout your pregnancy. Healthy eating and staying active are often enough to control blood sugar levels. If they aren’t sufficient, your doctor may prescribe insulin, metformin, or other medication.

The lowdown

Gestational diabetes is a condition that affects some pregnant women. It places the mother and the baby at increased risk of developing other medical conditions and carries a lifetime risk of progression to type 2 diabetes.

Testing is a regular and important part of prenatal care. Therefore, pregnant women should strictly follow all recommended procedures before, during, and after testing for gestational diabetes.

Have you considered clinical trials for Gestational diabetes?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Gestational diabetes, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

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