What is Gestational Diabetes? Like other types of diabetes, Gestational Diabetes (GD) effects how your cells use sugar (glucose) during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes causes high blood sugar that can affect your health + your babies.
Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes: many women do not have noticeable symptoms during pregnancy. Increased thirst and more-frequent urination are possible symptoms.
Complications that may affect your baby:
excessive birth weight
low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
increased risk for future diabetes and obesity
Complications that may affect birth mother:
High blood pressure
Increased risk for C-Section
Increased risk for future diabetes
Management: Gestational Diabetes can usually be well managed with diet and exercise. Sometimes medication is needed. It’s important to note that a woman’s body does naturally become slightly more glucose intolerant during pregnancy as the baby needs a steady (thought not a large) supply of glucose for development.
Glucose Tolerance Test: Current guidelines suggest expectant mothers test between 24-29 weeks with the glucose challenge test. Typically, a sugary drink is given called "glucola" which contains 50 grams of sugar (among other ingredients). The Mothers blood sugar is then measured 1 hour after consumption. Women who screen positive go on to take the glucose tolerance test (GTT) with this same drink given in either a concentration of 75 grams (2-hour test) or 100 grams (3-hour test).
The medical community considers this drink harmless though it is widely acknowledged that many women cannot tolerate it due to side effects such as nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, and fatigue.
The problem with Glucola: In an age of increasing concern about the toxic exposures our babies are getting even before birth, it is concerning that the glucola drink is full of potentially harmful ingredients.
It is important to note that at least one of the glucose test drinks, EasyDex by Aero Med, contains an ingredient called BVO, or Brominated Vegetable Pil. BVO is also found in at least 10% of soft drinks in the US, and is included to keep the flavoring from floating to the top of the beverage.
According to the center for science in the public interest, "safety questions have been hanging over BVO since 1970, when the FDA removed BVO from its "generally recognized as safe" list of food ingredients. At that time, the FDA granted BVO "interim status" as a food additive which allowed its use in soft drinks, but it was and remains banned from European and Japaneses soft drinks. BVO was patented in the US and overseas as a flame retardant, yet it is in EasyDex, a medical testing "drink" consumed by presumably hundreds of thousands of pregnant women in the United States. (segment adapted from https://avivaromm.com/dont-drink-glucola-gestational-diabetes/)
Glucose Tolerance Test Alternatives:
Random glucose testing - Work with your OBGYN or Midwife to find a plan for you to test at home with a glucometer. This method is usually done over a period of a few days and involves eating an excellent diet and randomly testing your own blood glucose.
The Jelly Bean Test - Consists of eating 28 jelly beans (50g of sugar). The jelly bean test has been popular among midwives for decades, and there are naturally colored and non-GMO options to choose from. A study demonstrates that jelly beans are a reliable alternative preferred by women and with fewer side effects than glucola.
Other 50g sugar options - Talk with your provider about alternatives. Some I've heard of are 50g of orange juice or other type of juice, a milkshake, pancakes with syrup...you want a provider who's supportive and willing to work with you!
The Fresh Test - Recently brought to my attention and designed to be a healthy option when testing for Gestational Diabetes is The Fresh Test. I haven't tried it myself but I've heard great things and have been in contact with the company.
**REMEMBER THIS IS A PERSONAL DECISION AND YOU ARE ALLOWED TO SEEK ALTERNATIVE CARE OR GET SECOND OPINIONS. KNOW YOUR OPTIONS AND CHOOSE WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU.