Do I have to take it? When do I take it? Can I test early? How does the test go? Find your answers here.
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Do I have to test for gestational diabetes?
Testing for gestational diabetes is optional, just like any medical procedure, but it's necessary because your high blood sugar increases the risks of complications during labor and later in life for both you and the baby.
Even mildly high blood sugar (not high enough for a gestational diabetes diagnosis) is linked to increased complications.
Prenatal appointments are for making sure you and the baby are healthy, and testing for gestational diabetes is another check to make sure everything is okay.
If you don't want to drink the glucola drink, there are alternative testing methods. You can read about them on the next page.
When is the gestational diabetes test done?
Gestational diabetes is commonly tested between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.
The reason for this is because insulin resistance is a natural part of pregnancy, and it gets worse the further along you are in pregnancy.
How is gestational diabetes tested?
The gestational diabetes test is most commonly performed by an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).
This test consists of drinking the sugary drink (glucola drink), then testing your blood sugar one hour later.
If your blood sugar is close to the limit, your doctor may order that you do the 3-hour test.
The 3-hour test is performed the same way, but your blood sugar is tested four times; once before drinking the glucola drink, then once an hour for three hours after finishing the drink.
Can I test for gestational diabetes early?
Testing in the first trimester is possible and a great option, especially if you:
- had gestational diabetes before.
- are prediabetic.
- have multiple risk factors.
Testing in the first trimester is done differently from the OGTT. It's an HbA1c test (blood work), and it's over 95% accurate in predicting a diagnosis later in pregnancy.
This type of test requires nothing extra from you. You have to ask your doctor to request an HbA1c test with your normal blood work, and the doctor simply has to check that box when ordering the blood work.
If you’ve already had your initial blood work done, don’t worry. Bring it up at the next appointment.
The benefit of testing in the first trimester is early intervention if necessary, but testing early doesn't excuse you from testing again at 24 to 28 weeks. Remember, insulin resistance gets worse as pregnancy furthers, so it's necessary to test again later in pregnancy.
The only scenario where you wouldn't have to test at 24 to 28 weeks is if you were already diagnosed with gestational diabetes from the 1st trimester HbA1c test.
Testing for prediabetes and diabetes is proactive! It’s an opportunity to get ahead of a (possible) gestational diabetes diagnosis.
Learn about alternative testing methods