So there you are, staring at that glass of painfully-sweet, ultra-sugary orange liquid and wondering, “What on earth is that? Isn’t this something the doctors normally say not to drink?” Don’t freak out, it’s a normal test that all mums-to-be have to go through, sometimes multiple times per pregnancy. What is a glucose tolerance test? It is how your doctor or midwife can determine whether you have pregnancy-induced diabetes. Diabetes is a disorder in the way your body metabolizes sugar, and pregnant women are susceptible to developing it due to the way that baby is wreaking havoc with your hormones. No, it’s not just sudden tears and bizarre cravings for mango that come with the territory: you could get very sick if you don’t keep your blood sugar in check.
Basically, you are made to drink a liquid which is extremely high in glucose all in one sitting, on an empty stomach. What happens when you drink that teeth-searing beverage is this: because your stomach is empty, the sugar in the drink hits your system fast, and all at once. If you have problems metabolizing glucose (sugar, what the body uses as fuel), then your blood sugar will spike once it gets mobbed by all that sugar you just drank and turn you into a trembling mess. If your pancreas and metabolic system is fine, you’ll feel a bit light-headed for a while and then shake it off. Sometimes they pair a glucose tolerance test with physical stress tests, and that is just loads of fun: walking on a treadmill while your blood sugar is leaping around like a frog on crank.
Diabetes is a big deal. Unchecked, it can cause you and your baby major health problems. Mums with pregnancy diabetes rarely end up with it later in life, but it’s always worth keeping an eye on your blood sugar as you get older just in case. If they do diagnose you with diabetes don’t lose your cool, you can manage it just fine in most cases. You’ll be placed on a diet rich in protein, veggies and complex carbs and will have to just say no to those ice cream cravings. You’ll have to get regular exercise and go in weekly for a finger-stick blood test, unless they give you an at-home test kit. Only extreme cases will have to endure insulin injections.
So take heart, mama, it’s just a little test. Down that nasty stuff and get on with the bigger business of bringing that bouncing bundle of joy into the world.