As you may recall, I am not a fan of needles. In fact, I am terrified of needles. So, this week was a big week for me, preparing myself for the Glucose Screening Test. This blood draw is to determine if gestational diabetes is a concern as you move into the third trimester. Unfortunately, gestational diabetes can affect any woman during pregnancy, no matter your health and wellness parameters, or your family history. In layman’s terms, your body simply stops processing sugar correctly, causing baby to plump up significantly. This is in turn can cause concerns for baby’s health and wellness in utero, as well as complications during delivery. Therefore, this test is recommended to all pregnant women by week 28.
My midwife offered me some tips to help to optimize my chances of passing the test, which I will pass along to you! Make sure that you do limit your carbohydrates up to 24-36 hours prior to testing. This not only includes breads and pastas but also fruits and dessert. Pretty much… you are on a 36 hour diet, and salad is your new best friend. The morning of, approximately 2 hours prior to the test, you want to eat a meal of protein rich foods. Eggs are best. You also want to ensure that you are fully hydrated, so may be best to skip the coffee too! You then must drink an awful beverage approximately 30 minutes prior to the blood draw to help to establish your levels. Although this drink tastes crummy, most of us probably drank worse in our college years! So, just plug your nose and gulp it down. Then comes the needles… this test does require quite a bit of blood collection, so try and bring a snack along to replenish you post draw. Hopefully, the results come back A-OK, because if not, the next step is a 3 hour test, which includes multiple blood draws and is done at the lab. Obviously… not anyone’s idea of a good time, and my idea of a living nightmare!
Most women can manage gestational diabetes through lifestyle changes but some women do require medical intervention, and must begin use of insulin. Eating a well-planned diet is key, and you never want to skip meals, especially breakfast. Avoiding high sugar items is also important, and it good practice to start limiting these and establishing healthy eating routines for not just yourself but also your growing family. Maintaining your exercise routine is also going to help to keep your glucose levels in check, as little as 30 minutes a day can do the trick! If these solutions do not help, then your provider will support you with the best course of treatment to balance your levels appropriately. One positive though, typically gestational diabetes does not remain an issue after delivery of baby. Luckily for me, my test came back ‘good to go!’. One thing that did pop up on my blood panel was that I am iron deficient, and now considered anemic. My iron levels have dropped significantly since the last draw, which is not atypical due to the increase in blood surging through my body, over 50% more than usual! Although our Pregnancy Plus Prenatal does offer iron support, you may need to supplement additional iron if you do become anemic. The typical recommendation is 30mg, but you will just want to touch base with your provider prior to use. It is also recommended to add in more red meat, and leafy greens- like spinach and kale. I am not someone who typically eats a lot of red meat, growing up in the Midwest I feel that I have had my fill! I definitely have not been eating it while pregnant because it has to be cooked to well done to be 100% safe for baby. Not my idea of a yummy steak, so I definitely need to make some changes to help to naturally boost my iron levels up! Going into the delivery room with anemia can cause concern if excessive bleeding occurs, due to your body’s depleted reserves of hemoglobin. It will make recovery post delivery harder too! I looked into juicing, but have found my local Trader Joe’s cold pressed juice to be the most convenient and bearable. Look for the GREEN one, as it packs over a pound of spinach and 17 leaves of kale per serving! Also, can’t beat the price… so for now it is a good solution. We will do another blood draw closer to 34 weeks, to see if my levels are up, but in the meantime I will also experiment with new recipes including these leafy greens. If I stumble across something fabulous, I will be sure to share!