The Truth Behind Gestational Diabetes

Diabetes runs in my family. My husband tells me it’s just our terrible eating habits that run in the family *eyeroll*. Regardless, I was almost positive that when I got pregnant, I would be one of the righteous few that would endure gestational diabetes along with ALL the other pregnancy issues. My mother always talked about her own gestational diabetes with both myself and my brother because that was her only issue while being pregnant.

If you have recently been diagnosed with gestational diabetes or just want to learn more about what it is, continue reading…

My Story

My gestational diabetes was quite the journey. I remember my 24 week appointment was coming up… the doctor warned me that I would have to take the dreaded diabetes test. I had heard horror stories about it.

“ It tastes awful.”

“You have to starve yourself the night before.”

“It’s a gross orange flavor.”

“I literally felt like I was going to vomit the entire time.”

This sounded like it wasn’t going to be a fun experience. Regardless, the night before I didn’t eat anything as directed. I walk into the hospital that morning and get a huge whiff of that sterile hospital smell. “Here we go” I think as I walk up to the counter to hand the staff my ID. I am handed a plastic bottle full of red liquid.

Photo by Jasper Oversteyns on Unsplash

“I have to drink all of this?” I ask frantically.

As I pout over to the waiting room, I mentally prepare myself for the nastiness that is about to enter my deprived stomach. I open the bottle and take a cautious sniff. Fruit punch. Not a bad flavor! I begin chugging it down. And to my surprise… I like it! Phew…

I get it down and wait for an hour. It wasn’t too bad of a wait, I just played backgammon with my hubby who came along with me. After about two losses, a nurse comes out and calls my name. Time for the blood draw!

Usually I would be pretty nervous, but being pregnant means getting your blood taken fairly often which means I was a pro at this point. I follow the nurse and turn a corner into a bright, white room. I sit on one of the four chairs.

He starts pushing on my arm with his thumb. He tries smacking my arm, poking with his forefinger, and tightening the arm band. Nothing. The nurse still can’t find it. He calls in reinforcements. The next nurse is able to find it, stick me, and draw my blood with ease! Another sigh of relief…

This relief would be short lived. I get my phone call for my results that evening from my OBGYN. She tells me they mislabeled my blood. This means that it was mixed with the wrong substance and I would have to retake the glucose test. I am FUMING, CRYING, and ENRAGED.

Fast forward: I retake the glucose test. I get a call that evening that I failed my test (which means my blood didn’t regulate the sugar drink within the hour). I already knew this would be my fate. So now I have to do the more strenuous glucose test. Oh joy. This one would be three hours of waiting and blood draws and nausea.

Photo by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash

I wasn’t allowed to eat beforehand once again. As I enter the hospital this time, I am terrified. Everything that could possibly go wrong has run through my head at this point. Before I even get the drink this time, they have to test my blood. As I sit down in the familiar chair, the nurse starts attempting to get to work. I say attempting because once again, my veins are hiding.

Reinforcements are called. But this time they are having issues as well. The top blood drawer in the facility is called to try and uncover my veins. She can’t do it either. 5 pokes later and they give up. I am told to go home and that we would try some other time.

Devastation overtakes me. I cry in the car because I just wanted to get this over with. I already know I am going to fail. At my next appointment, I ask my doctor if she can just write down that I failed so I wouldn’t have to go through this.

“I would rather you get out of having to take your blood sugar four times a day and being on a special diet.”

HAH! Joke’s on me because I DIDN’T get out of it. I failed my four hour long glucose test just BARELY. It’s like the universe was playing some cruel joke on me. And the joke didn’t stop there.

I was set up with a “nutritionist”. She is put into quotations because she didn’t know what she was doing and I almost died because of it. No this is not an exaggeration. I followed the plan she gave me to a T. It wasn’t enough sugar for me a I almost dropped into a diabetic coma. My blood sugar went all the way down to 53 mg/dL. For reference, normal blood sugar levels are between 80 and 100 mg/dL. Mine was constantly between 80 and 70 while I was following this diet.

I made it through on the other side with my healthy boy and that is the moral of my story. No matter what my body went through, my baby was okay! If you have gestational diabetes, as long as you take care of yourself, there is no reason to fear. In most cases, you will give birth and your diabetes will be gone.

The Truth!

I have complied this comprehensive list based on my own gestational diabetes experience. This is really what gestational diabetes experience looks like!

The glucose drink isn’t THAT bad.

Honestly, it’s just a melted popsicle. I won’t go as far as to say you will like it like I did. But it’s not like some kind of horrible witch’s concoction that will force you to puke like it was portrayed to me. And it’s chilled. They keep it in the fridge to stay cold, which I think helped a great deal!

The test isn’t fun, but it’s do-able

Take it from me, I had to do it twice. At the time, I was so upset about the whole experience. But looking back on it, it really wasn’t the worst thing ever. I got through it twice after all! Maybe it’s because I had my baby that now I understand true suffering! Just bring something fun to do while you wait and you can get through it no problem!

You have to get your blood draw 4 times for the actual glucose test

Yes, FOUR times. You go in and get your blood drawn, then drink the glucose drink, then get your blood drawn 3 more times at 1 hour intervals. They do this to see how well you regulate sugar over time. If you fail two of the three draws after you drink the glucose, they consider you to have gestational diabetes. I failed my first one by 7 points and my third one by 1 point.

Don’t think you are out of the woods if you are “low-risk”

I was considered “low-risk”. I was a normal weight, below 25 years old, none of my first-degree family members had developed diabetes (yet), and I am white (which is the only race that isn’t at high risk for it). My doctor really didn’t think I would develop it, despite my mother having it. It all has to do with your own individual hormonal changes during pregnancy.

Drink TONS of water before the test

Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash

I had to take it twice because I didn’t drink enough water that morning. If you have hard to find veins, make SURE you are well hydrated so those veins pop up!

The gestational diabetes diet is not one size fits all

Because I had barely failed, the “normal” GD diet plan they hand out to everyone didn’t work for me and was actually very harmful to my health. My nutritionist should have looked at my scores and developed an individual plan. That is what EVERY nutritionist should do for their gestational diabetic patients. Especially if the patient severely failed the test!

You have to take your blood four times a day

Photo by Kate on Unsplash

You will be taught how to use and read the machine and all that jazz. It’s not too bad. It’s annoying but you quickly get used to pricking your fingers. If you want the least amount of pain, I would suggest pricking the sides of the pads of your fingers. NOT THE SIDES OF YOUR FINGERS. But the sides of the PADS of your fingers. The doctor will probably show you this trick. I barely felt it when I stuck myself there!

You will have to be induced if baby doesn’t come by due date or shortly after

I had to set up an induction date just in case my boy didn’t come on his due date. When you have gestational diabetes, your baby is at higher risk for getting too big if he stays in there for too long. My induction was set for the day after my due date. Luckily he was ready to come on his own right on time!

You and your baby will be OKAY

It isn’t common that your baby will get diabetes. Yes you may have a “high-risk” pregnancy, but doctors know what to do to combat the associated risks. Even my own horrible gestational diabetes story had a happy ending. Theoretically, being “high-risk” means you should get even more attention, care, and preparation from your doctors!

Have you had gestational diabetes? Were you recently diagnosed with it?

Let me know your own story in the comments!


  • Heather Johnson

    I personally did not have the glucose test during any of my three pregnancies. I was low risk and already eating healthy. If my weight had shot up, I would have done something. But all three of my kiddos were born healthy as well. I discussed the test with both my midwives, and I decided to skip the test at the time. But each woman and each pregnancy is totally different.

  • Angelle

    This was such an eye-opening and informative read. Thank you for sharing your experience with us– joys, scares, surprises and all. So sorry you had to endure so much but I’m so happy you and baby are doing just fine. Motherhood is such a beautiful blessing.

  • Joanna Stephens

    I completely agree I liked the taste of the glucose drink! I’m sorry you had a bad go around of blood draws and them not finding your veins easily. Every time I donate blood, I get the person who sticks me at least 3 times and at that point, I am regretting it.

  • Tara

    I dreaded the diabetes test, mine was 17 years ago for my first, so maybe it is better now 🙂 but it really wasn’t so bad. Thanks for sharing!

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