It wasn’t my first time chatting about glucose screening at a checkup. I was prepared for the conversation, I was empowered knowing my choices, and I knew that ultimately the choice was MINE to make.
You see, with my first pregnancy I did everything my OB suggested, trusting that he knew best. I fasted before the screening like I was told, I drank the nasty orange drink like I was told, and then I waited. For two hours beyond the normal time because the lab was understaffed. Imagine if you will, a tired, very hungry, pregnant woman being told she had to wait even longer before she could eat normal food. It was not pretty. But I tested “in the clear” for gestational diabetes.
Cut to four plus years later with my second pregnancy with our previous midwife/ND. A marvelous thing happened. She ASKED me what I wanted to do! We talked about options and she fully supported my decision to opt out of the glucose screening completely. Even though Bugsy was born at an even 10 pounds, gestational diabetes wasn’t an issue for me. I just make big babies. *wink*
Cut to four plus years later with my current pregnancy with a new team of midwives. Options were discussed again and I needed to make a choice soon as I was already in my 25th week. The gestational diabetes screening is done typically between the 24th and 28th weeks.
· Glucola or some similar brand (a.k.a. the orange drink; depending on the pharmaceutical brand, ingredients include 50g of glucose, water, dextrose from corn, natural flavoring, citric acid, sodium benzoate, FD&C yellow #6, and FD&C red #40 AND sometimes modified food starch, glycerol ester of wood resin, “natural flavoring”, brominated soybean oil, BHA, and sodium hexametaphosphate — a.k.a. non-food ingredients I’ve avoided for well over four years now)
· Breakfast glucose monitoring (which would be a specific breakfast, involving gluten)
· A homemade glucose drink (read: lots of cane sugar in water)
· Jelly beans
· At home glucose monitoring (which allows me to eat how I normally eat)
· Opting out entirely (which they weren’t too keen on given my age – it’s okay to roll your eyes at that, even the midwives did when they dutifully mentioned it – medically speaking, I am of “advanced maternal age”).
The first four options were not for me. In the past handful of years, I’ve changed the way I eat so much that even drinking a glass of sugar water didn’t seem right. I don’t go out of my way to spike my blood sugar. Sugar cravings are a beast to tackle, something I still work at even now. But I’ve come a long way! I consider junk-free dark chocolate to be a treat…
In an attempt to set everyone’s minds at ease and satisfy my own curiosity, I volunteered to monitor my glucose at home. That meant meditative breathing before each reading to silence the nagging thoughts of “OMG you’re going to get poked with a tiny NEEDLE when you push that button!”. It also meant better knowledge of how my body works, if it is breaking down those natural sugars like it’s supposed to, and if I’ve spiked my blood sugar without intending to.
I was asked to test three days in a row (each day I tested my “fasting” glucose which was when I woke up, then I chose two meals to test: both one hour after I started eating my meal and two hours after – example: day one breakfast/lunch – day two lunch/dinner day three breakfast/dinner). I also jotted down my meals (much to their delight and surprise, they always seem curious about how I eat) for reference.
Funny enough, I got through the testing with great numbers. The midwives were happy and I was sent home after a checkup at 27 weeks. That same day I received a phone call, one of the midwives was apologizing profusely and said she had bad news. *file that under things you don’t tell an expecting momma if there’s nothing wrong with her baby* The test strips I used in the kit they lent me were expired. So those “good” numbers were questionable. I took a breath and agreed to do another round of testing that weekend, before my 28th week.
Second time’s the charm?
I received a new test kit. Yes new. New lancet, new monitor, new test strips – just when I’d gotten used to testing with the other device I now have to figure this one out. And yes, I messed up several times even after reading the manual and I accidentally poked myself in a finger I hadn’t intended on poking because I held the lancet upside down. Go ahead and laugh. It was ridiculous.
This time I was only given 10 disposable lancets so I could only test one meal for both one and two hours after.
I was told that for an expecting mother without gestational diabetes the fasting reading should be below 95 mg/dl and readings two hours after eating should be below 120 mg/dl. Those are all considered “normal”. Here are my most recent glucose readings to give you an idea:
· · Fasting 86 mg/dl
· · One hour after 125 mg/dl
· · Two hours after 85 mg/dl
Lunch – Steamed egg salad, 4 cups greens, homemade poppyseed honey mustard, jicama sticks
· · Two hours after 86 mg/dl
· · Fasting 92 mg/dl
Breakfast – Rainbow chard, over medium egg, 2 lamb meatballs, ½ avocado, garlic sauerkraut, fresh berries, and tzatziki sweet potato salad.
· · Two hours after 82 mg/dl
Dinner – 1/3 cup curry white rice, 1 lobster tail with ghee, and 3 cups greens with homemade poppyseed honey mustard.
· · 2 hours after 107 mg/dl
· · Fasting 95 mg/dl
Lunch – Lamb meatballs, jicama and apple slaw with lime juice, cucumber, and freeze-dried sweet potato slices.
· · Two hours after 97 mg/dl
Dinner – Ground beef, 2 cups broccoli slaw, and plantain chips.
· · Two hours after 106 mg/dl
My midwives and I did discuss the borderline fasting numbers. We agreed that was because of snacking before bed. If I do have a carby snack before bed, I should include a healthy fat or do some sort of a light workout to let my body do its thing. 😉 Looking at these numbers I feel content and I’m glad I decided to go through with the at home testing. I am in the clear, once again. Of course, if I weren’t, I’d simply continue to monitor my levels at home and make it a point to go on walks after meals to bring numbers down.
If you’re on the fence about glucose monitoring choices, hopefully sharing my experience will help. You do have options, you do ultimately have the choice, and you do NOT have to drink that nasty orange drink.