What Every Pregnant Woman Should Know About Gestational Diabetes


Did you know that 18% of pregnant women get diagnosed with gestational diabetes?  

Wow!  I had no idea till I spoke with Lily Nichols who is a Registered Dietician and a Certified Diabetes Educator.  And when I heard that, I knew I had to give you more information regarding Gestational Diabetes.  

The good news is that every pregnant woman gets tested for Gestational Diabetes, as they should because high blood sugar throughout pregnancy can cause all kinds of issues for mom and baby.  It's no joke.  It can cause pregnancy and birth complications as well.  For example when a mom has high blood sugar the baby's pancreas picks up the slack which increases the baby's chances for developing diabetes later in life.  Also, high blood sugar can limit the amount of oxygen the baby receives.  Yikes!  We'll get more detailed during my video interview with Lily, below. 



Here is how the glucose tolerance test works

Anytime between 24 - 28 weeks your healthcare provider will have you do the Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT).  This is a simple test called the One Hour GTT.  You will have to drink a 50 gm. glucose drink (it is like drinking 2 sodas back to back) and get a blood test one hour later.  Basically the doctor is testing to see if your body can bring your blood sugar levels down to normal.  If your blood sugar levels are below the cut-off number, then you “pass”. 

However, if you don’t pass, your provider will ask you to follow up with a diagnostic test called the Three Hour GTT.  You will be required to fast for 8 hours and get your blood drawn.  Then drink a 100 gm glucose drink and have your blood tested at 1, 2, and 3 hours.  If you fail 2 or more of the cut-offs you will be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

I've actually tried the glucose drink.  It's not as sweet as you'd think.  It comes in different flavors however, there are some ingredients that aren't so great for you or your baby.  But with that said the test is super important.  Check out Dr. Aviva Rohm's blog on Don't Drink The "Glucola" without Reading The Label. 


So what can you do?  

You can ask your doctor if you can do an alternative test. Your health care provider does have alternatives because some women are sensitive to glucola.  (But you MUST test your blood sugar levels).

  • During the 1st trimester, request the AIC Hemoglobin test.  It can give your doctor a picture of what your blood sugar levels look like for 2 - 3 months. You should request this test anyway so you can test your blood sugar levels early.
  • The Jelly Bean Test - lots of midwives do this test.  Basically you eat 28 jelly beans which also provide 50 grams of sugar and then your blood is taken an hour later.  The good news is that there are jelly beans that are free of food dyes, GMO's or artificial sweeteners.  FYI, some medical professionals don't think the Jelly Bean Test is as reliable as the Glucose Test but here is an article that says it is.  
  • Test your blood sugar level with a glucose meter when you first wake up, then again after breakfast, lunch and dinner, for 2 weeks.  Then you give the readings to your healthcare provider to asses whether your blood sugar levels are normal or not.  (Yes, this requires a lot of pricks on your fingers). 

Remember that your healthcare provider is part of your team and it is important to be able to communicate with him or her.  They want what's best for you and your baby. 

So let's get into the interview with Lily Nichols, RDN, CDE, CLT regarding Gestational Diabetes.  We had so much to talk about that I broke it down into a four part series.  Today I will share Part 1 and Part 2.  

Here's the 411 regarding Gestational Diabetes

In Part 1 of this interview, we talk about:

  • How Lily (accidentally) became an expert in gestational diabetes.
  • Her book that is about to come out called Real Food For Gestational Diabetes.
  • What gestational diabetes is?
  • Why all gestational diabetes aren't the same.
  • Why every woman should be screened for gestational diabetes in the first trimester.
  • What’s the problem with high blood sugar during pregnancy?
  • What are the short and long term risks of gestational diabetes to the baby?
  • How (and why) is a baby’s metabolism affected by gestational diabetes? (this one is key!)
  • What are the benefits of maintaining normal blood sugar when you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes?



In Part 2 of this interview, we talk about:

  • What can you do to prevent gestational diabetes?
  • Are there certain foods that can trigger gestational diabetes?
  • What are the risk factors for gestational diabetes? Which risk factors are in your control?
  • Which foods should women avoid to prevent (or manage) gestational diabetes?
  • How to use mindful eating to manage gestational diabetes.
  • An explanation of the Hunger Awareness Exercise that helps manage cravings and prevent overeating.
  • Is wheat pasta better than white pasta? What about rice pasta? Zucchini noodles?
  • How to combine foods to make a pasta meal healthier (and raise the blood sugar less).



Interesting right?  I hope you enjoyed it and found it informative.  If you want to contact Lily, you can at PilatesNutritionist.com .   Don't forget to checkout Part 3 & 4 of my interview regarding Gestational Diabetes in my next blog.   

If you find this information useful please feel free to share it with your friends and loved ones.  Don't forget to share and leave a comment below!  Can't wait to hear from you.