Gestational Diabetes - Exams and Tests

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all women who are not already diagnosed with diabetes be tested for gestational diabetes after the 24th week of pregnancy.1

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that all pregnant women who are not already diagnosed with diabetes be tested for gestational diabetes between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy. The method for testing may vary. Experts think that each method works as well as the other one.2

The first method can be done in two steps. You do not need to stop eating or drinking before the first step. In this step, you drink a liquid that contains 50 grams of sugar (glucose). Your blood sample is taken 1 hour later. If you don't have a lot of sugar in your blood, you do not have gestational diabetes. If you do have a lot of sugar in your blood, you will be asked to do the second step, the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).

With the OGTT, you cannot eat or drink for at least 8 hours before the test. You will drink a liquid that contains 100 grams of sugar (glucose). Your blood sample is taken 3 hours later to see how much sugar is in your blood. If you don't have a lot of sugar in your blood, you don't have gestational diabetes. If you do have a lot of sugar in your blood, you do have gestational diabetes.

Some experts do not use the two-step method. They just use another version of the OGTT step. You cannot eat or drink for at least 8 hours before the test. You will drink a liquid that contains 75 grams of sugar (glucose). Your blood sample is taken 1 and then 2 hours later to see how much sugar is in your blood. If you don't have a lot of sugar in your blood, you do not have gestational diabetes. If you do have a lot of sugar in your blood, you do have gestational diabetes.

Tests during pregnancy

If you have gestational diabetes, your doctor will check your blood pressure at every visit. You will also have certain tests throughout your pregnancy to check your and your baby's health. These tests include:

  • Home blood sugar monitoring. Testing your blood sugar helps you know if your blood sugar level is within a target range.
  • Fetal ultrasound. This test may be used to estimate the age, weight, and health of your baby. The ultrasound test also can measure the size of your baby's head and abdomen. This measurement along with other information can be used to help your doctor decide on your care.
  • Nonstress test. A nonstress test can help you know how well your baby is doing by checking your baby's heartbeat in response to movement.

Some doctors may recommend you have a hemoglobin A1c (glycosylated hemoglobin) or a similar test every month during your pregnancy. The A1c test estimates your average blood sugar level over the previous 2 to 3 months.

Gestational Diabetes: Checking Your Blood Sugar

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Tests during labor and delivery

During labor and delivery, you and your baby will be monitored very closely.

  • Fetal heart monitoring is used to see how well your baby is doing while you are in labor.
  • Blood sugar tests are done regularly to make sure your blood sugar level is within a target range.

Tests after delivery

After your baby is born, your blood sugar level will be checked several times. Your baby's blood sugar level will also be checked several times within the first few hours after birth.

Follow-up

Even though your gestational diabetes will probably go away after your baby is born, you are at risk for gestational diabetes again and for type 2 diabetes later in life.

You may have a follow-up glucose tolerance test 6 to 12 weeks after your baby is born or after you stop breast-feeding your baby. If the results of this test are normal, experts recommend you get tested for type 2 diabetes at least every 3 years. Even if your sugar level is normal, you are at increased risk of developing diabetes in the future. Eating healthy foods and getting regular exercise can help prevent type 2 diabetes.

If you want to get pregnant again, it is a good idea to be tested for diabetes both before you become pregnant and early in your pregnancy.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

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