This week I ate a three-day diet of mac n cheese and cookies. Doctor’s orders.
So why did I suddenly have a super starchy diet? For my three-hour gestational diabetes test! What fun.
I took an early gestational diabetes test due to a family history of diabetes. I found these tests particularly amusing because I thought I had hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), believing I produced too much insulin instead of too little (basically the opposite of diabetes). Turns out I *don’t* have hypoglycemia, and the symptoms I displayed were thanks to migraines. Medical diagnoses is such a detective’s game.
I didn’t know that they would want me to take another gestational diabetes test later in term. I walked into the office one day and my CNM asked me if I’d taken the GD test, to which I said something along the lines of, “Months ago,” and she responded with something like, “Here, have another!”
Oh joy. So I took the second silly test. I did so around another doctor’s appointment, so it wasn’t a big time hassle. Unfortunately I was a couple of points over their threshold, so I was told I’d need to take the three-hour test.
Being told “you’ll have to sit in a lab for three hours and get stuck by needles four times” is bad enough. But I was not aware of the three day diet prior to said three hour needle sticking. You can eat other foods and snacks, but you must eat at least what’s on this list daily:
Breakfast: an egg or a piece of toast. Okay, simple, I can handle that.
Lunch: Two slices of bread, A cookie, a cup of pasta, cheese or a glass of milk. That is a ton of starch. I can do that if “lunch” takes three hours.
Dinner: Meat of your choice, 1 cup of veggies, 1 glass milk, a potato, pudding, and a few other things I can’t remember. Probably more bread.
I haven’t had pudding since elementary school. And I’ve been eating a low carb diet for over a year now. Following a severe allergic reaction to whey protein that led to an intolerance of gluten, I started avoiding carbs until my innards had healed up. It was hard to find breads and pastas that weren’t rich in gluten, so I avoided most of those foods. Then in my first trimester, I realized I wasn’t being irritated by gluten anymore, so I started consuming carbs more regularly, but not nearly as much as before. Now when I fill my diet with starchy carbs, I feel lethargic and prone to grouchy mood swings. Thus, I was not looking forward to a three day starch filled diet.
Being eight months pregnant, I also have very little stomach room, so I found myself needing to eat all day long in order to consume everything on the list. The idea that I could eat other foods as well was laughable. I went to bed feeling over-full, and I had nasty heartburn and indigestion nightly. But it was only three days, and then I could take the test and be done.
I set out early for the test and was delayed a half hour because the lab was busy and they needed to ensure that I could have my blood drawn at a consistent intervals. Apparently Friday is the day all the pregnant ladies come out for their 3 hour GD test. I had my fasting blood sugar drawn, drank the warm, flat orange drink, and was told that I could not eat or drink anything until they had drawn the last blood sample in three hours. I looked at my water bottle longingly and prayed I wouldn’t vomit bile. But three hours passed quickly with the help of a good book, then I popped some Tums, drained my water, and went on my merry way.
Shock of the century: I do not have GD.
This was the first test I felt was completely unnecessary. It wasted everyone’s time plus cost and resource at the lab. With a prior negative GD test and no signs of GD other than a few points past an arbitrary threshold, I felt there wasn’t cause enough for the three hour test. But seeing as this was the first test that I felt overstepped necessity, I’ll let it slide. I asked the midwives before taking the test if there was a way to avoid the test, to which they replied that there was, but it would require me to prick my fingers multiple times daily for two weeks and report back with the blood sugar levels. That option was obviously absurd. Many practices put their patients through the ringer with arbitrary tests. I’m just glad the practice I attend does not.
At my OB appointment I put a few labor and delivery concerns to rest by verifying that certain procedures that were routine a decade ago are now considered outdated or even archaic. I won’t be given an enema as soon as I arrive at the hospital, and I will be able to eat through labor if I please, though they prefer I eat bland foods.
While many outdated procedures are no longer practiced in major hospitals, it’s always best to discuss exactly what to expect with your caregiver. I took the hospital tour and at no point was I informed of what to expect upon admission, practically speaking. Discuss these procedures in advance with your OB, especially if something comes up that you’d like to avoid. For example, it’s common in my hospital to begin IV fluids, but I made it clear I want to avoid IVs if possible. This will require a “meet halfway” situation where I will have a line placed, but nothing attached unless my vitals become unstable or an emergency occurs.
Discuss your hospital’s routines in advance with your OB so that you don’t get blindsided by unnecessary procedures you could have avoided with their help. Your OB is often your advocate in the hospital, even if they’re not in your room. Discussing your wishes in advance will set your expectations on a realistic plane and give them opportunity to write advance orders if necessary. That being said, don’t be absent from your treatment in a hospital setting. Communicate openly and clearly with your nurses (or ask your spouse to do so for you if you aren’t being very coherent). Having a birth plan is good, but communication will go much further.