Updated: Aug 2
This week, I had my first ever Gestational Diabetes (GD) screening appointment. Since this is my first pregnancy, I did some research ahead of time to have an idea of what this appointment might be like.
There were a lot of conflicting ideas out there surrounding this appointment, from "the drink is gross" to "it tastes like flat soda" to "I had to wait forever." Everyone's pregnancy is unique, so I can understand why there are such varied reports regarding the GD screening appointment.
Here are 10 things that I didn't expect at my GD screening appointment that might help you be better prepared for yours!
#1. You Don't Have to Fast Ahead of Time.
When I first got to the hospital for my appointment, I thought oh no, was I supposed to fast before this?
I thought that since I was getting bloodwork, I maybe was supposed to not eat for a certain amount of hours ahead of time. But I had just eaten breakfast before I left home!
Thankfully, there was no need for me to fast after all. If you have your GD screening appointment scheduled, don't worry about skipping any snacks or meals that day. Eat as you normally would.
#2. It Doesn't Always Happen Right at 28 Weeks.
All through my first two trimesters of pregnancy, I had thought the Gestational Diabetes screening would be done at 28 weeks. For me, it was scheduled for 27 and a half weeks, which I thought was just a few days early.
As it turns out, though, this screening is routinely given to expectant moms at anywhere from 24-28 weeks gestation. It can actually be given even earlier if your practitioner suspects that you may have it earlier on in your pregnancy. Cause for concern can be raised in your initial prenatal bloodwork results.
For me, that didn't happen, so my practitioner waited to give me the screening until the very end of my second trimester.
#3. You Might Get to Choose Your Flavor.
In reading articles about the GD screening ahead of time, I was under the impression that I'd be given a flavored sugary drink without any choice in what it tasted like.
i was surprised when the nurse asked me which of three flavors I wanted: lemon-lime, fruit punch, or orange. Honestly, all of them sounded pretty equally gross to me. (I'm a coffee and water kind of person.) So I randomly chose fruit punch.
I can't say whether this will be the same for you, but there's at least a chance you may get to pick your flavor, and you can choose the lesser of 3 evils.
#4. The Taste Isn't Bad, But It Stings!
When I took the first sip of the fruit punch glucose drink, I thought hey, this isn't so bad. The flavor itself really wasn't bad, just sort of like an ultra-concentrated version of Hi-C.
But then, I felt this burning, tingling kind of sensation on the roof of my mouth. It wasn't painful, but it was a bit uncomfortable and surprising. I think it must have been due to the extremely high sugar content, and the fact that my body wasn't accustomed to sugary drinks.
It was hard to get the whole bottle down, and I had to do so in 5 minutes. The bottle was pretty small, but still, those last few gulps were tricky for me.
Be prepared for the drink to possibly be hard to get down. Just know it's worth it to get screened and do what's best for you and baby!
#5. You May Feel Nauseous Afterwards. - You'll Wish You Had Brought a Bottle of Water With You!
As soon as I had finished the drink, I felt nauseous. I have been struggling with heartburn and acid reflux durig my pregnancy, and this drink seemed to bring it on strong for me.
Thankfully, I had a bottle of water with me. Drinking that right after the glucose drink helped make the stinging on the roof of my mouth go away, and kept my acid reflux somewhat under control.
Don't forget to bring your water bottle to your appointment!
#6. You'll Probably Be Offered the Tdap Vaccine at This Appointment.
I didn't expect that I'd be offered a vaccine shortly after chugging my fruit punch. It caught me off guard, since I hadn't heard that I'd be offered a vaccine at this point in my pregnancy.
My midwife explained to me that she recommended getting the Tdap vaccine for Tetnus and Whopping Cough. Even though I was up-to-date on all my vaccines, she told me that this one is routinely given to pregnant moms so that immunity to these diseases can be passed on to baby. For every pregnancy, regardless of how close together they are, she will recommend I get this vaccine at this point in my pregnancy.
Think about what you believe is best in regards to the Tdap vaccine before going to your GD Screening Appointment. You are allowed to refuse it, as there are some risks to getting any vaccine. But for me, the benefits to my baby outweighed the potential risks (which are very rare.)
#7. Postpartum Plans May Be Brought Up.
Since I still have a few months left in my pregnancy, I didn't think my midwife would bring up postpartum talk just yet. To my surprise, she asked me what my plans were for contraception after baby is here. We discussed options and also talked about spacing pregnancies for optimal health. She recommended waiting at least a year after giving birth to get pregnant again, as this reduces the risk of preterm birth and complications for me.
Before this appointment, think about what your plans are for postpartum. You may get the chance to discuss it with your practitioner and plan for the future.
#8. You Might Get Bored Waiting.
After the prenatal portion of the appointment, I had to wait a while until my blood could be drawn. From the time of finishing the glucose drink, I had to wait exactly an hour. About 30 minutes of that hour had been taken up by getting the Tdap vaccine, talking with my midwife, and having her do all the regular prenatal appointment procedures (listening to baby's heartbeat, measuring my belly, getting my weight, etc.)
Still, I had to wait about half an hour until my blood could be drawn. I know that isn't really that long, but it did get kind of boring for me.
Consider bringing something to entertain yourself, like a book or magazine.
#9. You Might Get Reminded Repeatedly What Will Happen If You Don't Pass.
All three people I interacted with throughout my GD screening appointment - the nurse, my midwife, and the blood lab technician - had experienced pregnancy before. They knew, from personal experience, what this screening was like on my end. And they also knew what I would face if I were to fail this test.
Each of them said something along the lines of "this screening isn't so bad, but hopefully you won't have to come back for the 3-hour screening!" I was reminded several times that, if I failed this initial screening, I would have to come back for another one where I'd have to wait 3 hours instead of just 1. I would also have to fast before that test. Doesn't sound like fun to me.
It did make me a little nervous being reminded of this, but even if I were to have to get the second round of screening, it would all be for the health of me and baby.
Don't let the reminders and the "what-ifs" get the best of you. Stay positive and remember it's likely that you won't have to come back for the 3-hour screening. And even if you have to, it's for the good purpose of catching a problem early on so you can continue to have a healthy pregnancy.
#10. You Won't Know Your Results Right Away.
Going into my GD screening appointment, I thought that I'd find out right away whether I needed to come back for the second round of testing or not. However, this didn't end up being the case. I was told that I'll find out within 2-3 days whether I need to schedule anoher round of testing or not.
You will most likely have to wait to find out yout results, too. But don't worry, you'll get the results in a timely manner and get direction on where to go from there.
Now you're ready for your Gestational Diabetes screening appointment! Enjoy this small step towards keeping yourself and your baby healthy.