The Dreaded Gestational Diabetes Test: What To Expect!

Last Updated: January 15, 2024
Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

By Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

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I remember sitting with my mom at the doctor’s office as a little girl. She had a big bump and was drinking some weird orange punch. When I asked if I could try it too, she told me, “no, it’s for me and the baby. Besides, it’s really gross anyways.” Ah – the gestational diabetes test.

I watched her gulp down this syrupy drink and I remember feeling so bad for my poor mama, who had to drink it even though it was gross.

Fast forward a few years, and I was being handed the same drink- but this time for me. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and all I knew was that this drink is known to be really gross. I was nervous about it and dreading having to go through this test.

But after going through it personally, I realized that it’s really not anything to be too worried about. Here is what to expect with your gestational diabetes test, with some tips on how to pass it!

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What is the gestational diabetes test?

First of all, when I understood what this test was for, the whole experience seemed less scary. That’s pretty typical though- the more prepared you feel, the less scary pregnancy is!

Basically, during pregnancy, you can develop temporary diabetes depending on how your placenta develops. It has nothing to do with how healthy you eat or your genetics- it seems to be pretty random actually.

It’s pretty common as well- The American Diabetes Association said that pregnant women affected by it could be as high as 9%. If you have gestational diabetes, that means you have insulin resistance and you likely just have to change the way you eat for the remainder of your pregnancy (although, occasionally medications and/or insulin dependency is needed.) After the baby is born your body should go back to normal!

The Gestational Diabetes Test simply is to track how your body handles a high dose of sugar. That’s it.

Related Reading: The Best Tips For Dealing With Constipation During Pregnancy

Gestational diabetes test

This test is administered differently at different doctor’s offices, but generally, you’ll be handed a bottle filled with orange or clear liquid. Some will ask you to fast before, some don’t. You’ll have to drink it in a certain amount of time (mine was 5 minutes) and then wait an hour before getting your blood drawn.

I had the orange drink, and honestly, it was not that bad. And from what I’ve heard, the clear one is even better. Imagine a flat soda, or a melted popsicle. Kinda gross, but totally doable.

Most women have absolutely no problem drinking it, especially if you are used to eating sugar (like I am, haha). The only time I’ve heard that it can be harder is for women that hardly eat any sugar, or women that have extremely sensitive stomachs during pregnancy.

This is typically why they do this test in the middle of your second trimester when pregnant women typically feel their best. If you have an extremely sensitive stomach and are worried about keeping this sweet drink down, ask your doctor about alternatives. They often can work around your needs.

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Gestational diabetes test: Tips to pass

If you’re allowed to eat before, make sure you avoid CARBS and SUGAR. Any added carbs or sugar could throw off your results. Stick to protein, dairy, and veggies the day of your test. That’s really all you need to do to make sure you get accurate results.

I craved only sugar and carbs my whole pregnancy, so when I was told that I shouldn’t eat those the day of the test, I thought, “ok, what in the world should I eat then?” ?I ended up eating an omelet with cheese and veggies for breakfast, and some meat and potatoes for lunch. I passed the test just fine!

Gestational diabetes test: The aftermath

Like I said earlier, some women struggle to keep the drink down. This is rarer though- you’ll probably keep it down just fine. But that doesn’t mean you won’t have side effects!

I felt pretty shaky and had a pretty crazy sugar rush for a couple of hours. You may feel a little sick or nauseous after drinking it. Don’t feel bad if you need to take some time off! Either way, the side effects aren’t too bad and you’ll feel better in no time.

After you get your blood drawn and the test is over, you’ll typically hear your results in a couple of days. More likely than not, you’re all clear!

What if I fail the 1 hour test?

If you fail the 1-hour glucose test, your provider will most likely have you come back and repeat a 3-hr test. This time, you’ll be asked to fast before-hand, and drink a little bit more liquid (2x the amount, actually!). You’ll stay at your provider’s office for three hours after drinking the solution, and have your blood drawn three times (once per hour).

This three-hour test gives a much more accurate representation of how your body metabolizes sugar, and if you fail this test too, then you will be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Overall, for me, the 1-hour test was way over-hyped. Drinking that drink is the least of your pregnancy worries! You’ve got this, mama!

Looking for more info?

I put together a complete guide to Gestational Diabetes that covers in-depth what it is and what it means if you have a Gestational Diabetes diagnosis.

I talk a bit about prevention and the role of prenatal nutrition and exercise for those with GD. Head over and check it, mama! Knowledge is power.

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Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

As a labor and delivery nurse, I’ve spent countless hours with women who felt anxious — even fearful — about giving birth. I want you to know it doesn’t have to be that way for you!

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