How Much Exercise Do I Need to Do When I Have Gestational Diabetes?

Most women are reluctant to exercise during their pregnancy. They are afraid that some exercises might cause harm to the baby they are carrying. When they are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the fear of exercising increases since their condition becomes more delicate than normal pregnancy.

baby loveDespite this fear, doctors would even recommend exercising especially for pregnant women with gestational diabetes. The purpose of exercising is not to lose weight, but to maintain it and to prevent you from gaining excess weight that might be detrimental to you and your baby’s health. In gestational diabetes, your cells cannot utilize the excess glucose in your bloodstream because the insulin receptors in the cells are less responsive to insulin. That is the reason why you have to take the initiative of using up your excess glucose through exercising.

But exercising for pregnant women with gestational diabetes is not that simple. There are some considerations that you need to keep in mind to prevent adverse effects and complications. Here are some tips and guidelines that you need to remember to exercise safely during your gestational diabetes state:

  • Ask your doctor. First and foremost, your doctor should know about any exercise program that you are contemplating on starting. Your doctor will be able to advise you well on the dos and don’ts of exercising with gestational diabetes. In general, exercise is safe as long as you are not in danger of pre-term labor and delivery or you have no cardiovascular or pulmonary diseases that might hinder your ability to exercise. Ask your doctor for any warning signs or limitations in exercising during pregnancy.
  • Start slowly. If you were physically active before you got pregnant, take note that you cannot be as active as you were now that you are pregnant. High-impact sports should be avoided in general, and you have to start slow. You can try walking, yoga, and aerobics. Around 20 minutes per day three times a week is good to start, and you may increase your frequency as your body gets used to the exercise.  However, you should always ask your doctor about the amount of exercise that you should be doing. Ideally, you should be able to carry on a conversation comfortably while exercising.
  • Drink lots of water. Hydration is very important when you are exercising. This helps you prevent dehydration, which could lead to pre-term labor because it raises your body’s temperature. Drinking water while exercising can also prevent excess sodium in your body, thus avoiding swelling or edema.
  • Do not forget warm-up and cool-down exercises. Warming up prepares your muscles for exercise, helping you avoid stiffness and soreness in your muscles during and after exercising. Cooling down, on the other hand, gets your heart rate back to normal in a gradual manner. Warm-up and cool-down exercises should be done for about five to ten minutes per exercise routine.

Your pregnancy or gestational diabetes should never be a hindrance to your physical activities.

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Does Gestational Diabetes Get Worse With Subsequent Pregnancy?

Gestational Diabetes Subsequent Pregnancy

Gestational diabetes is a condition characterized by increased levels of glucose in the bloodstream during pregnancy. This is due to the fact that pregnancy produces hormones that increase insulin resistance, thus preventing glucose from entering the cells and being utilized into energy. I can affect gestational diabetes subsequent pregnancy!

gestational diabetes subsequent pregnancyOne of the worries that women have over gestational diabetes is its effect on their subsequent pregnancies. The first pregnancy with gestational diabetes is already difficult, so suffering from it the second and third time around is definitely something you would not want to look forward to. Unfortunately, studies have shown that those who develop gestational diabetes during their first pregnancy have a risk for developing this same condition in their subsequent pregnancies.

The study published by the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology online that the risk of developing gestational diabetes increases in each subsequent pregnancy, although there is no clear proof that it actually worsens with every occurrence. The risk increases by 13% every pregnancy, but if the pattern is broken, it only increases by 6%. For example, those who had gestational diabetes during their first pregnancy have a 13% chance of getting it the second time. If she had the same condition for the second time, the chance to get it again the third time increases to 26%. On the other hand, if the woman had gestational diabetes during her first pregnancy but not during her second pregnancy, her chance of suffering from the same condition during her third pregnancy decreases to 6%. All of these figures are in comparison with a woman who did not have gestational diabetes during her first pregnancy. Hence, having a healthy lifestyle is of adamant importance in order to prevent the development of gestational diabetes the first time.

Risk factors and risk reduction methods-gestational diabetes subsequent pregnancy

The biggest risk factor for the development of gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes mellitus has something to do with lifestyle factors. Those who love eating sweets and have sedentary lifestyles are the ones most at risk of getting gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Those who are overweight or obese also have increased chances of developing gestational diabetes. Hence, risk reduction strategies are focused on proper counseling on lifestyle modifications, such as promoting a healthy diet, incorporating exercise in one’s daily routine, and reducing and maintaining weight.

Aside from counseling, early identification of gestational diabetes is also important so as to immediately control blood sugar levels and prevent its adverse effects on both the mother and the baby. Pregnant women should have a schedule for prenatal care so that their doctors can monitor their blood sugar levels and provide appropriate solutions to their healthcare problems.

Also, women who developed gestational diabetes during their first pregnancy should request for screening for type 2 diabetes mellitus after six weeks postpartum. Their healthcare provider can help them modify their risk of developing gestational diabetes subsequent pregnancy and type 2 diabetes mellitus later on in life.

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Why Should I Care if I Have Gestational Diabetes?

Why Should I Care if I Have Gestational Diabetes?

Since gestational diabetes only occurs to pregnant women, most women have no idea what this means. Although many are familiar with what diabetes is in general, they do not know what to expect when it comes to gestational diabetes. Questions plague the mind of a woman who is newly-diagnosed with gestational diabetes: Is it the same as the common type 2 diabetes? What are its effects on me and my baby? Should I be alarmed? Should I even care? The answer to the last question is very simple: Yes, you should care. Just like any other types of diseases, you should take some precautionary measures if you are diagnosed with this condition. In order to help you understand the gravity to the situation, here are some information on what gestational diabetes is.

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a condition that manifests only during pregnancy. Just like the more commonly known diabetes type 2, gestational diabetes involves an increase in blood glucose or sugar levels. This is because the body cannot produce adequate amounts of insulin to match the glucose intake of the pregnant woman, since a pregnant woman’s insulin needs is multiplied to two or three times the normal insulin requirement. Moreover, a pregnant woman releases certain hormones that antagonize the action of insulin. Hence, control of blood sugar is important for women with gestational diabetes.

What are the effects of gestational diabetes?

So what if you have gestational diabetes? Remember that since you are carrying a child in your womb, this means that the effects of gestational diabetes might not only manifest on you, but also on your child. Glucose can cross the placental barrier since this is the main source of nutrients for your growing fetus. The child of a mother with gestational diabetes tends to be larger in size because of the amount of glucose that they get. This can pose some problems during delivery. If the baby is already too large before it becomes term, this might prompt the doctor to deliver the baby prematurely. If the baby reaches full term, s/he may be delivered via Caesarean section because s/he cannot fit inside the birth canal. Normal spontaneous delivery might injure the baby. Moreover, your baby can have periods of hypoglycemia during his/her first few days since his/her pancreas have gotten used to producing large amounts of insulin while still in the womb.

You can become affected as well. Those who have gestational diabetes have higher risks of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy because of the thick consistency of the blood. Hypertension during pregnancy, also known as preeclampsia, is a life-threatening condition for both the mother and the baby.

Based on the aforementioned effects, pregnant women should definitely care about their condition. Controlling blood sugar levels is of utmost importance to prevent any unwanted incidents. That being said, proper diet that is low in sugar and enough exercise should be practiced by women with gestational diabetes during pregnancy. If you want to learn more about the dietary recommendations for gestational diabetes and other related information, sign up for our newsletter.

What is the Difference Between Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational Diabetes?

What is the Difference Between Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational Diabetes?

Diabetes is a very common condition among the older population. Almost all people are familiar with this condition and they know that in order to manage this disease, one has to cut down on his/her sugar consumption. However, did you know that there are actually three types of diabetes? Although all three of them involve high blood sugar in the body, they have distinct differences that call for classification.

Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus

Those who congenitally have diabetes are classified under type 1 diabetes. This is often dubbed as juvenile diabetes because it is most common among children. However, it can still be diagnosed among adults. This type of diabetes is an autoimmune condition that permanently destroys the beta cells in the pancreas, which are responsible for producing insulin. Hence, the body can no longer produce any insulin.

Symptoms for type 1 diabetes is the same as that of type 2—there is thirst, fatigue, and frequent urination. However, people with type 1 diabetes mellitus are usually thin as they tend to lose weight since glucose is not properly absorbed by the body.

Treatment for type 1 diabetes involves insulin therapy. People should also make permanent lifestyle changes, such as having a healthy diet and becoming physically active. If not controlled or treated, this condition can lead to several complications such as heart disease, kidney disease, retinopathy, and stroke.

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

The most common and well-known type of diabetes is type 2 diabetes mellitus. It affects millions of people all over the world. Unlike type 1 diabetes, this type of diabetes is caused by lifestyle factors, such as being obese, having high blood pressure, and having high cholesterol. The beta cells of the pancreas still produce insulin, but this insulin is no longer effectively used by the body, thus resulting to insulin resistance and hyperglycemia. It is only during the advanced stages of type 2 diabetes mellitus that the beta cells can become damaged, hence resulting to insulin deficiency.

Treatment starts with diet modification and physical activity in order to lose weight. Oral hypoglycemic agents will be prescribed, and, depending on the severity of the illness, you may be asked to regularly monitor your blood sugar levels at home. If the oral medications are no longer working, you might also need to subject yourself to insulin therapy.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes, as its name suggests, happens only to pregnant women and is diagnosed during the second or third trimester. This is caused by the hormonal changes happening in your body. The hormones that are made by the placenta resist insulin, thus letting glucose stay in your bloodstream. This then causes high blood sugar. Moreover, your insulin needs as a pregnant woman increases by two or three times than the normal insulin needs because of the growing fetus inside your womb. All these factors pile up, giving you a condition known as gestational diabetes.

Women with gestational diabetes should control their blood glucose levels, as high blood sugar can have detrimental effects on both the mother and the baby. It is important to monitor your blood glucose levels regularly and to practice eating healthy and engaging in physical activities.

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My One Hour Glucose Tolerance Test Reading Was High

My One Hour Glucose Tolerance Test was High

Do I Have Gestational Diabetes?

Once you are suspected to have gestational diabetes, you will be subjected to an oral glucose tolerance test to determine whether or not you really have gestational diabetes. For most women who are going to undergo this test, this can be nerve-racking as they do not know what to expect. Hence, it is very important to educate yourself regarding the glucose tolerance test so that you know the preparation, the procedure, and the normal values for the test results. This will also prevent you from subjecting yourself to undue stress that might adversely affect your baby.

What is the one hour glucose tolerance test?

The oral glucose tolerance test, also known as the one-hour glucose challenge test, is administered between weeks 24 and 28 of your pregnancy. This test will initially determine whether or not you are at risk for developing gestational diabetes. The results of this test are not conclusive, for a high value is still subject to a confirmatory test, the three-hour glucose tolerance test. A high value in this test means that you indeed have gestational diabetes.

How do I prepare for the one hour glucose tolerance test?

For the one-hour glucose tolerance test, there is no preparation required. You can take it right there and then since no fasting is needed. However, if you are going to undergo the three-hour glucose tolerance test, you need to fast for 10 to 14 hours before the test. You should also refrain from drinking or eating anything during the three-hour duration of the test.

What happens in the one hour glucose tolerance test?

one hour glucose tolerance testIn the one-hour oral glucose tolerance test, you will be asked to drink a sugary beverage that contains 50 grams of glucose. After finishing the drink, your doctor will wait for one hour before testing your blood glucose levels. During this one hour, you cannot eat or drink anything. After one hour, your doctor will extract a blood sample from you and compare your values with that of the normal range. If your blood sugar level is less than 130 mg/dl, this means that you do not have gestational diabetes and you will not be subjected to any more tests. However, once the value exceeds 130 mg/dl, you might have gestational diabetes, but the doctor needs to make sure first. Hence, you will be subjected to the three-hour glucose tolerance test. This means that the results of the one-hour glucose tolerance test only determine the possibility of having gestational diabetes, but they do not establish the fact that you really have gestational diabetes.

Once you are subjected to the three-hour glucose tolerance test, your doctor will first draw a blood sample after your 14-hour fasting. Next, you will be asked to drink a sugary liquid containing 100 grams of glucose, then have your blood samples taken one, two, and three hours after finishing the drink. This means that your blood sample will be taken for a total of four times. The normal values for this test should be 95 mg/dl for your fasting blood sugar, 180 mg/dl after one hour, 155 mg/dl for two hours, and 140 mg/dl for three hours. Any two values exceeding this range confirm your condition of gestational diabetes.

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Is Gestational Diabetes Preventable?

Is Gestational Diabetes Preventable?

Gestational diabetes can happen to anyone who is pregnant. Although there are factors that increase the risk of gestational diabetes in a pregnant woman, there are some people who still get afflicted with this condition even though they have no prior risk to it. Hence, there is really no guarantee that you can prevent gestational diabetes, but having healthy lifestyle habits before you get pregnant can still make a difference. Even if you have gestational diabetes now, these healthy habits can help you prevent developing gestational diabetes in your future pregnancies. They can also help you avoid type 2 diabetes later in life.

If you want to prevent gestational diabetes, follow these simple tips:

  • Have a healthy diet. Since one of the risk factors of gestational diabetes is being overweight, the food that you eat counts a lot in preventing gestational diabetes. Opt for healthy choices, such as foods that are low in fat and sugar but high in fiber. Fatty and sweet foods can make you gain weight, and if you do not control what you eat, you are well on your way to becoming overweight, or worse, obese. On the other hand, high fiber foods promote better digestion and elimination, thus helping you lose weight. Eat a lot of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, since they are packed with vitamins and minerals and low in fat. Eating the same kinds of food can be boring, but the key is to strive for variety so that you can still eat nutritious food without compromising your health.
  • Exercise regularly. Diet always goes hand in hand with exercise. Although you can lose weight by simply eating smaller portions and healthier foods, your body will only be toned through exercise. Moreover, exercise is good for heart health. This is needed to prevent gestational diabetes complications such as hypertension and heart attack. In exercising, you can start with 30 minutes of moderate activity at least three times a week. Since you are pregnant, you don’t have to do high impact exercises. Simple walking, jogging, biking, and swimming already count as exercises. You can also chop your 30-minute exercise sessions into shorter periods throughout the day if you find the former tiring.
  • Lose weight before pregnancy. If you have plans of getting pregnant, make sure that your body is in tip top shape before you carry out your plan. That means you should make sure that you are not overweight so that you do not run the risk of developing gestational diabetes. Losing weight will not only benefit you in terms of your gestational diabetes, but also in terms of heart, muscle, and bone health. This can also improve your self-esteem dramatically. Doctors usually do no recommend losing weight while you are pregnant unless there is a necessity to do it, so you have no other time to lose weight but right now while you are still planning for your pregnancy.

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How is Gestational Diabetes Treated?

How is Gestational Diabetes Treated?

Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes is not the end of the world. Although the word “diabetes” might seem imposing to you since it is a chronic condition, remember that you can still do something about your condition because it only happens during pregnancy. Besides, it is of paramount importance that you do something about gestational diabetes so that it will not adversely affect your baby. To be able to cope with gestational diabetes in a healthy way, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Keep your blood glucose levels in check. Your aim is to keep your blood glucose levels within normal range, just like those pregnant women without gestational diabetes. It is important that you know the normal values so that you can easily monitor your blood sugar levels. Your blood glucose level should be 95 mg/dl before meals. One hour after eating, it should be less than 140 mg/dl. It should go back to the normal range of 120 mg/dl or less two hours after eating. In order to monitor this, you would need a blood glucose monitor at home. This should be used at least once a day, or more frequently as needed.
  • Lose weight before you get pregnant. Just like type 2 diabetes, women who are most at risk for developing gestational diabetes are those who love to eat and are overweight. Therefore, those who are more than 20% their ideal body weight should start thinking about going on a diet. This does not only mean that you have to decrease the amount of food that you take. You should also consider making healthier choices, such as eating a vegetable salad instead of a whole chocolate bar. You should also limit your fat intake, as this would also benefit your baby. In addition, exercising is an important component of losing weight. Even though you are pregnant, you can still exercise as long as you first consult your doctor regarding the exercises that are safe for your condition.
  • Monitor your baby. Even if you do not have gestational diabetes, you have to go on pre-natal checkups at least once every trimester. For women with gestational diabetes, this should be done more frequently. Your doctor will monitor your baby’s movements through kick counts to know whether your baby is moving less than usual. Fetal ultrasounds will also be done to see how big your baby is growing, and whether or not your gestational diabetes already affects the growth of the baby. Your baby might also be subjected to a non-stress test to see how your baby’s heart responds to movement.
  • Take your prescribed medications. You have to make sure that you control your blood sugar levels. However, if your blood sugar remains uncontrolled, you should ask your doctor about taking insulin shots. The good thing about these is that insulin cannot cross the placental barrier, so your baby will not be affected by this medication. But before taking insulin shots, your doctor might first give you oral hypoglycemic agents to lower down your blood sugar levels. Avoid self-medicating and always ask your doctor about the safety of your child when taking any type of medication during pregnancy.

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What Are Great Gestational Diabetes Snacks To Carry With You When You Have Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational Diabetes Snacks

When you have gestational diabetes, you might find it hard to decide on what kinds of snacks you need to eat. Some women might even avoid eating snacks altogether, making them very hungry during mealtimes. The truth is that women with gestational diabetes need to eat snacks in between meals. These gestational diabetes snacks keep you from getting hungry until your next meal, thus helping you not eat too much at mealtimes. This, in turn, will help keep your blood sugar levels in check. Moreover, it prevents the risk of having hypoglycemia in between meals.

Women with gestational diabetes are advised to have two to four snacks per day. Your gestational diabetes snacks choices will largely depend on how much you exercise and also the hypoglycemic agents you are taking. In general, however, here are some examples of snacks that have low glucose content and can be eaten by women with gestational diabetes:

  • Plain yogurt with natural sweetener – A cup of plain yogurt combined with an herbal sweetener like Stevia is a good dessert for women with GDM. You only get carbohydrates from yogurt, but since you use a natural sweetener, you don’t get extra calories or glucose.
  • Sugar-free gum – The chewing action that you make while chewing the gum in your mouth can give you a satiated feeling while you are waiting for your meals. Also, since this is sugar-free, you don’t get calories from it. You can also try munching on some sugar-free candies.
  • Unsalted almonds – 23 pieces of naturally unsalted almonds is only equal to five grams of carbohydrates, so you can enjoy quite a lot of these healthy and crunchy almonds without fearing a sudden spike in your blood sugar levels.
  • Fruit-flavored bottled water – You can find different variants of these fruit-flavored bottled waters in the supermarket. Whether carbonated or not, they taste like your favorite fruity drinks, only with no caffeine and no carbs. However, what you need to remember is that most of these fruit-flavored bottled waters contain Splenda, so always drink these in moderation.
  • gestational diabetes snacksLow-carbohydrate vegetables – You can munch on vegetables with low carbohydrate content like asparagus, artichoke, celery, and cucumbers. Although these veggies won’t really sate your sugar cravings, they act like the chewing gums that occupy your mouth while waiting for your meals.
  • Sweet pickles – You can get individual-sized servings from Mt. Olive. They give you a tangy flavor while still remaining sugar-free. Moreover, the strong flavor provides a feeling of satiety, thus quelling the appetite easily.

In choosing gestational diabetes snacks, you have to remember to always eat healthy, meaning indulge in foods that have low caloric and sugar content but contain nutrients and vitamins that you and your baby needs. You should also limit the carbohydrates you consume per snack to 1 to 2 carbohydrate choices. As for midnight snacks, you might also need to eat some, but make sure you talk to your health care provider first.

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Some Good Ways to Celebrate Spring with Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes Celebrating Spring

Gestational DiabetesNow that springtime is just around the corner, you might be wondering what activities you can do for this season. Remember, having gestational diabetes does not limit you to the things that you can do. There are still a lot of ways to enjoy this springtime, whether it be in terms of what you eat or what you do. In fact, this is the best time to fine tune your diabetes management plan because your mood is also probably at its best. Don’t be a bummer during springtime and indulge in the following activities and rejuvenating changes while the spirit of the season is still within you:

  • Take care of your feet. When you have any kind of diabetes, including gestational diabetes, your feet need to be showered with extra care to avoid developing diabetic feet. Spring is the best time to pamper your feet with a warm water soak that should not last for more than three minutes to avoid causing macerated skin. Also apply lotion to dry skin, but make sure that you do not leave moist areas, especially the area between your toes. Although you cannot indulge in a full-blown pedicure while you have gestational diabetes, you can still color your nails to get that springtime feeling.
  • Get out and walk. There is no better season to get out of the comfort of your own home and walk around your neighborhood than spring. The benefits of walking have been enumerated innumerable times already, and even if you are pregnant, this is still a great exercise for you. You can start by walking 20 minutes per day for at least three days per week. Just walk at the pace that your body is comfortable with. As your body gets used to the exercise, you can gradually increase your time and pace. Just make sure that you rest every few minutes, especially if you feel out of breath.
  • Eat fresh and keep hydrated. Springtime is also the season of lots of fresh fruits of vegetables that you can certainly indulge in. You can try a lot of unfamiliar fruits and veggies which contain a variety of vitamins and minerals that are good for you and for your baby. Just make sure that you watch the glucose content of what you eat. As for the hydration, good old water is still the best drink for you. You have to increase your water intake especially once the temperature starts to climb. Drinking eight glasses per day is good for women with gestational diabetes.
  • Volunteer for gestational diabetes. The best gift that you can give to other women suffering from gestational diabetes is your support. Make a difference by joining advocacy groups and sharing your experiences as someone with gestational diabetes. Not only will you learn a lot from these groups, but you will also be able to benefit them from your experiences and coping methods. Empowering other women with gestational diabetes will help them cope with their conditions.

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How Soon After I Have The Baby Should I Be Checked For Diabetes?

One of the worries that most women with gestational diabetes have in their minds is their condition after pregnancy and giving birth. Will they continue to have diabetes, or will their lifestyle be back to the way it was before they got pregnant? The answer is pretty simple: Your gestational diabetes will disappear once you are no longer pregnant. Otherwise, that would already be a case of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Now, the next question that would probably be plaguing your mind is this: How soon do I know this? In order for you to know the state of your blood glucose levels, you need to subject yourself to a postnatal check to determine if everything is okay with you and your baby.

The Postnatal Check

In reality, your pregnancy hormones will drop a few days after giving birth. Remember that these hormones are the ones responsible for the delay of glucose transportation from your bloodstream to your cells, hence causing gestational diabetes. However, you will only know this once you get a postnatal check.

Also known as the six-week check, your postnatal check will be done six to eight weeks after giving birth, or roughly two months after your delivery. You have to make an appointment with your doctor to have you and your baby checked.

If you had gestational diabetes during pregnancy, you may be asked to subject yourself to an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) during your postnatal check. Statistics show that one out of 50 women still have diabetes even after pregnancy, and this might mean that they had diabetes mellitus all along and they just had not realized this. Hence, this test will determine if your blood sugar levels have already returned to normal.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test

This is the same test that you are being subjected to during the diagnosis stage of gestational diabetes. Before the test, you need to fast overnight. Check with your health care provider regarding the intake of your maintenance medications.

Once you arrive at the clinic, a blood sample will be taken from you. This sample will be the basis for the baseline test, since this will measure the blood glucose levels during fasting. Afterwards, you will be asked to drink a sweet and sugary mixture, which is equivalent to 75 grams of glucose. You have to drink the whole mixture, after which another blood sample will be collected two hours after drinking the mixture. This next blood sample will be compared to the baseline sample to see how high your sugar levels rose and whether or not it is within the normal range. Take note that you should not eat or drink anything within the two-hour waiting time. You can only eat after the second blood sample has been taken. The result will usually be ready 48 hours after the test.

If you get a positive result from the test, it is likely that you have already developed type 2 diabetes mellitus. However, a negative result means your gestational diabetes had gone away and you can resume your normal routine.

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