Glucose Tolerance Test:
An Attempt to Pathologize a Normal Response
Read about the medical realities of prenatal testing
This test is done at 24-25 weeks and is becoming routine. Of those tested, only 2 to 3% will have blood sugar levels deemed abnormal for pregnancy. Of this number, 85% can control their blood sugar level with diet alone.
In the GTT test, the pregnant woman fasts all night, goes to the lab in the morning, and drinks 100 grams of glucose. This is the equivalent of about four candybars-worth of sugar. Even a healthy pregnant woman cannot tolerate 8 to 12 hours of fasting followed by such a large quanitity of an unhealthy substance. Most women who test high in the GTT have normal blood sugar levels when eating their regular diets.
According to the website Diabetes.com , pregnancy hormones cause some people to be insulin-resistant, especially during the last trimester.
This is normal, and no cause for alarm. If a woman already has diabetes and is taking insulin, this means she will have to adjust her insulin levels during the third trimester. For all others, nothing need be done, other than try to balance the amount of carbohydrates eaten by eating protein with them, and avoiding refined sugars and white flour products. Raised glucose levels are the body's way of providing for the increased growth needs of the baby.
Researchers have found that screening with the GTT makes NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT on perinatal mortality. In other words, routine use of the GTT has not been shown to significantly benefit pregnant women and babies. The only people who benefit from this testing are those in whom previously existing diabetes is suspected.
If your birth attendant suggests this test, you can request the use of a hand-held glucose tester which would be used to test blood sugar levels 2 hours after meals throughout pregnancy. During pregnancy, blood sugar levels will be higher than normal because the baby is always growing and glucose needs to be readily available in the blood stream to meet the baby's immediate needs.
It is not good for the baby or for a mother to go all night without eating and then ingest so much sugar. I would not subject my baby to that danger. This test taxes the blood sugar regulating mechanisms to their utmost, and there is speculation that the test itself may set in motion these unhealthy blood sugar patterns which weren't present previously.
Why are some people concerned about elevated blood sugar levels? Because in some women, this tends to produce large babies. This is really no problem, since assuming the squatting position during delivery provides approximately 30% more room in the pelvis for the baby to pass through. Almost any baby can be born with 30% more room. However, many doctors are not aware of the benefits of the squatting position, and hospital birthing rooms do not have equipment to support the woman during squatting. It takes a woman who has practiced the position in a variety of self-supported stances, or who has a birth partner who is experienced and able to support her during birth. In the squatting position, the diaphragm puts just the right amount of natural pressure upon the top of the uterus, so the baby is literally propelled down the birth canal just by the simple act of being in the position. It also pulls the tailbone out of the way, and widens the pelvis to its greatest potential.
Some health care professionals are even questioning whether or not Gestational Diabetes is actually a disease, since it does not fit the criteria.
As a Certified
Educator and mother of two who still enjoys the potential of possibly
more children, I myself would not subject myself or my baby to the
Tolerance Test, since it does not produce any discernable benefits to
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