Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Oh, sugar!

It's here already - the bit of pre-natal care I hate most of all - the Gestation Diabetes screening test! It's been a thorn in my side since I was pregnant with my first baby.

As if fasting isn't painful enough (especially for the likes of me), the nasty breakfast syrup they make you ingest - followed by a torturous hour waiting, when your tummy feeds ravenously on the sugar swill you've just ingested before moving on to your stomach lining - is almost too much to take!

Then to top it all off, there's the caffeine headache to endure, after the all crucial 6:30am hit has been pushed back to elevenses. Oh what joy! By the time the hour is complete, the need to feel the needle puncture your vein is unbearable, when finally you can dare to dream of that long awaited Starbucks and muffn, while they suction out the necessary blood vile...

So you can imagine just how thrilled I was, when I heard about the 'little' adjustment they made to better this process - not only do I now have to wait 1 hour before they jab me with a needle, following this subjugation I then have to wait yet another hour for them to take a second 'time lapse' blood sample. I'm not kidding when I say they're 'out for blood!'...

Apparently they were getting too many borderline cases with the shorter test, and too many negative cases were being pulled in for the dreaded three hour testing.... so now they're splitting the difference with a definitive 2 hour test! I'm not sure if there's been a glucose screening technology breakthrough since I carried my second baby just over a year ago, but it strikes me if two hours can be definitive - why was there ever a need for three?

Which bodes the obvious question - why is it mandatory screening at all? Apparently it's not in other countries - and even in some states, unless you are in a high risk category, which I'm not. So I'm not too sure myself why I've not kicked up a stink about the testing this time around..

Perhaps I've finally been beaten into submission by the American medical industry. I was a lot more obstreperous with my first baby.

In 2009 I was one of those borderline cases, and instead of returning like a dutiful patient I disobeyed the 'mandatory'requirement that I be subjected to three hours of torture, and instead took the additional risk on my own head.

But not without a lot of independent research and pertinent questions for the Doc. In fact, my Doc turned out to be very pragmatic on the issue, and happily laid out the risks and ways to mitigate very clearly for me, so that I was able to make a well informed decision for myself. I had to fight the front desk admin tooth and nail for the right to make my own decision though, and of course they eventually capitulated. After all:

my body + my baby + my money = my choice

It might seem like a crazy thing to say, but the stress that was added during my first pregnancy due to the whole gestation screening saga was the hardest part of my whole pregnancy - including the labour!

It turns out that if you are diagnosed with Gestation Diabetes the first treatment step is to meet with a dietitian and start a healthy eating plan. Well OK. How about skip the testing and lets all start eating right? Which is what I did. So after opting out of the full length test, I adjusted my diet accordingly; basically reducing my sugar intake, converting to a 100% whole-wheat diet, substituting white potatoes for sweet, and upping my daily veggies. The result was a healthy 6lbs 9.6oz baby boy.

I had been a sugar culprit - packing away a daily bucket of draft coke and half a box of cookies to boot! It's easy to make these rookie mistakes - especially when everyone around keeps on provoking you with 'You're eating for two!' cheers. Everyone else loves to see a woman get fat and pregnant - it's makes the rest of the female population feel skinnier! But at 28 weeks it's apparently not too late to turn it all around, and after my 'borderline' scare I was a new pregnant woman!

The biggest threat that Gestation Diabetes poses is a large baby, meaning a possible early inducement and higher chance of Cesarean section - neither of which I was plumbing for, so I was more than happy to get on a healthy eating plan.

I'm not opposed to medical intervention when it's required, but I believe that over-doctoring can be the direct cause of many chaotic labours and needless c-sections when push comes to shove. And during my first pregnancy I read all the literature warning me about the impatient and panicky Docs out there who would rather treat my pregnancy as an 'illness' rather than support my body through it's natural process.

So understandably, I was a little on the defensive and armed with an iron clad birth plan to hold the Docs at bay. In spite of this, my birth experience was wonderful, and the hospital and Docs proved to be more clued in to the 'au naturale' way than the scare mongering books had me believe!!

With baby number two I was a much healthier eater from the start, and when the screening time came I didn't argue. Thankfully I whupped the test hands down. Apart from the inconvenience, the test was never an issue, but I did feel a pang of remorse that I hadn't had the balls to reject the initial screening altogether. It's a hard line gambling with your baby's healthcare, regardless of the fact that indeed in some cases Momma certainly does know best!!

So, third time is a charm - right? And do I have the guts to decline my two hour needless screening test? Do I heck! I'm scheduled for the long drawn out morning escapade in just two weeks time - which is a bit of a bugger in itself! My diet hasn't quite been up to par with my last pregnancy - especially as it started over Christmas and we've just had Easter! I had been thinking I'd get at least a month's fair warning to abstain and ixnay the candy and cupcakes from my system, but the timing has crept up on me, and at my prenatal check-up two days ago they scheduled me in for the screening with only a fortnights forewarning.

OK, so they say if you've got Gestation Diabetes your diet won't effect the result either way... and although it's hard to argue with the science, the fact that the the first stage of the 'fix' is a healthy diet plan makes me wonder; does the diet just keep an unruly system in check or would a healthy diet eradicate the diabetes risk in the first place?

In which case they must mean a short-term crash diet won't give a false negative result (however, ice-cream during your fast may yield a borderline - or even a false positive!!) and with only two weeks grace for me to attempt to sway the balance - maybe I'm a little too late to get out of the red zone - if indeed I am sugar saturated! I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Either way - the diet is ON - for better or for worse, as it should have been from the get-go! If the torturous two-hour glucose blood testing does nothing else accept further line the pockets of an already over-zealous prenatal gravy train, at least it has kicked my greedy ass back into healthy eating gear!


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