don’t eat the cucumber and other helpful tips for the gestational diabetes tests

This is not my first rodeo.

Three pregnancies in four years and you’d think I could walk through the pre-natal care routine backwards with my eyes closed, but no. No, I made some rookie mistakes last week and I want to share them so that a) you don’t do the same thing b) I remember for the next time, if there is one.

Just writing the words “next time” right now makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and find a corner to rock in. But I digress.

50ml drink.jpg

The one-hour gestational diabetes glucose test: It has a reputation that precedes it, and any formerly pregnant woman anywhere will strike up conversation about that blessed orange drink. First of all, the drink for this test is not as bad as lore makes it out to be. (Isn’t that true of so many things in pregnancy and birth? Hype does not equal reality.) I remember being pleasantly surprised during my first pregnancy to discover that it is carbonated and pretty much tastes like Orange Crush soda. Even for a non-pop drinker, I don’t think it is as much of a shock to the system as we preggos like to yack about.

For those who don’t know, you drink the soda, wait for an hour, and then they draw a vile of blood and test your blood sugar level. If it is lower than 140, you pass. Higher, you fail. The one-hour test has no official dietary guidelines except eating nothing between the glucose drink and your blood draw. Most practices and online pregnancy forums will tell you to watch your sugar and carb intake the day of the test, and to stick to a lot of protein.

My appointment for the one-hour test was Monday at 2:40 (rookie mistake number one). I had eggs for breakfast, a no-tortilla Chipotle burrito bowl for lunch, and cucumber slices for an afternoon snack before leaving for my midwife’s office (rookie mistake number two). I subsequently failed my one-hour test by one ever-loving point. The lab tech ran it twice to see if she could get it to register lower, but no. I walked out of there with a blood sugar level of 141.

one. forty. one.

About my rookie mistake number one: I will never, ever have this test in the afternoon again. I failed it with my first pregnancy, which was an afternoon appointment, passed it with my second, which was in the morning, and lo, failed it with my third in the afternoon. If I had woken up, eaten just those eggs and then taken the test, I would have passed (unless I had actually had gestational diabetes, in which case there is nothing I could have done to ‘cheat’ the test). Simply put, the lower your starting blood sugar level is (in a non-gestationally diabetic person) the lower your test result will be. The less you have eaten, the lower your score will be (again, in a non-GD person). It is not to your advantage to have two-thirds of a day’s worth of food in your system when they draw your blood.

poor veins.jpg

Rookie mistake number two: I ate a snack as I was walking out the door. No, this is not a fasting test and yes, I picked a pretty benign snack (cucumbers are literally 96% water) but again, when you fail by one cotton-headed point, it puts things in perspective. That cucumber was quite possible the difference between me passing and failing. Simply consuming something within a half an hour of starting the test was not to my advantage, regardless of what it was I ate. Now, I’m not saying I should have fasted for the test, but when the alternative is failing and subsequently taking the three hour version which IS a fasting test and will leave you on the verge of passing out (see: below), I would recommend forgoing the cucumber.

If I ever have this test again, I will make a morning appointment and I will pad my test by an hour or more of not eating anything.

Now let me paint for you the picture of what happens when one eats the cucumber and fails the previously discussed test.

My three-hour glucose gestational diabetes test: Not allowed to take a bite of food after 8:30pm the night before (12 hour fast), I woke up ravenous and headed to my early morning appointment. The lab technician took a baseline blood draw and gave me the even glucose-ier drink. For the three-hour test the drink has twice the concentration of sugar in it as the one hour orange soda. It was the same woman who had watched me fail by the thinnest of margins two days earlier, and she said that based on my one-hour score and my quite low starting blood sugar level that she wasn’t concerned that I actually had the condition. Then she said something that had me kicking myself, hard.

Did you ask your midwife if you could just take the one hour test again, given your score?”

What?!? NO. Of course I didn’t. I was told if you fail, you take the three-hour and I asked no further questions (rookie mistake number three).

Rookie mistake number three: I didn’t advocate for myself. Honestly I didn’t even think to. It’s not usually my style to ask questions or seek out exceptions, but really, what would the harm have been to call and just ask if I could have a do-over?

knitting waiting.jpg

For the next three hours, on the hour, the technician took another blood draw. Between draws I sat in marginally confortable lobby chairs and kicked myself for not asking for another one-hour test, while knitting a jumper for ODear. It was quiet and I really can’t complain about much except my poor arms.

My left arm has exactly zero visible or draw-able veins while my right arm has two nice big ones. One hour into my test and my main right vein was starting to bruise. The technician tried my left arm twice with no success, so she moved on to the secondary vein in my already bruised right elbow-pit. By the third hour, she drew from my hand because my arm was looking so abused.

In order to pass, your blood sugar scores must be below set levels at each hour. The good news was that by hour two, my score was already lower than what it needed to be at hour three. Basically, I had already passed with an hour to go. This time, I did ask if I could go ahead and go, but was told that no, in order for it to be an officially recorded test, it had to be a completed one.


The third draw was taken at exactly noon, 16 hours after I last had anything to eat. I did not stay to hear the number, but dashed out the door to a cafeteria-style restaurant across the street from the clinic. While standing in line ordering, my vision started to go grey at the edges and I felt shaky and weak. I mumbled something to the man taking my order and to DanO (who was with me at this point), abandoned my tray, and sat down at the nearest chair to put my head between my knees before there was a very pregnant woman unconscious on the restaurant floor. Once DanO had paid and I had enough strength to walk to our table, I went Augustus Gloop on my bread and chili. No talking, just eating. Quickly.  About six bites in, my phone rang and I ignored it. A couple minutes and a cheddar roll later, it rang again and this time I took the call.


It was the clinic. They wanted to inform me that my blood sugar level on the last draw was defined as “critically low”. They were calling to make sure I wasn’t driving and that I was in a place where I could get some food. This amused me to no end, and I informed the caller that I had, in fact, nearly passed out a few minutes ago but I was now doing very well.

“O good,” he said, “because that’s the lowest blood sugar I’ve ever seen.”

In summary: I don’t have gestational diabetes, but almost a week later I still have bruises to remind myself what to do differently if there’s a next time.

22 Responses to “don’t eat the cucumber and other helpful tips for the gestational diabetes tests”

  1. Annie

    Your blog is so much fun to read. Love that you include pictures and how you retell events. So thankful you did not pass out!
    I would guess many mamas will appreciate learning from your experience.
    Adorable baby bump!

  2. Lily

    I’m glad you cleared the test! I bet nothing tasted as good as the first bite after your fast.

  3. Laura Bishop

    I refused the glucose test with both of my pregnancies because I did a lot of reading on natural birthing and found that “the other side” of midwives found it to be unnecessary if you already eat a healthy diet and are a healthy weight.
    Plus that sugary drink scared me. I thought I may just throw it up anyways and mess up the test!

    • missy

      I know this is a year old but I am due to take this test next week and am curious where you found your info? I pushed back on the fake sugar chemical concoction drink and my midwife is allowing me to eat a high carb meal (I think they said 75g carbs) instead. I will take a fasting test, go eat, then get tested again a couple hours later. They are supposed to tell me what to eat but if it’s not something that I would normally eat then I’m not sure if it would really be accurate… if I fail the test then I will have to do the 3-hr test. Fake sugar and all. So I really want to pass. I already pretty much eat a diabetic diet (paleo, grain-free, little fruit or sugar) so I’m not worried about failing unless I have to do something out of my norm… like excess sugar/carbs. Anyway, just curious where you found that some people found it to be unnecessary because frankly I just don’t think the standard protocol gives accurate results for everyone.

  4. Nicole-Lynn

    Oh man, so sorry to hear about your visit. UGH. I would be so annoyed. I’m taking my test in a few weeks. I’m terrified of having to take the 3 hour test. I will listen to your advice to get a morning appt. and have eggs an hour or so before my appointment. Hopefully I pass! Thanks!

  5. Emily H.

    I’m having my first ever GD test in August at 25 weeks and have heard the horror stories. Your post was so helpful! I have a 10:30am appt. for the 1-hour and hope I pass. *fingers crossed* I’ve been reading your blog for almost 3 years and love it!

  6. Vanderbilt Wife

    I think I can appropriately say, “O My.”

    With my first, my appointment was late morning. I drank the drink and then my OB took such a long time to get there the blood-draw people had GONE TO LUNCH. Meanwhile, I thought I was going to pass out. They finally tracked someone down to take my blood probably because I looked like I WAS GOING TO KILL SOMEONE.

    I also swear by the lemon-lime if they offer it. I thought the red was nasty but lemon-lime tastes like Sprite and goes down much easier.

  7. Rin

    Great story. Other than the bruises…and the almost passing out… And the whole test.

    But how good is eating when you are rediculously hungry? Everything tastes amazing!

  8. R's Mom

    Thanks for the reminders/recap! I have my one-hour next month. With my first pregnancy, I also failed the first test by just a few points, and then passed the 3-hour. Hoping to just have to do the 1-hour this time!! This was a good reminder to schedule my test first thing in the morning!

  9. Caroline

    I’m very glad you passed but I was very worried in that last paragraph. I had my hand over my mouth, thinking ‘ I really hope this ends well’. I’m really glad that Dan O was with you and now my heart rate has returned to normal……..

  10. Sarah

    That glucose test SUCKS. For the record? I’ve done some research because I teach Lamaze now and basically that glucose test is *totally* unnecessary – gestational diabetes is just not a big enough deal that you HAVE to treat it even if you do have it. Literally, the research shows no difference in outcomes for moms that got treatment vs. those that didn’t. I wish I had known that *before* I had to give myself insulin injections when I was pregnant with Cole. I refused the test entirely when I was pregnant with Lulu, and suffered no ill effects.

    The passing rate totally varies according to your OB, too. I failed the one hour test with Cole with a 125…

  11. Ashley

    Oh no! Yours has to be just about the most eventful blood glucose test ever! I was mad that I had to re-schedule due to being 15 minutes over the time limit for drinking the orange drink due to driving from home to clinic on Wisconsin winter roads, but yours is definitely way worse. Hopefully the rest of the pregnancy goes smoothly!

  12. Michelle

    Why is it acceptable to make pregnant women fast in the first place? I’m guessing whoever designed that 3-hour test has never been pregnant.

    I did LOL at the phone call though!!!

  13. robyn L

    With my most recent pregnancy, I “fasted’ (i.e., had no time for breakfast) before my 1 hour glucose test, and failed it. So, I had to do the 3-hour test, which I passed with flying colors. The nurse said I probably failed the first one because I had fasted. Go figure.

  14. robyn L

    P.S. Sorry if that last comment is a little messed up. My squirmy 7-month-old is in my lap and he made me hit “submit” before I was ready. :)

  15. MrsHall07

    I have to take the 1 hour test this morning at 8:45. I came across your blog because I am supposed to fast this morning, nothing after midnight, but when I woke up, I accidentally grabbed my glass of soda from last night, made it around 11pm when I ate a salad, instead of my glass of water. I have always woke up dying of thirst so I pretty much downed the drink. After about 5 or so big gulps, I realized my mistake. that was about 4 hours before my test & now I’m freaking out, thinking I’m gonna fail. but every where I read that you’re good as long as you don’t have anything 2 hours before. I know I should tell them about the mix up I had but then again I’m thinking about only telling them IF I fail. what are yall’s thoughts? should I call them this morning & tell them or should I have the test done & only say something if I fail? I see a comment on here by RobinL saying fasting might be why she failed.. this is my second pregnancy & with my first, my appt was in the afternoon & I was told not to eat or drink anything 2 hours before. I passed that one & I don’t feel anything is different, no GD symptoms or anything. so, should I wait till my results to tell my Dr about the mix up or should I call tell them?

  16. Alexia

    You made me feel 500x better about taking the test-thank you! I had a bad experience with a nasty ct-scan drink when I had appendicitis and was terrified that I was looking at a repeat of that lol (and everyone’s stories just made it worse)

  17. Jennifer

    Your story is hilarious. I’m up for my long test in a couple of days. Thanks for the good laugh!

  18. Katie

    Taking this test next week and have always (2X) failed the one hour and passed the 3 hour, no problems. Also, I have LITTLE BITTY BABIES – clearly no GD here. Well, who in the heck has time to do a three hour test if you’re just going to pass it anyway? I didn’t know you could refuse without being treated as if you have it (doesn’t bother me, but the needle sticks to the baby STINK). I have an early afternoon test and was already planning to drop the carbs the day before but now I suppose I may fast most of the day. I have two dr’s appointments that day so at least I won’t be bored. ;-)

    By the way – glad to see the comments and the OP are by sane people. There are a lot of judgmental folks out there who pretty much think you should shove your face full of doughnuts before you take the test or you are “cheating”. Um… it’s not cheating to try to not get a false positive. :)


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