Sometimes I loathe our reactionary medical system and the social pressures that go along with it. Tonight is one of those nights.
I will freely admit that I’ve had drinks since becoming pregnant, knowingly and willfully. The American Puritanism that insists any amount of alcohol during pregnancy is bad-bad-bad has been debunked by studies in Europe (not to mention 50,000 or so years of human existence). My feelings on it have been to drink when it sounds good and stop when it no longer tastes good. I have had one drink on a lot of occasions, two on a few, and three on I think two nights. Nothing beyond three, by my own (physical) inclination as much as a desire not to push the boundaries of moderation.
The medical information and advice available to most women is to abstain completely. There is no useful advice for how much is too much, and most women would never broach the subject with their OB – certainly in my doctor’s office I have played the pearl-clutching part of “oh, no, of course I would never drink in this condition!” because I have my own advised opinion that her propaganda isn’t going to influence.
Tonight, though, I am running into an actual medical issue where I feel like I cannot get decent advice, even from the internet, and it pisses me off that I cannot take this question to my doctor for a realistic answer without being lectured or lied to.
I came back with an “abnormal” reading on my OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test) which is the 1-hour screening that all pregnant women are recommended to get. If you fail this test, then you get the 3-hour screening to definitively determine if you have gestational diabetes. I am not sure what to make of my abnormal result; for the OGTT you have to shotgun the sugar equivalent of a 12-oz can of soda. I accidentally did mine after fasting for about 14 hours (you only have to fast for 2 for this one, and I planned to get up early enough to eat breakfast beforehand…didn’t happen so I had to do it on an empty stomach), and while I don’t avoid sugar or bread-like carbs, I do try to limit them. I doubt I have enough of the paleo lifestyle issue with sugar to affect my results, but considering I rarely to never bomb my system with that much sugar in a short period (especially first thing in the morning!) I do have to wonder if that affected my results. I guess I’ll find out for sure this weekend.
In the meantime, I have spent tonight freaking myself out about how to handle GD if it turns out I have it, not to mention that my OB’s perspective was to treat my diet like I could develop GD at any time since clearly (to her) I have *some* sort of problem processing glucose.
One of the things I wanted to know was whether alcohol will affect blood sugar levels in a way that I need to be aware of, should I be diagnosed with GD or take my doctor’s advice to restrict my diet as a precautionary measure. This is not an unreasonable question. However, four entire Google results pages yielded nothing but a repetition of the propaganda: “if you are pregnant you should never drink alcohol ever under any circumstances because it will kill your baby or make it come out all fucked up and shit and you are a horrible mother for even considering drinking a single drop or even making chicken marsala because that has cooking wine and all alcohol is bad-bad-bad while you are pregnant!” Not exactly helpful information – not even a single “we advise against alcohol consumption but if you must do it, then know this…” type of page. Nothing. Not a fucking word about how alcohol interacts with GD.
Then I found this gem on a diabetes management site:
“Alcohol has the opposite effect. The body normally stores excess glucose in the liver and muscles in the form of glycogen and converts the glycogen back to glucose when your blood sugar levels fall too low. But alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to make that conversion…”
“…Women with gestational diabetes should avoid alcohol altogether, though for reasons unrelated to their diabetes.”
So what I’m gathering is that I should have a glass of wine when my blood sugar gets too high?
I kid. I realize that an inability to release additional glucose is not the same as a means of lowering a too-high glucose level. But my original question remains unanswered, and my point remains: how the hell AM I supposed to know what effect a beer or a couple fingers of scotch will have on my GD if the medical establishment is so afraid of any pregnant woman drinking anything that they won’t even release information on its effects when they are actually potentially most harmful?
I’m going to go try not to throw up and attempt to sleep now. Fuck yeah tests with a false positive 75% of the time that are making sleep-deprived stressed out pregnant ladies lose even more rest and feel even more stressed unnecessarily!