Have you been diagnosed with gestational diabetes or have an upcoming test? Are you wondering if being misdiagnosed with gestational diabetes is possible and what to do next if you suspect you’ve been misdiagnosed? Read on for my top tips and recommendations as a gestational diabetes dietitian and doula.
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Technically Yes, Let’s Talk About It
Technically speaking, the possibility of being misdiagnosed with gestational diabetes exists. Factors such as delayed digestion after a meal or heightened stress during the test can lead to skewed readings and results. Although, I think it’s important to note that research suggests we might be missing more instances of gestational diabetes than we are misdiagnosing. It’s a delicate balance, and if you suspect a misdiagnosis, a candid conversation with your healthcare provider can be helpful, but I also want to invite you to keep reading to see how a potential misdiagnosis can be an opportunity for reflection.
The Insulin Resistance Spectrum
As we talk about gestational diabetes and potentially being misdiagnosed with gestational diabetes, we also have to talk about the fact that there is a lot of nuance behind insulin resistance (the underlying “symptom” behind gestational diabetes). Individuals can have varying levels of resistance, making the diagnosis complex, and further adding to the “gray” area of a misdiagnosis.
You can have varying levels of insulin resistance based on preexisting conditions (PCOS, Diabetes, etc.), genetics, lifestyle, and so much more.
Try to keep this in mind as you consider your diagnosis, and remember that no two cases of gestational diabetes will be exactly the same.
Bias in the System
As an inclusive and weight neutral provider I also want to take a moment to acknowledge the possibility of biases that may arise during the screening process. Individuals from different racial backgrounds and those in larger bodies may encounter bias in the healthcare system that can impact the accuracy of the diagnosis. Research indicates that biases can affect the way healthcare providers perceive and interpret symptoms, leading to potential misdiagnosis or underdiagnosis. Providers may have unconscious biases that influence their recommendations for screenings, interventions, or even the interpretation of glucose tolerance test results. This can lead to a skewed representation of your actual condition, impacting the accuracy of your diagnosis.
Being aware of these biases is the first step. It empowers you to advocate for yourself during the screening and diagnostic process. If you suspect bias might be influencing your diagnosis, don’t hesitate to express your concerns to your healthcare provider or even seek a second opinion.
Using a Diagnosis as an Opportunity for Reflection
Let’s be real and acknowledge that no one wants a gestational diabetes diagnosis. Likewise, no one wants to be misdiagnosed with gestational diabetes. It’s natural to feel a mix of emotions post-diagnosis, from concern to frustration to anger. However, amidst the challenges of a diagnosis, I want you to consider viewing this period as an opportunity for self-reflection.
Take a moment to examine how this diagnosis made you feel about food and your body? Did you want to restrict? Shame yourself? Are there patterns or habits you’ve developed that may impact your pregnancy and overall health? This diagnosis, while unwelcome, might be a window into understanding your overall relationship with food and your body.
Consider journaling your food choices, feelings, and reactions. This can provide valuable insights into your food habits and routines. It’s not about restrictions or rigid rules; rather, it’s about understanding and adapting your approach to food to support both your well-being and that of your growing baby, regardless of a gestational diabetes diagnosis.
Pregnancy already brings about significant changes, and a gestational diabetes diagnosis can add another layer. Use this time to appreciate and connect with your body, recognizing its resilience and the incredible process it’s undergoing.
TLDR – A Balanced Perspective
In summary, yes, you can be misdiagnosed with gestational diabetes. This can be frustrating and disheartening, and it can also be an opportunity to evaluate your relationship with food. Implement gestational diabetes-friendly tips and embrace this period of reflection. It’s a complex journey, but any step you take towards better understanding your body and relationship with food is a step towards better health.
Next Steps if Diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes
If you find yourself diagnosed with GDM, remember, you’re not alone. You are allowed to seek a second opinion or ask to be retested if you wish.
If you are looking for practical support and encouragement as you go through the process of re-testing or working to manage your gestational diabetes, I’m here for you. Consider exploring the benefits of 1:1 coaching and join my virtual gestational diabetes support group to connect with other folks going through a similar season.
And if you’re looking to implement some nutrition changes, download my free snacking-on-the-go guide to get started.