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If You Need Insulin During Pregnancy

Your body may not be able to make enough insulin to keep your blood sugar under control during pregnancy. If this happens, you may need to take extra insulin or an oral antidiabetic agent, such as glyburide. Taking insulin helps control your blood sugar without harming your baby. Insulin is a natural substance and is not addictive. If you did not have diabetes before pregnancy, you will most likely be able to stop taking insulin after your baby is born.

Front view of pregnant woman with insulin injection sites.

Learning to take insulin

Your health care provider will prescribe your insulin. You will need to inject it one or more times a day. Insulin is injected into fatty tissue. It does not cross the placenta. That means it does not affect your baby the way taking a pill would. Your health care provider will teach you how to give yourself a shot. With practice, you’ll get comfortable doing it yourself. The best site for injecting insulin is your belly (abdomen). But you can also inject into an upper arm or thigh. Talk with your health care provider about where to give yourself a shot.

Finding the right dosage for you

Your health care provider will work with you to find the right dosage of insulin for you. This may take time. That’s because you need to balance your insulin with your food and exercise. Your body’s need for insulin also increases as your baby grows. To be sure your insulin is working properly, you’ll need to check your blood sugar several times a day. If your blood sugar is too high or too low, your health care provider will adjust your insulin.


Low blood sugar

Taking insulin puts you at risk of low blood sugar. Always treat low blood sugar right away:

  • Symptoms of low blood sugar include shakiness, dizziness, weakness, and confusion.

  • If you feel any of these symptoms, check your blood sugar right away.

  • To treat low blood sugar, eat 15 grams of fast-acting sugar (see below). Check your blood sugar again in 15 minutes. If your blood sugar is still low, eat another 15 grams of sugar.

  • If your blood sugar does not return to target range in 30 minutes, call your health care provider.

15 grams of fast-acting sugar equals

  • 3 glucose tablets

  • 5 to 6 pieces of hard candy

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey or sugar

  • ½ cup fruit juice or regular (non-diet) soda

  • 1 cup fat-free milk


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