I Have Gestational Diabetes, When Will The Doctor Put Me On Insulin?

You May Be Wondering If You Will Need Insulin

One question that routinely pops up if an expectant mother has gestational diabetes, is at which stage of the pregnancy should insulin become a part of the medication prescribed. Most doctors prefer to treat patients the ‘natural’ way that is by altering the patient’s diet and encouraging a stricter exercise regime which could be beneficial in keeping excess weight off in addition to stabilizing sugar levels in the blood. If you face a similar problem of high blood sugar levels, it is quite possible that your doctor will conduct routine blood tests every few weeks or so, to test the effectiveness of the diet and exercise combination. In most cases, sugar levels can be brought under control and extra insulin shots are not necessary, but if your doctor advises it, just remember that it is these shots which can help to prevent further pregnancy complications.  This usually happens after 1-2 months of trying diet and exercise, but it depends on your doctor’s practice.

What Is Insulin Used For In Gestational Diabetes?

Insulin is an important hormone that is secreted by the pancreas and which enables the conversion of glucose absorbed from food into energy. Sometimes, a pregnant mother may not even be aware that she has untreated gestational diabetes and in such cases, the pancreas works even harder to meet the body’s insulin requirement. However in such circumstances, there is also a chance that existing glucose levels in the mother’s blood can reach the baby through the placenta, which in turn forces the baby’s pancreas to product extra insulin for faster energy conversion. Extra glucose is then stored as fat and in many cases, such babies are later born with health problems including trouble in breathing properly.

What are insulin shots for gestational diabetes?

After conducting a thorough analysis of your blood test and sugar levels, your doctor will suggest the right type of insulin and the dosage to take. Insulin shots can either be rapid acting insulin or long acting insulin and usually U-100 is prescribed unless a patient requires a higher concentrated dose. You’ll find that insulin is packed in small glass bottles sealed with a rubber lid or in pen like cartridges which are stored in pharmacies at cooler temperatures. Insulin can be administered as an injection in the arm or thigh, given through a pump or by a jet indicator which sprays the insulin directly on the skin. Oral insulin medication is usually not advised for pregnant women.

Insulin pen needle

Insulin pen needle (Photo credit: Aki Hänninen)

Self-administration of insulin may take plenty of practice but it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions properly. And it doesn’t hurt to let your doctor know if you have a fear of needles either! Hundreds of women all over the world take insulin shots to prevent the possibility of complications in the baby and also to reduce weight gain in the baby and the mother from continually high blood sugars. But remember- even if you are advised to take insulin shots, it’s still important to take care of yourself by following a healthy diet and getting your daily dose of exercise. Although you may find self-injection uncomfortable and even painful, it will all be worth it in the end when you hold your healthy newborn in your arms!

Let me know if you have been told you will need insulin shots, and how you feel about it!  You will get some training from the nurse and doctors about the best way to administer a shot but you will have to get over the poking yourself issue.  You may already be over that with the 4 times daily blood sugar checks, though, and your insulin needle is very small – many women state it doesn’t hurt much at all.

Speaking of being on a gestational diabetic diet to control your blood sugars in conjunction with exercise and other medications – click here to get our book with meal plans and other great information about gestational diabetes.  The book is on amazon, and it’s a great resource with meal patterns and recipes for you.

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