Gestational Diabetes: Monitoring Your Glucose
After you get diagnosed with gestational diabetes, your doctor will ask you to regularly check your blood glucose to monitor you and your baby.
Your blood sugar will change throughout the day based on your diet and physical activity. Checking your blood glucose will help you and your doctor determine how your diet and physical activity is affecting your blood glucose levels and if your treatment plan needs to be kept the same or altered.
You can check your blood glucose at home with a glucometer, a device which uses a drop of your blood to test your blood sugar level. Your doctor may have already shown you how to use a glucometer – it’s important to know how to test properly to get accurate results. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding glucose testing, the procedure to be followed and how often you should be testing.
Doctors often request that you check your blood glucose 2 days a week, 4-7 times a day but this may vary depending on your treatment plan. Usually the times your doctor will suggest you test your glucose are:
- Before and 1-2 hours after breakfast
- Before and 2 hours after lunch
- Before and 2 hours after dinner
- Bedtime (3 hours after dinner)
However, this may vary depending on treatment plan and you should follow your doctor’s guidelines about how frequently you should test.
How to test
Testing your glucose at short intervals can be overwhelming at first but over time you will get used to it. Since you will be checking your glucose quite often, it’s a good idea to understand how your glucometer works to avoid inaccurate readings and retesting. Ask your doctor or nurse to show you how to test yourself and do a practice run to ensure that you are doing it right! Here are some steps which are usually involved in testing for glucose:
- Wash your hands with warm water and soap. You can also use an alcohol swab. Wait for your hand to dry.
- Prick any finger tip with a small needle called a lancet and wipe out the first drop. Usually your middle or ring finger work better for testing. Pricking fingers on the side rather than the tip of the finger is better as there are less sensory receptors and pricking is less painful.
- Place the second drop on the test strip and wait for the result.
- After using a lancet to prick yourself, throw it away. Make sure to dispose of your testing supplies safely, as directed by your doctor.
A healthy blood glucose value varies depending on when you check. Generally, blood glucose levels are lowest when you wake in the morning before breakfast and highest after meals.
The Fifth International Workshop-Conference on Gestational Diabetes Mellitus recommended the following blood glucose targets for women with gestational diabetes
Blood Glucose Numbers for Women with Gestational Diabetes
|Time of Day||
Before meals and when you wake up
|95 or lower (5.3 mmol/L)|
1 hour after eating
140 or lower (7.8 mmol/L)
|2 hours after eating||
120 or lower (6.7 mmol/L)
Tracking blood glucose empowers you to take control and make sure your blood glucose stays in range.If it does not stay in range, speak with your doctor about what you need to do to lower your blood glucose.
Low Blood Glucose
Insulin and certain diabetes pills can cause blood glucose to dip low. Low blood sugar, also called hypoglycaemia, or hypo in short, needs to be treated immediately. Skipping a meal, exercising vigorously without snacks, or taking too much insulin are common causes for low blood sugar.
The signs of low blood glucose include sweating, shakiness, hunger, blurred vision, and dizziness.
When your blood sugar drops below a normal level, you may start to feel dizzy and shaky, get a headache, have blurred vision,start sweating or feel hungry. If your blood glucose dips below 70 mg/dl (3.9 mmol/L), follow the 15:15 rule, that is, you should immediately eat 1 tablespoon of sugar, 3-4 candies or a glass of fruit juice (which has 15 gms of carbohydrate). It is also important to rest for around 15 minutes and then test your blood glucose again.
If your blood glucose level increases above 70 mg/dl, you may proceed to eat a normal meal or a carbohydrate-containing snack like one slice of bread or one cup of milk or a fruit (if you do not plan to eat a regular meal within one hour).
Most women with gestational diabetes, controlled by diet or by a medication called metformin, are not at risk of hypoglycemia.
Test your blood glucose regularly and contact your doctor if hypoglycaemia episodes keep recurring.