Insulin injections are different to other injections you may have had before. Most women do not find insulin injections painful – they hurt less than taking finger stick glucose measurements.
You should be told:
- how to do this
- when to do this (usually before meals, at bedtime, or when you wake up)
- how much to take (you may need to take more as your pregnancy progresses)
- where to get advice and support if you have any questions.
Insulin can cause your blood sugar levels to fall to a low level (known as hypoglycaemia). You should be given information about how to treat and prevent hypoglycaemia.
Insulin is usually injected into fattier areas such as your tummy, bottom, flank or thighs. In late pregnancy, you might find it hard to reach your bottom or flank so you might prefer to use your thighs.
Your injection kit
To inject insulin safely, you’ll need:
- An insulin pen – This may have insulin in already, which you throw away after it’s empty. Or you may be able to reuse the pen by changing the insulin cartridge yourself.
- A needle – This is small and thin, as it only has to go just under the skin, not into a muscle or vein. These can only be used once.
- A sharps bin or needle clipper – This is where you will safely throw away your needle.
Steps to injecting insulin
Watch this film from Diabetes UK or follow the steps from their website below:
- Wash and dry your hands.
- Choose where you’re going to inject – You’re looking for fatty tissue so the main injection sites are your stomach (in a semi-circle under your belly button), sides of your thighs and your bum. It’s vital you choose a different spot each time – at least 1cm or half an inch from where you last injected. If not, hard lumps can appear that will stop your body absorbing and using the insulin properly.
- Attach the needle to your pen – You remove the outer and inner caps and dial up 2 units of insulin. Point your pen upwards and press the plunger until insulin appears from the top of the needle. This is known as priming, and helps regulate your dose by removing any air from the needle and cartridge.
- Dial your dose and make sure the spot you’re injecting is clean and dry.
- Insert the needle at a right angle (90° angle). You might want to gently pinch the skin before injecting. Press the plunger until the dial goes back to 0.
- Count to 10 slowly to give the insulin time to enter your body before removing the needle.
- Throw away the needle using your needle clipper or sharps bin. Your healthcare team will tell you how to get rid of the bin safely when full.