Injecting insulin

If you’ve been prescribed insulin, you’ll need to give yourself this as an injection. You’ll be given an insulin pen.

If you’ve been prescribed insulin injections, you’ll be shown how to do them yourself with an insulin pen. 

You may be prescribed insulin if changes to your diet, doing more exercise, and taking tablets, aren’t keeping your blood sugar (glucose) under control. 

How does insulin work?

Insulin is a hormone that can help to manage your blood sugar levels. It helps your body to use the glucose you get from food as energy. Without it, the glucose builds up in your bloodstream, which can cause health problems for you and your baby.

If you have gestational diabetes, your body isn’t making enough insulin. In this case, insulin injections may help to keep you and your baby safe.

All about insulin injections

Some people don’t like the idea of jabs. This is natural, but insulin injections are not like other injections you may have had before. Most people do not find insulin injections painful – they hurt less than a finger stick blood sugar test. 

You’ll be given an insulin pen so that you can inject yourself safely. Your healthcare team will tell you:

  • how to use the insulin pen
  • where to inject yourself
  • when to do this (for example, when you wake up, before meals, or at bedtime)
  • how much to take (you may need more as your pregnancy progresses)
  • what to do if your blood sugar falls too low (hypoglycaemia)
  • where to keep your insulin
  • where to get further advice and support.

Your injection kit

To inject insulin safely, you’ll need the following kit.

  • An insulin pen – This may be one with insulin in, which you throw away when it’s empty. Or you may get a pen that you can reuse by changing the insulin cartridge.a needle – This is small and thin, as it only has to inject a small amount just under the skin. These can only be used once.
  • A sharps bin or needle clipper – This is so you can throw your used needles away safely.

"I had this little pack with a pen and other bits and bobs – the glucose level and then a little book where I wrote it down. It was so much part of my life, but I’ve completely forgotten about it now." 

Katie, mum of two

How to inject insulin

To learn how to inject insulin, watch this film from Diabetes UK or follow the steps below. 



  1. Wash and dry your hands.
  2. Choose where you’re going to inject. You need to inject into a layer of fat, so usually your tummy (in a semi-circle under your belly button), the sides of your thighs, or your bottom. In late pregnancy, you might find it easier to reach your thighs than your bottom. It’s vital to choose a different spot each time – at least 1cm (half an inch) from where you last jabbed. If not, hard lumps can appear that will stop your body absorbing and using the insulin properly. 
  3. Attach the needle to your pen – remove the outer and inner caps – and dial up two units of insulin. Point your pen upwards and press the plunger until a drop of insulin appears at the top. This removes any air from the needle and cartridge.
  4. Dial your dose and make sure the bit of skin you’re injecting into is clean (using warm water and soap) and dry.
  5. Insert the needle at a right angle (90°). You might want to gently pinch the skin before injecting. Press the plunger until the dial goes back to 0.
  6. Count to 10 slowly to give the insulin time to enter your body before you remove the needle.
  7. 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 it’s full.

Storing your insulin

Keep the insulin that you are using at room temperature (under 25°C). This makes it more comfortable to inject. You can keep insulin at room temperature for up to 28 days (four weeks). If your room gets hotter than 25°C, put your insulin in the fridge so that it does not get too hot.

Keep any insulin that you are not using in the fridge (at 2°C to 6°C). If you leave insulin out of the fridge for 28 days or more, throw it away as it may not work. 

Do not put insulin in the freezer, as this could damage it.

Some insulins may need to be stored slightly differently. Make sure you read the leaflet that comes with yours, or ask your healthcare team for advice.

Try not to be overwhelmed

Some people find the idea of an injection daunting at first. If your diagnosis has come as a shock, you may find it hard to take in what you need to do.

"I wish I’d had some sort of support group. I don’t think I realised how much of an impact the gestational diabetes would have on me until I was right in it." 


If you are unsure about any of the steps, contact your healthcare team. You can also talk to your GP.  

More support and information

You can contact the Diabetes UK Helpline in England, Wales or Northern Ireland on 0345 123 2399 or at [email protected]. If you're in Scotland call 0141 212 8710 or email [email protected].

The Tommy's Midwives' Helpline is a free phone line open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday for anyone who needs advice, reassurance or support on any pregnancy or planning for pregnancy issue. You can call 0800 0147 800 or email [email protected]

NICE (2020) Diabetes in pregnancy: management from preconception to the postnatal period. NICE guideline 3. Available at: (Accessed 27 March 2024) (Page last reviewed 16/12/2020) 

Electronic Medicines Compendium (2021) Lantus SoloStar 100 units/ml solution for injection in a pre filled pen - Summary of Product Characteristics. Available at: (Accessed 27 March 2024) (Page last reviewed 30/04/2021) 

Diabetes UK (2022) Injecting insulin. Available at: (Accessed 27 March 2024) (Page last reviewed 29/09/2022. Next review due 29/09/2025)

Diabetes UK (nd.) What is insulin? Available at: (Accessed 27 March 2024)

NHS (2022) Gestational diabetes. Available at: (Accessed 27 March 2024) (Page last reviewed 08/12/2022. Next review due 08/12/2025) Page last reviewed: 08 December 2022, Next review due: 08 December 2025

Review dates
Reviewed: 27 March 2024
Next review: 27 March 2027