The insulin is often contained in a pen device with a very small needle that works with a spring. The injections are not usually painful, though they may feel worse if you are anxious. Once people learn to relax, they often find that it is straightforward.
Insulin is usually injected into fattier areas such as your tummy, buttocks or thighs.
It is important to pick different areas to inject in rotation so that lumps don’t develop under the skin. These can stop the insulin being properly absorbed.
Some women feel worried about injecting into their tummy during pregnancy and prefer to use their thighs. In late pregnancy you might find it hard to reach your buttocks so your choice might be limited by where you can reach.
Steps to injecting insulin
Watch this film from Diabetes UK or follow the steps below
Your diabetes team will teach you how to inject insulin, but you can use these steps as a quick reminder.
You will need: a pen or syringe, a clean needle, a vial of insulin, a swab to clean the skin, a sharps bin for the used needle.
Step 1 Expel two units of insulin into the air to make sure the needle is completely full of insulin.
Step 2 Make sure you have the correct dose.
Step 3 Decide where you are going to inject.
Step 4 If you find the injections painful, rub ice on the area for 20 seconds. Then dry it.
Step 5 Gently pinch a fold of skin, if your team has taught you to do this (usually only if you are very slim).
Step 6 Put the needle in quickly.
Step 7 Inject the insulin, making sure you have pushed down the plunger or button fully.
Step 8 Count to ten before pulling the needle out.
Step 9 If you pinched a skin fold in Step 4, now let it go.
Step 10 Dispose of the needle safely in a sharps bin.
Step 11 If you have any problems at all, contact your diabetes team or call the Diabetes UK Careline
"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
Try not to be overwhelmed
For many women, the reality of fingerprick tests and injections can feel quite overwhelming – especially at first. If the news of your diagnosis has come as a shock, you may find it hard to take in the instructions of the new activities you will now have to carry out.
"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." Beth, mum of two
If you are unsure about any of the steps, contact your healthcare team as soon as possible. If it is out of hours, you could contact your GP, the Diabetes UK careline 0345 123 2399, Tommy’s helpline or try your local pharmacist.
Keep the insulin that you are currently using at room temperature (under 25°C) as this makes it more comfortable to inject.
Any insulin that you are not currently using needs to stay in the fridge, at 2–8°C.
If any insulin has been out of the fridge for 28 days, you will need to throw it away.
It must not get too cold or too warm either, so keep it away from the freezer compartment or sunny windows or radiators.
Most women are daunted initially by the unfamiliar territory they find themselves in with gestational diabetes. Find some tips here on how to cope mentally.
The emphasis is on trying to keep the birth as normal as possible unless there is a particular reason to do things differently.
Women who are overweight are at higher risk of developing gestational diabetes, although many women who develop it are not overweight at all.
Exercise during pregnancy has a wide range of benefits for you and your baby. If you have gestational diabetes, you have even more reason to exercise: it can help reduce your blood glucose.
If you have gestational diabetes, your diet will become an important part of managing your condition and keeping your pregnancy safe.
Gestational diabetes is treated by making changes to diet and exercise to manage blood sugar levels, and using medication if necessary.
If you have gestational diabetes, measuring your own blood glucose levels will become something you do regularly.
Some women can control their glucose levels through diet and exercise alone but the majority will need to take tablets or injections to help control it.
ℹLast reviewed on March 1st, 2015. Next review date March 1st, 2018.