When you have gestational diabetes, insulin may become part of your management plan. And as with many medications, insulin may cause certain side effects. One of the most common side effects of insulin is hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose.
Insulin works to lower your blood glucose but it can cause it to drop too low if you don’t eat enough carbohydrate, delay or skip a meal; exercise more than usual; or your medication dose is too large.
To avoid hypoglycemia, you need to be careful to keep your insulin in balance with the other parts of your management plan. If your blood glucose does fall too low, your body doesn’t get the energy it needs to function.
The symptoms of hypoglycemia usually begin to happen when your blood glucose falls below 60 mg/dl. Symptoms you might experience include: headache, weakness, a cold sweat or clammy feeling, shakiness, hunger, irritability, and dizziness.
If you ignore it, hypoglycemia can get worse and you can pass out.
You should discuss the best way to deal with hypoglycemia with your diabetes care team, but here are some general guidelines:
If you experience any symptoms of Hypoglycemia, check your blood glucose. If it’s below 60mg/dl, or if you feel too shaky, confused, or weak to check it, follow this procedure.
Eat or drink something containing 15 grams of carbohydrate. This could be four to six ounces of fruit juice or regular soda, three to four glucose tablets, five to seven Life Savers, or eight ounces of non-fat milk.
Rest for 10 or 15 minutes. Recheck your glucose level. If it hasn’t risen above 60mg/dl, or if you still feel some symptoms, have 15 more grams of carbohydrate.
Once your blood glucose is in a safe range, you need to make sure it doesn’t drop again in the next few hours. If your next meal is scheduled within 30 minutes, eat it right away. If it’s more than 30 minutes away, have a snack of carbohydrate and protein.
Finally, write down any low blood glucose episodes in your blood glucose logbook to share with your diabetes care team.
Using your insulin safely and properly can help you achieve your blood glucose goals, improving your pregnancy health and reducing your risk for pregnancy complications that can arise from high blood glucose.
Reviewed by Jennifer Lincoln, March 2020