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Gestational Diabetes: Checking Your Blood Sugar

What is an Actionset?

If you have gestational diabetes, you need to know when your blood sugar level is outside the target range. Fortunately, you can see what your blood sugar level is anywhere and anytime by using a home blood sugar meter. Within a minute or two, you can know what your blood sugar level is.

Key points

  • Knowing your blood sugar level helps you treat low or high blood sugar before it becomes an emergency.
  • Knowing your blood sugar level also helps you know how exercise and food affect your blood sugar and how much insulin to take (if you take insulin).
  • Checking your blood sugar helps you feel more in control of your diabetes during your pregnancy.
  • Four keys to success in monitoring your blood sugar are:
    • Keep your meter and supplies with you at all times.
    • Make it a habit to check your blood sugar level. Build it into your routine.
    • Prick the sides of your fingers, not the tips. The tip of a finger is more sensitive than its sides.
    • Check your blood sugar meter's accuracy when you visit your doctor. Compare your results with your doctor's results.

More information about the different types of diabetes can be found in these topics:

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You need to check your blood sugar every day to make sure it is staying in a target range. If it is staying too high, you may need to adjust your treatment, or you may need to start taking insulin if you are not taking it already. You can know what your blood sugar level is at any time by using a home blood sugar meter. This is often referred to as home blood sugar monitoring or self-testing.

You will need to test your blood sugar if you feel faint, dizzy, unusually tired, nervous, or jittery; if you break out in a cold sweat; if you have a headache; and/or if you feel sick to your stomach.

If you are using an insulin pump or if you use insulin more than once a day, you will need to test your blood sugar often. The number of times that you test may change every day, depending on when you eat, what you do, and how you feel. For example, you may need to test your blood sugar 5 times one day and 10 times the next day.

To test your blood sugar levelClick here to see an illustration. using a blood sugar meter, prick your finger with a small needle called a lancet to collect a drop of blood. Follow the instructions to prepare your test strip and meter to receive the blood sample. Within a few seconds to 2 minutes, the meter shows the results of your test.

Test Your Knowledge

Home blood sugar monitoring involves:

Testing the amount of sugar in a sample of blood drawn from a vein.
Testing the amount of sugar in a drop of blood from your finger.
Testing the amount of sugar in a urine sample.

Monitoring your blood sugar level at home helps put your mind at ease by helping you:

  • Know when your blood sugar is low. Most women who have gestational diabetes do not experience low blood sugar levels. If your blood sugar drops just below your target level and you quickly eat something that contains sugar, your blood sugar will not drop to a level that is dangerous for you and your baby.
  • Know when your blood sugar is high. Frequent high blood sugar levels may lead to high blood pressure, your baby growing too large to be delivered naturally, and your baby having low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) soon after birth.
  • Know what your blood sugar level is before a meal. If you take insulin, you can use your results to determine how much insulin to take.
  • Know how exercise affects your blood sugar. Exercise usually lowers your blood sugar level.
  • Know what your blood sugar is when you are sick. Severe illness or stress usually causes higher-than-normal blood sugar levels.
  • Know when the foods you eat or the amount of insulin you take (if you take insulin) needs to be adjusted.

Test Your Knowledge

Home blood sugar monitoring helps you know how exercise has affected your blood sugar.


Here is a simple way to monitor your blood sugar at home.

Get organized

Before you start testing your blood sugar:

  • Talk with your doctor about how often and when you should test. Record this information on the blood sugar testing times formClick here to view a form.(What is a PDF document?).
  • Link testing your blood sugar with other daily activities, such as preparing breakfast. This will help you establish the habit of self-testing.
  • Use the list of supplies to gather the things you need to test your blood sugar. Keep your supplies together so that you can do a test quickly if you need to.
  • Check your equipment before doing each test.
    • Check the expiration date on your testing strips. If you use test strips after the expiration date, you may not get accurate results.
    • Make sure the code numbers on the testing strips bottle match the numbers on your meter. If the numbers do not match, follow the instructions that come with your meter for changing the code numbers.
    • Check the accuracy of your meter's results. Use the sugar control solution made by your meter's manufacturer. Follow the instructions that came with your meter for using the control solution.
  • Take care of your equipment. Put a copy of the care of blood sugar supplies with your bag or kit to remind you.

Do the test

The more often you test your blood sugarClick here to see an illustration., the more you will know about how well your treatment is working.

Follow these steps when you test your blood sugar:

  1. Wash your hands with warm soapy water, and dry them well with a clean towel.
  2. Put a clean needle (lancet) in the lancet device. The lancet device is a pen-sized holder for the lancet. It holds and positions the lancet and controls how deeply the lancet goes into your skin.
  3. Get a test strip from your bottle of testing strips. Put the lid back on the bottle immediately to prevent moisture from affecting your other strips.
  4. Get your blood sugar meter ready. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for your specific meter.
  5. Use the lancet device to stick the side of your fingertip with the lancet.
  6. Put a drop of blood on the correct spot of the test strip, covering the test area well.
  7. Using a clean cotton ball, apply pressure to the place where you stuck your finger to stop the bleeding.
  8. Wait for the results. Some meters take only a few seconds to give you the results.

Record the results

Recording your blood sugar results is very important. Your doctor will use this record to see how well your treatment is working and to know if anything needs to be changed or if insulin needs to be started. Be sure to take your record with you on each visit to your doctor or diabetes educator.

To record your results, you can:

  • Use a blood sugar diaryClick here to view a form.(What is a PDF document?). You can record other information such as your exercise and what you have eaten.
  • Use your blood sugar meter, if possible. Some blood sugar meters can store blood sugar results, and some can calculate your average blood sugar for a period of time, such as over a few weeks or a month. Also, some blood sugar meters can transmit your results over the Internet to websites that store and track your results.

Preventing sore fingers

Your fingertips may get sore from testing your blood sugar so often. Here are some tips to help prevent sore fingers:

  • Do not prick the tip of your finger. It is more painful and harder to get enough blood to do the test accurately. Also, do not prick your toes, because your feet can become infected.
  • Don't squeeze your fingertip. If you have trouble getting a drop of blood large enough to cover the test area of the strip, hang your hand down below your waist and count to 5, or place your finger in warm water for a minute or so.
  • Use a different finger each time. Set a pattern for which finger you stick so that you will not use some fingers more than others. Avoid for a few days any fingers that are sore.
  • Use a different lancet. Some lancet devices can be set to prick your skin deeply or lightly depending on the thickness of your skin and where on your body you are getting the blood. If you use your lancet more than once, it will get more dull each time, which can be more painful. It is recommended you only use your lancet once and then throw it away.

Test Your Knowledge

To test your blood sugar, you need to put a drop of blood on the test strip used with your home blood sugar meter.


Now that you have read this information, you are ready to start monitoring your blood sugar levels at home.

Talk with your doctor

If you have questions about this information, take it with you when you visit your doctor.

If you haven't talked with your doctor about when and how often to test your blood sugar, do so during your next visit. On the blood sugar testing times formClick here to view a form.(What is a PDF document?), record the times you need to check your blood sugar each day, and record when you are stressed or ill.

Computerized records

Many blood sugar meter manufacturers offer computer software programs that allow blood sugar test results to be compiled and analyzed on your home computer. The computer results can then be printed out and carried with you when you visit your doctor. Some programs allow you to send the information to the doctor electronically.


American Diabetes Association (ADA)
1701 North Beauregard Street
Alexandria, VA 22311
Phone: 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383)
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is a national organization for health professionals and consumers. Almost every state has a local office. ADA sets the standards for the care of people with diabetes. Its focus is on research for the prevention and treatment of all types of diabetes. ADA provides patient and professional education mainly through its publications, which include the monthly magazine Diabetes Forecast, books, brochures, cookbooks and meal planning guides, and pamphlets. ADA also provides information for parents about caring for a child with diabetes.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Last RevisedJanuary 23, 2013

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