When is insulin needed for gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes affects between 3 and 20% percent of pregnant people. It is typically diagnosed between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy and is detected through a blood test. The condition occurs when a patient is unable to produce enough insulin to withstand the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy.

If you’re wondering, if insulin is safe during pregnancy, the answer is yes because insulin does not cross the placenta to enter the system of the fetus. However, doctors will typically recommend other methods of controlling blood glucose levels as a first step.

A registered dietitian may be called upon to help the patient adopt a healthy pregnancy diet, and physical activity may be recommended. Patients who are unable to manage blood glucose levels through diet and exercise alone may be prescribed insulin or other diabetes medications.

Insulin needs during pregnancy

Insulin needs during pregnancy will vary by patient and may even change throughout the pregnancy as the baby grows. The best way to determine insulin needs during pregnancy is to closely monitor the patient’s blood sugar level.

While insulin is safe during pregnancy, the effects of long-acting varieties have not been studied in pregnant women. Doctors typically prescribe fast-acting insulin, which starts working within minutes and must be taken with a meal, along with an intermediate-acting insulin overnight. Insulin therapy will usually stop after the baby is born, as the mother’s blood sugar levels should return to pre-pregnancy levels.

Gestational diabetes insulin side effects

Like all medications, Insulin has side effects. However, when used for treating gestational diabetes, there are few side effects associated with insulin. The most common side effect is low blood sugar. Contact a doctor immediately if you experience hives, trouble breathing, or swelling in the face, lips, tongue, or throat.


Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.