Gestational Diabetes: Dealing With Low Blood Sugar


Women who take insulin shots or take the medicine glyburide are at risk for low blood sugar levels. Most women with gestational diabetes do not have problems with low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). If your blood sugar (glucose) drops very low, make sure to get treated immediately so that neither you nor your baby is harmed.

  • Low blood sugar occurs when the sugar level in the blood drops below what the body needs to function normally. Women who take insulin may get low blood sugar if they don't eat enough food, skip meals, exercise more than usual, or take too much insulin.
  • These steps can help you avoid a life-threatening emergency from low blood sugar:
    • Test your blood sugar often so that you don't have to guess when your blood sugar is low.
    • Know the signs of low blood sugar, such as sweating, shakiness, hunger, blurred vision, and dizziness.
    • The best treatment for low blood sugar is to eat glucose or sucrose tablets or solution. If glucose or sucrose are not available, eat something from the list of quick-sugar foods. Liquids will raise your blood sugar faster than solid foods. Keep the list of quick-sugar foods in a convenient place. Wait 15 minutes after eating the glucose or sucrose or quick-sugar food, and, if possible, check your blood sugar again.
    • Keep some sucrose tablets or solution or quick-sugar foods with you at all times. Eat some at the first sign of low blood sugar.
    • Take precautions when you are driving and do not drive if your blood sugar is low.
    • Teach your friends and co-workers what to do if your blood sugar is very low.

How to deal with low blood sugar emergencies

Here are some ways you can prevent and manage low blood sugar emergencies.

Be prepared

Although most women with gestational diabetes do not have problems with low blood sugar, you should always be prepared for the possibility.

  • Keep some glucose or sucrose tablets or solution or quick-sugar foods with you at all times. If you are at home, you will probably already have something close at hand that contains sugar, such as table sugar or fruit juice. Carry some glucose or sucrose tablets or solution with you when you are away from home. To avoid causing high blood sugar, choose foods that contain about 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrate.
  • Learn the symptoms of low blood sugar, such as sweating, blurred vision, and confusion. Carry a list of the symptoms with you at all times, and post the list at home and work.
  • Wear medical identification in case your blood sugar drops very low and you need help.
  • Keep a copy of instructions on how to use your blood sugar meter with the meter. Tell your family and friends where the instructions are and how to use your meter to check your blood sugar.
  • Post information on emergency care for low blood sugar in a convenient place at home and at work for other people to use if you need help during a low blood sugar episode.
  • Do not drive if your blood sugar is low. Your reflexes are slowed, and you could have a car crash. Talk to your doctor about safe blood sugar levels for driving.

Treat low blood sugar early

Treat low blood sugar levels as soon as the symptoms are noticed, whether by you or by someone else.

  • Check your blood sugar often.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions for dealing with low blood sugar when your blood sugar level is below 4.0 mmol/L.
  • Keep track of your symptoms and how you treated them in a low blood sugar level record .
  • Talk with your doctor if you have low blood sugar. If you are taking insulin, your dose may need to be adjusted.


Current as of: December 20, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Thomas M. Bailey, MD, CCFP - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator

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