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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.
- 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.
How to test your blood sugar
Here is a simple way to monitor your blood sugar at home.
Before you start testing your blood sugar:
- Talk with your doctor about how often and when you should test. Record your blood sugar testing times ( What is a PDF document? ).
- Link testing your blood sugar with other daily activities, such as right after preparing breakfast or right before your afternoon walk. This will help you establish the habit of self-testing.
- Gather the supplies 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.
- Many meters don't need a code from the test strips, but some will. If your meter does, 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.
- Most manufacturers recommend that you use your meter's sugar control solution the first time you use the meter, each time you open a new bottle of test strips, and whenever you need to check the accuracy of the meter's results. 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 sugar, the more you will know about how well your treatment is working.
Follow these steps when you test your blood sugar:
- Wash your hands with warm soapy water, and dry them well with a clean towel.
- 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.
- 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.
- Get your blood sugar meter ready. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for your specific meter.
- Use the lancet device to stick the side of your fingertip with the lancet. Some devices and blood sugar meters allow blood testing on other parts of the body, such as the forearm, leg, or hand. Be sure you know where your device can be used.
- Put a drop of blood on the correct spot of the test strip, covering the test area well.
- Using a clean cotton ball, apply pressure to the place where you stuck your finger (or other site) to stop the bleeding.
- 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 diary ( What is a PDF document? ). You can record other information such as your exercise and what you have eaten.
- Use the memory-storage feature of your meter and other note-taking features. Find out if your doctor can transfer the data to your medical record or if you can make reports to share.
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 before you prick your finger. 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.
- Use a different device. Some blood sugar meters need smaller drops of blood. Some blood sugar meters can use sites other than the fingers, such as the forearm, leg, or hand.
- Use a lancet with a different thickness, if possible. 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.
- Do not reuse the lancet. It can get dull and cause pain. A used lancet can carry bacteria that can make you sick. Some people reuse lancets anyway. If you do, wash your hands well each time. Keep the lancet covered with the lancet device cap. And use a new lancet each day to reduce the chance for bacteria growth.