The Best Blood Sugar Testing Guide for Gestational Diabetes

gestational blood sugar testing

A gestational diabetes diagnosis can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be with the right support. Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels is a key component of managing gestational diabetes. Simply testing your blood sugar regularly can give important information to your care team to create the best and easiest plan to control your blood sugar. In this blog post, we will provide you with instructions on how to check blood sugar levels, what the target blood sugar levels should be when to test, and why consistent monitoring is important.

Target Blood Sugar Levels

Before delving into the details of blood sugar monitoring, it’s important to understand the target blood sugar levels for gestational diabetes. These levels may vary slightly from person to person, so it’s essential to work closely with your healthcare provider to establish your specific targets. However, these are the guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:

  • Fasting Blood Sugar (before meals): Less than 95 mg/dL
  • One-Hour Post-Meal Blood Sugar: Less than 140 mg/dL
  • Two-Hour Post-Meal Blood Sugar: Less than 120 mg/dL

Keep in mind that these are general recommendations, and your healthcare provider may recommend slightly different targets based on your individual circumstances.

When to Test

  • Fasting Blood Sugar: This test is typically performed when you wake up in the morning, before having breakfast. It provides a baseline measurement of your blood sugar level after an overnight fast. I recommend checking it first thing once you wake up. I have found that blood sugars tend to be higher when clients do other activities, like taking a shower, before checking their blood sugar.
  • Post-Meal Blood Sugar: You should check your blood sugar about one hour after starting your meal. This helps you gauge how your body processes the carbohydrates you consume. If you are unable to check at one hour or you are a very slow eater, you can test your blood sugars at the two-hour mark.
  • Occasional Testing: Your healthcare provider may also recommend occasional testing at other times, such as before bedtime or during the night, to gain a better understanding of your blood sugar patterns.

How to Test Your Blood Sugars

  • Gather Your Supplies: You’ll need a blood glucose meter, test strips, a lancet device (the needles you prick yourself with), and alcohol swabs. Ensure that your meter is properly calibrated (it should be if you just bought it) and that you have an adequate supply of test strips.
    • Note the test strips are the most expensive part of the kit. Keep test strips away from extreme temperatures and the sun.
  • Prepare Your Hands: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. Dry them completely to prevent any contaminants from affecting your reading. If you are not able to wash your hands, use the alcohol pads to clean the fingers.
    • DO NOT use hand sanitizer to clean your hands. That sanitizes it. It does not clean off food that may be rea on the meter.
  • Prepare the Lancing Device: Insert a lancet into the lancing device and adjust the depth setting according to your healthcare provider’s instructions. I tell clients that the 3 or 4 setting is usually good enough.
  • Lance Your Finger: Choose a fingertip and use the lancing device to prick it gently. Make sure when applying the lancing device skin goes in the hole, or it will not prick you. The needle does not go outside the plastic, so you must press your finger firmly. Once you prick your finger, a small drop of blood will appear.
  • Apply Blood to the Test Strip: Place the blood drop onto the test strip. Ensure that you follow the instructions provided with your specific meter for this step. The biggest mistake I see people make is that they put the blood drop in the wrong place. Make sure you align the drop with the area on the strip that absorbs the blood. See my video for full instructions.
  • Wait for the Result: Your blood glucose meter will display your blood sugar level within a few seconds.
  • Record Your Result: Keep a log of your blood sugar readings, including the date, time, and any relevant notes (such as what you ate or any physical activity you engaged in).

Tracking for Better Control

Consistency is crucial when tracking your blood sugar levels for gestational diabetes. Here are some tips to help you maintain accurate records and achieve better control:

  • Create a Routine: Set specific times each day for testing your blood sugar to establish a routine.
  • Keep a Detailed Log: Write down all your readings and any additional information, such as meals, exercise, sleep quality, or stress levels. This will help you identify patterns and make necessary adjustments. You can find my blood sugar log in my shop to download.
  • Stay in Communication: Share your blood sugar logs with your healthcare provider regularly. They can provide guidance and make necessary changes to your treatment plan if needed.
  • Learn to Interpret Trends: Pay attention to patterns in your blood sugar levels, such as consistently high readings after certain meals. This information can help you make dietary adjustments. Work with your medical provider, or you can sign up for coaching with me to help pinpoint areas to improve on.

The Importance of Consistent Monitoring

Consistent blood sugar monitoring is essential for several reasons:

  • Optimal Management: It allows you and your healthcare provider to make timely adjustments to your treatment plan, ensuring that your blood sugar levels remain within the target range.
  • Reduced Risks: Maintaining stable blood sugar levels can help prevent complications for both you and your baby, such as macrosomia (large birth weight) and neonatal hypoglycemia.
  • Personalized Care: Regular monitoring allows for personalized adjustments to your diet, exercise, and insulin regimen, if necessary, to meet your specific needs.

Conclusion

Managing gestational diabetes through regular blood sugar monitoring is a vital aspect of a healthy pregnancy. By following the guidelines provided by your healthcare provider and maintaining a consistent testing routine, you can ensure that your blood sugar levels stay within the recommended target range, reducing the risks associated with gestational diabetes and promoting a healthy pregnancy for both you and your baby. Always consult with your healthcare provider for individualized guidance and support throughout your pregnancy journey.

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Ginger Cochran is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, functional medicine practitioner, Certified Diabetes Educator & Care Specialist, Certified Wellness Coach, Certified Exercise Physiologist, and owner of Nutritious Ginger, an integrative and functional nutrition practice focusing on full body self-care and nourishment. Ginger’s primary specialty is women’s health, with a special emphasis on gestational diabetes, weight management, infertility, digestive wellness, and overall health + happiness.
Ginger serves on the board of director for the Nutrition Care Manual by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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