In the last post, I talked about the 5 Ms of managing gestational diabetes – measure, meals, move, medication, and monitoring. Now let’s break it down. Today’s post is about the first M, measuring glucoses.
Measuring your glucoses
In our Maternal-Fetal Medicine practice, when you are referred for diabetic education and management, we issue diabetic supplies to you and show you how to use them.
The kit includes a glucometer, test strips, lancets, and a log book. We ask you to check blood glucoses four times daily – in the morning before breakfast, and two hours after starting each meal. Most glucometers are similar to each other; which meter you use depends on what your particular insurance plan covers. To check your blood glucose:
- Wash your hands or wipe off the finger you plan to test with an alcohol swab. Any substance on your hands can affect the reading.
- Take a test strip from the container and insert it into the bottom of the meter. This activates the meter. There will usually be a flashing symbol of some sort telling you that the machine is ready for you to place a drop of blood on the test strip.
- Using your lancet device, prick the side of one of your fingers. Place a drop of blood at the end of the test strip.
- Most meters will display a reading within 5-10 seconds.
The goal is to have blood glucose values of 95 mg/dl or less before breakfast, and 120 mg/dl or less after meals. You will be asked to contact your OB provider or the MFM office (whoever is managing your diabetes) weekly to report your glucoses, so that we can work together to achieve and maintain normal sugars.
3 simple tips for measuring
- Set an alarm: Getting into the habit of checking your glucoses takes time. When you are sitting down to eat, set an alarm for two hours later. Don’t rely on your memory. Some glucometers have an alarm that you can set, or you can use your cell phone alarm or your watch.
- Don’t get frustrated: Glucoses can be unpredictable. You may eat the same foods two days in a row, and your glucoses may not respond the same way. Glucoses levels are determined largely by your diet, but stress, exercise, quality of sleep, and timing of meals also play a role.
- Write it down: Record your glucoses, and report them to your provider regularly. Take your glucose log to every doctor visit.
As someone once wisely said, you can’t improve what you’re not measuring. Just checking your glucoses and recording them is half the work of gestational diabetes.