Taking insulin during pregnancy

When your blood glucose levels stay raised despite meal planning and physical activity, insulin must be added to your management plan to keep you and your baby healthy.

Pregnancy requires that your body produce extra amounts of insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that is made by the pancreas. If your pancreas does not make enough insulin, injections can help you meet the need.

Your health care provider and diabetes educator will teach you how to inject insulin safely and comfortably.

Determining the right insulin and dosage

Your health care provider will decide what kind of insulin is right for you, how much to use and when you should take it, based on:

  • your weight (which changes weekly)
  • how far along your pregnancy is
  • your meal plan
  • your most recent blood glucose levels

Sometimes, you may need more than one type of insulin. Different types of insulin work at different speeds, and your health care provider may combine insulins to achieve the best results for you.

Time-action of different insulins

Insulins Starts working Peaks Stops working

Rapid acting:
Humalog® (lispro)
NovoLog® (aspart)
Apidra® (glulisine)

5 to 15 minutes

1 to 2 hours

2 to 4 hours

Intermediate acting:
NPH (N)

2 to 4 hours

4 to 8 hours

10 to 16 hours

Basal*:
Lantus® (glargine)
Levemir® (detemir)

2 hours

No peak

24 hours

*Lantus® and Levemir® cannot be mixed with any other insulin.

How to help insulin work best

  • Take your insulin at the same times each day as directed.
  • Talk with your health care provider if you feel sick. Follow any instructions your health care provider gives you.
  • Don't change your meal plan, physical activity, prescribed medicines or insulin routines without talking to your health care provider.

Pen devices

Most insulins are available in a pre-filled pen you throw away after use. See the product insert for specific use guidelines.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Gestational Diabetes: When You Have Diabetes During Pregnancy, third edition, ISBN 1-931876-21-6
Reviewed By: Reviewed by Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
First Published: 11/27/2006
Last Reviewed: 01/20/2014

Tip
Keep a record of the type and amount of insulin you take. It is important that you know and remember your insulin type every time you speak with a health care provider.