Pregnant woman is using a glucometer at home.
Guido Mieth/DigitalVision/Getty Images
6 Tips To Make Sugar Checks Suck Less, Because Gestational Diabetes Is Hard Enough, Thanks

You have to do them, but they don’t have to hurt.

Let’s be real for a second: having gestational diabetes sucks. You worry about how it will affect you and your baby. You have to relearn how to eat, carefully portioning and balancing carbs with proteins and fats, and oh my God this is a lot of thinking before every meal. You might even feel guilty, like something you did caused this (which is not true). And then, there’s the actual finger sticks — but thankfully, there are ways to make checking your blood sugar hurt less.

Still being transparent here, but of course, pricking your finger may always hurt just a little. You do have to poke your digit enough to draw a little droplet of blood. That said, it doesn’t have to be excruciating or cause lasting soreness. Especially if you’re someone who doesn’t love needles (who does?) or is getting really anxious before checking your blood sugar, having some little tricks up your sleeve to take the spice out of the stick can be helpful. They’re not magical cures for gestational diabetes and you’ll still have to check your levels however many times a day (for me, it was four), but they’re something. In my personal experience, and according to lots of other folks with diabetes online, these finger prick tricks really do help.


Use the shallowest lance setting possible.

Dani Serrano/Moment/Getty Images

Warming up your hands — either by rubbing them together or holding them under hot water — can also help improve your blood flow, according to Redditors. If you’ve had to use a deeper lance setting just to get a droplet of blood to appear, try heating up your hands before using a shallower setting to see if it helps.


Try thinner lancets.

The needles your glucometer uses to prick your finger, aka lancets, are actually available over-the-counter in most pharmacies. If you’re using the shallowest setting on your device but the stick is still painful, pick up a smaller gauge lancet.

It’s a little counterintuitive, but the higher gauge number on the box, the thinner and finer the needle will be. So, for example, a 33-gauge lancet should be thinner — and therefore less painful — than a 30-gauge one. Just be sure to pick the same brand of lancet as your glucometer so they’re compatible.


Prick the side of your finger instead of the pad.

Fingertips are for feeling, and all those nerve endings that make it possible also make it painful to prick them. Many people have less sensation on the sides of their fingers, so it might be worth a try.


Ice your fingertip first.

Harness the numbing power of ice, why don’t you? Ice your finger for a few minutes before checking your sugar to make the stick hurt a little bit less. When I had gestational diabetes, this helped me for my first few days of finger pricks until I got a little more used to the feeling.


Prick a different finger each time you test.

You may find that your fingertips get sore after being pricked repeatedly (understandable). Try varying which fingers you use. You may even find, as many people do, that testing on their middle, ring, and pinky fingers hurts less than the index finger or thumb.


Ask for a continuous glucose monitor.

martin-dm/E+/Getty Images

Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) mean just one needle stick for potentially your entire gestational diabetes journey this pregnancy — during the application of the sensor on your arm — since they can last for months at a time. After it’s on, you can check your sugar levels anytime using an app on your smartphone. Not everyone’s insurance will cover a continuous glucose monitor, but if you’re really averse to needles, it might be worth looking into.

While pricking your finger is probably always going to hurt a bit, you can definitely make it a little more tolerable with these tricks.