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Hypoglycemia in Pregnancy: Low Blood Sugar

Hypoglycemia in Pregnancy

Hypoglycemia in pregnancy requires immediate treatment, if it is left untreated it can lead to fetal growth retardation or preterm births. Hypoglycemia is more common in pregnant women with diabetes as compared to non-diabetic pregnant women.

Glucose, often known as blood sugar, is transported from the blood into the body’s cells by the hormone insulin, where it is either stored or used as fuel.

Your body makes more insulin during pregnancy to support your baby’s growth. However, becoming pregnant might also increase your insulin resistance. This is the reason why a lot of pregnant women get diabetes (gestational diabetes).

Although hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, is more frequent in pregnancy, the changes to your body and how you respond to insulin can also cause your blood sugar to dip dangerously low.

Hypoglycemia is a condition brought on by that. Hypoglycemia is blood sugar levels below 60 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) [ref].

Women with diabetes experience hypoglycemia in pregnancy more frequently than other women. Moreover, insulin resistance increases during the second and early third trimesters of pregnancy, increasing the risk of hyperglycemia in diabetic women [ref].

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Causes of Hypoglycemia in Pregnancy

Rarely do pregnant women without diabetes experience persistent hypoglycemia. When any of the following occurs during pregnancy, sugar levels may drop too low:

  • You don’t consume the correct foods or frequently enough to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Your baby will continue stealing glucose from your body no matter how often or how much you consume. Your body usually does a decent job of making up for this.
  • You work out a lot and deplete your glucose. You could develop hypoglycemia if your body doesn’t have enough glucose or if you don’t refill it with some carbohydrates.
  • Your diabetic medication dosages need to be changed since they are too effective at decreasing blood sugar. The most frequent cause of hypoglycemia during pregnancy is this.
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Diabetes and Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia can occur in pregnant women who do not have diabetes, but it is far more common in women who use insulin. Each of the following diabetes types increases your risk of hypoglycemia episodes:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes


In most cases, pregnant women and non-pregnant persons experience the same hypoglycemia symptoms. They consist of:

  • Dizziness or vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Palpitations and shaking
  • Sweaty tingling in the mouth, nervousness, and pale skin

When blood sugar levels are increased, these symptoms go away.


Pregnancy-related hypoglycemia is pretty typical. Hypoglycemia is substantially more common in diabetic women than in non-diabetic women.

According to one study, 23 percent [ref] of type 1 diabetic women experienced a severe hypoglycemia incident at least once while pregnant, and many experienced many attacks.

When blood sugar levels go dangerously low and you risk losing consciousness, you are experiencing a severe hypoglycemia attack.

In an earlier study, hypoglycemia affected anywhere between 19 and 44 percent of pregnant women with diabetes of any kind.

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Risk factors that increase the risk of hypoglycemia

Throughout your pregnancy, hypoglycemia is a possibility. However, several factors will raise the danger. These comprise:

  • Being diabetic:

Your insulin levels can change if you have diabetes and are pregnant. You will need to be closely watched and maybe have your diabetic meds modified to prevent having either too much or too little sugar.

  • Being early in your pregnancy:

During the first trimester, when many mothers may experience nausea and vomiting, hypoglycemia tends to happen more frequently.

According to one study [ref], type 1 diabetic women who were pregnant had severe hypoglycemia three times more often in the first trimester than they had before becoming pregnant.

Between 8 and 16 weeks of pregnancy is when a severe hypoglycemia crisis is most likely to occur. The second trimester is the least likely period.

  • Having had hypoglycemic episodes before pregnancy:

If you had hypoglycemia before you were pregnant, you are likely to have these episodes more often. This is because the fetus is highly dependent on your blood sugars.

  • Being ill:

Many illnesses cause a loss of appetite, and if you do not eat enough or regularly, you may experience hypoglycemic episodes.

  • Being undernourished:

It is critical to consume enough calories while pregnant. Your diet should also be nutritious.

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Diagnosis of hypoglycemia during pregnancy:

Based on your symptoms and your blood glucose levels, your doctor will determine whether you have hypoglycemia.

You could be required to record several readings each day. A blood sugar monitoring kit can be obtained either by prescription from your doctor or over the counter from a pharmacy.

You don’t necessarily have persistent hypoglycemia based on a single low blood sugar result.

Prevention and treatment of hypoglycemia during pregnancy:

If you begin to experience any hypoglycemic symptoms:

  • Search for a secure location to sit or lie. Please stop if you are driving.
  • Consume or ingest roughly 15 grams of carbs [ref]. The sugar content of simple carbohydrates is typically high. As examples, consider 4 ounces of fruit juice (without added sugar or in a reduced amount), a half-can of ordinary soda, 4 glucose tablets, and a spoonful of sugar or honey. Such supplies should always be carried.
  • Any hypoglycemia episodes you experience should be reported to your physician.

Your doctor will need to change your medication dosage if you have diabetes to balance your blood sugar levels.

Rarely, a prescription for a glucagon kit may be issued to you. This kit will include a sterile syringe and a synthetic version of the hormone glucagon.

The glucagon stimulates the liver to release glucose reserves when it is administered. Consequently, blood sugar levels increase. In cases of extreme hypoglycemia, it serves as a rescue medication.

However, lowering your risk of developing hypoglycemia in the first place is crucial.

  • Eat little, often, balanced meals to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
  • Since you fast while you sleep, put a snack next to your bed so you may eat if you awaken at odd hours or in the morning.
  • Exercise, unless your doctor has advised against it; nonetheless, keep your activity level within normal limits. An excessive activity might have a 24-hour impact on your blood sugar levels [ref].
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Complications of Hypoglycemia during pregnancy:

It’s unlikely that having an occasional hypoglycemia episode while pregnant will harm you or the unborn child.

There can be issues if it happens frequently. To receive and interpret signals from the body, the brain requires glucose.

Hypoglycemia in diabetic women who experience it severely might result in convulsions, coma, and even death. If your baby is born with hypoglycemia or develops it shortly after birth, it might go through the same difficulties.

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What do you think?

Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

I love my family, my profession, my blog, nature, hiking, and simple life. Read more about me, my family, and my qualifications

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