If you have diabetes, you're no stranger to having to administer insulin. While insulin shots are a fine method, insulin pumps are superior in most cases. They're convenient and involve fewer needles for people who have a needle phobia. However, there can be a learning curve involved in understanding your new IV pump. Here are four tips that can help you figure out how to use it:

1. Place the cannula.

When your insulin pump delivers medicine into your system, it needs a route to get there. This route is through a cannula, or a hollow plastic tube, that goes through your skin. You'll need to place it yourself by piercing your skin with a needle, but once it's in place, you won't need to change it for two days. The most common place to put a cannula for an insulin pump is on your abdomen. You can either do it yourself or ask a friend or family member to help you.

2. Program the insulin pump.

One of the advantages of an insulin pump is its ability to administer medicine constantly throughout the day. This can help you keep your blood sugar steady, since you won't be getting your insulin in only two to four shots per day. Your doctor can help you figure out the ideal amount of insulin for your body and condition. Your insulin pump can also be programmed to deliver additional insulin after meals as needed.

3. Attach the insulin pump.

The insulin pump will attach to your cannula via a thin plastic tube. this tube is unobtrusive and shouldn't interfere with your daily life. According to My Life Diabetes Care, you can even do most sports and exercise while wearing your insulin pump. Your insulin pump is small enough to be clipped to your belt, pants, or bra; you can even purchase a special sport arm band to hold it during activities. The only time you may have to remove your pump is for swimming or bathing.

4. Check your blood sugar.

While you don't have to give yourself regular insulin injections while wearing an insulin pump, you do still have to test your blood sugar. Take your blood sugar reading every four hours to ensure that you're within a safe range. This will allow you to adjust your insulin pump's dosage as necessary. You should also take your blood sugar after eating meals that are rich in carbohydrates or sugar.