According to the International Diabetes Federation, there are currently over 199 million women living with diabetes. This total is projected to increase to 313 million by 2040. IDF estimates that 1 in 7 births is affected by gestational diabetes and that that 20.9 million or 16.2% of live births to women in 2015 had some form of hyperglycaemia in pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is due to insulin blocking hormones produced during pregnancy. This type of diabetes only occurs during pregnancy.
These were just but statistics to me until when I found myself having the worst case of fluid retention, swelling and feeling lethargic at approximately 32 weeks of pregnancy. I decided to go in a week early for my routine check-up. This is when things went downhill for me. For starters, the doctor found protein traces in my urine and explained to me that there might be a possibility that I have pre-eclampsia, even though my blood pressure didn’t seem to support that theory much. It is then that they decided to check for my blood sugar and the results were shocking. My blood sugar was as high. I was sent for testing the next day and it is then when I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes Mellitus. I was going through all the stages of grief simultaneously but it didn’t last past a few days when the unpredictable happened.
Two days after my sudden diagnosis, my baby arrived prematurely at 33 weeks. While everything ended up being fine with the delivery, the news from my doctor about developing type 2 diabetes bit.ly/2Aw5QAB lingered with me after my discharge According to the IDF, approximately half of women with a history of GDM go on to develop type 2 diabetes within five to ten years after delivery.
I was not surprised as my paternal grandparents both lived with diabetes but here I was at 29 years old and being told I have a high chance of developing the condition later in life. Having worked with Diabetes patients earlier in my career as an intern at a Med-Surg unit in small town Virginia,USA. I had seen the restricted lifestyle my patients had to deal with, frequently coming in and out of the hospital and some even losing their limbs.
With that bad news came some relief of some sort. Information from several clinical trials strongly supports the idea that type 2 diabete is preventable. While Diabetes type 1 is usually from childhood, type 2 also called adult onset diabetes can be delayed and avoided through lifestyle changes. Data from the Nurses’ Health Study suggest that 90 percent of type 2 diabetes in women can be attributed to five such factors: excess weight, lack of exercise, a less-than-healthy diet, smoking, and abstaining from alcohol.
I decided to embark on a healthy lifestyle and here are the three things I did once my baby turned a year:
- I signed up for a gym membership and paid for six months straight. While I had signed up for the gym many a times before and with fail, this time I was motivated by fear of a disease so I did stick to my schedule of three times a week. Great thing was my gym had group classes from aerobics, Zumba, cardio and weight lifting. Not only did the group dynamics keep me motivated, the complements that followed a few months later about shedding the baby weight and the confident boost made me stick to this sure routine. Due to my busy schedule, I now exercise twice a week at the convenience of my house. Thanks to YouTube, there are many workout routines for every shape, form and mood. Besides, running after my now two-year-old girl keeps me on my toes.
- Healthy eating bit.ly/2yr34LM became a reality. I would usually eat out at least three times a week and daily for lunch before and during my pregnancy. Not only was my wallet taking a punch, my health too was going down the drain due to my very unhealthy eating habits. I am talking milkshakes, burgers, pizza, fries, fizzy drinks and the whole shebang! Once I got the diagnosis and the baby shortly after, I had to do a quick flip on my eating script and this involved giving up on my fatty comfort foods. I started with the green leafy veggies, whole grains, protein and good fats ala avocados in my diet. I rediscovered my love for the culinary arts and how good of a cook I had always been. Besides, who doesn’t love a tasty home-made meal? It was an instant switch but I believe the baby kept me on my diet strictly and by the time I was weaning her, I was also weaned off alcohol completely and kept it to the occasional takeout and a little glass of wine or two here and there! They did day a little drink never hurt nobody
- As soon as I start hitting the gym and eating healthy, my body felt better and I started getting some good rest and enough sleep at night. I also maintain routine check-ups at least every couple months. I also invested in a glucometer machine that I barely use but if need be it is tucked in my first aid box if need be. Taking control did give me a piece of mind about my health and my focus shifted from trying to prevent diabetes but more of living a healthy life overall.
I do hope that keeping up with my new healthy regimen, I will totally avoid the disease and live a long healthy diabetes free life.
Here are more stats on women and diabetes from the International Diabetes Federation:
- Remember that Up to 70% of cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented through the adoption of a healthy lifestyle.
- 70% of premature deaths among adults are largely due to behavior initiated during adolescence.
- Women, as mothers, have a huge influence over the long-term health status of their children.
- Research has shown that when mothers are granted greater control over resources, they allocate more to food, children’s health and nutrition, and education.
- Women are the gatekeepers of household nutrition and lifestyle habits and therefore have the potential to drive prevention from the household and beyond.
Check out Kenya Diabetes Management and Information Centre for people with diabetes, their caregivers, healthcare providers, the general public and other stakeholders involved in diabetes.