Halal Consumer - Issue 28 - page 15

on her height and weight and what her daily routine is to
schedule proper meal timings. As for exercise, I may suggest
walking after meals but it depends on the patient’s preg-
nancy health and what her doctor prefers.”
The principles of the diabetic diet are good for everyone in
general to follow. It is an opportunity to create healthier
eating habits for oneself and one’s entire family. El-Amin
highly emphasizes the importance of pregnancy nutrition
right from the start. “It is so often overlooked until there is a
problem,” she says.
So what about those women who are already diabetic
before pregnancy? According to the American College of
Obstetricians and Gynecologists, in the past, women with
diabetes were advised not to become pregnant. The health
risks to both mother and baby were too high. Today, there
is a better understanding of diabetes and improved prenatal
care making it easier for women with diabetes to have suc-
cessful pregnancies and healthy babies.
Dr. Saadia Mian, an endocrinologist from Saline, Michigan,
shares that many of her patients suffer from diabetes. “For
women with diabetes who want to get pregnant, first and
foremost, they need to have their diabetes under proper
control,” says Dr. Mian. “Pregnancy can wreak havoc on
blood sugars, and poor control of diabetes may be harm-
ful to the baby and the mother.” Dr. Mian notes that those
women who develop Type 2 diabetes along with a history
of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) find it difficult to
get pregnant and to maintain pregnancy. “PCOS Interferes
with the growth and release of eggs from the ovaries when
a woman’s body overproduces hormones called androgens
causing anovulatory cycles, which leads to difficulty in
conceiving,” she says. “Even after conception, the risk of
miscarriage is high.”
Once her patients do happen to conceive, Dr. Mian refers
them to an obstetrician/gynecologist who specializes in
high-risk pregnancies to follow them through to delivery.
Sakina Syeda of Chicago, Illinois, was monitored very
closely by both an endocrinologist and an obstetrician dur-
ing her pregnancy. She was diagnosed with PCOS at the
age of 17. In March of 2011, she was told she also has Type
2 diabetes. “I was taking medicine and insulin injections
to regulate my sugars during pregnancy,” shares Syeda, a
teacher for the Zainab Center. “I was on a very restricted
diet and checking my glucose levels up to 6 times a day. My
fingers developed little, tiny black scabs from being pricked
so much,” she recalls.
Despite the many prenatal appointments and ultrasounds,
and even some emergency hospital runs, Syeda says it was all
worth it in the end when she held her healthy baby Safiyyah
Kotelensky in her arms. “I was given ample care and support
throughout my pregnancy, and by the will of God, was blessed
with a healthy, beautiful baby,” gushes the first-time mom. “It
was not an easy journey, but your baby is a great motivator to
take your health seriously. I did not want anything happening
to my baby so I was extra careful and learned so much along
the way about eating better and healthier.”
Syeda states that a baby is a trust from God and so are
our bodies, so our health cannot be taken lightly. Having
diabetes should not hinder anyone from trying to reach
motherhood. It is doable with sincere commitment and dili-
gence and faith. She has continued many of the lifestyle
changes she made during her pregnancy into her postna-
tal care as well. “Diabetes has helped me portion my food
intake. I plan out my meals weekly and have reduced my
intake quite a bit,” she says. “Even now I will eat smaller
meals throughout the day and carry a water bottle and
healthy snacks wherever I go. I also want to set a proper
example for my daughter and have reduced refined sugars
from my diet drastically.”
Nobody imagines being put on a diet during pregnancy. It is
definitely not something I preferred doing. However, gesta-
tional diabetes has been a blessing in disguise. I am eating
lighter and healthier, have learned how to increase my qual-
ity of life, and am no longer giving into my cravings. I plan
on sustaining these healthy habits post delivery as well.
I want to minimize my risk of developing diabetes in the
future to the best of my ability. Chances reduce dramatically
by keeping one’s weight down, making healthy food choices,
controlling portions, and exercising regularly. All of this can
help ward off the disease.
Tayyaba Syed
has written for numerous publications and been
featured on NPR and Radio Islam. She teaches and volunteers with
the youth in various communities. Tayyaba lives in Illinois with her
husband and two kids.
Spring 2014
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