Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) during her first pregnancy came as a huge shock to mum-of-two Michelle Murphy.
Having worked in the healthcare industry for the past 15 years
as a physiotherapist, Michelle – who considers herself fit and healthy – was well aware of the health implications of diabetes.
“I was really, genuinely shocked and devastated,” she recalls. “I held a lot of pride in my identity as someone who was fit and healthy and this diagnosis did not align with my sense of identity.” Needless to say, Michelle didn’t take the diagnosis lightly.
After receiving information from a diabetes educator, she began to do her own research on how to best manage the condition during her pregnancy.
“I was very strict with my diet and with my glucometry monitoring so I quickly learned which foods caused my blood glucose to spike to unsafe levels and which foods were ‘safe’ for me to eat,” she explains. “I was able to manage my GDM via dietary control and the condition had no adverse impact on my pregnancy or son.”
After her son was born in 2015, Michelle was shocked to discover that, 18 weeks post-partum, her blood glucose levels placed her in the category for pre-diabetes.
Research has also shown that women who have had gestational diabetes, and their children, are at higher risk of developing type 2, which was alarming news for Michelle.
“I was prescribed Metformin and advised that it was very likely I would progress on to type 2 diabetes,” she says. “After another period of shock and denial – I asked for a test repeat – I moved on to acceptance and committed to optimising my lifestyle for overall health.”
After a period of trial-and-error, Michelle completely overhauled her diet, which she has managed to sustain for the past three-and-a-half years.
Then in 2018, Michelle was pregnant with her second child and, despite being at risk of GDM again, she was given the all clear.
“My OB suggested it was very likely I would have it again so I was ready for it,” she says.
“However, the results for fasting one and two hours were all normal.”
Michelle wanted to share her story with others, and now features in video testimonial for the Baby Steps post-gestational diabetes program, which is currently in pilot phase and is being adapted for Australian users by Diabetes WA.
“The Baby Steps tool is a fantastic way for mothers to find valuable resources and information to support them in their health and wellness journey,” Michelle says. “It’s important to know you are not alone and that you can make positive changes in your health and life.”
She hopes her journey will give hope to other women who have had or are going through a similar experience.
“If my story can inspire, support or empower others on their journey with GDM or pre-diabetes, that’s the ultimate privilege,” she says.