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Exploring Mi'kmaq Women's Experiences with Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Open Access


Other title
gestational diabetes
Mi'kmaq women
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Whitty-Rogers, Joanne P
Supervisor and department
Caine, Vera (Faculty of Nursing)
Cameron, Brenda (Faculty of Nursing)
Examining committee member and department
Fletcher, Fay (Faculty of Extension)
Richter, Solina (Faculty of Nursing)
Jensen, Louise (Faculty of Nursing)
Warry, Wayne (Laurentian University)
Faculty of Nursing

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is characterized by a carbohydrate intolerance that is diagnosed in pregnancy. In recent years, the incidence of diabetes has increased with one in eight First Nations women reporting the development of this condition. Diabetes is three to five times more common among First Nations People than the general population. Women diagnosed with GDM have an increased risk of developing glucose intolerance later in life , with approximately 50% developing Type II diabetes within 15 years. Hypertensive disorders, higher caesarean section rates, higher rates of spontaneous preterm delivery, pre-eclampsia, and hypoglycemia are some complications associated with this condition. In addition to physiological complications, there are a number of social and political contexts which affect Aboriginal women and their families during pregnancy. Since there is a paucity of research exploring First Nations women’s experiences with GDM, a participatory study was conducted for the purpose of providing new knowledge about First Nations women’s experiences with GDM. Participatory and Indigenous principles informed and guided this study. Conversational interviews with nine Mi’kmaq women who experienced GDM in addition to talking circles with the participants and other community members were conducted. A hermeneutic phenomenological approach was used to search for essential and peripheral themes and the women’s life experiences were interpreted in terms of life existentials of lived space, lived body, lived time, and lived relation as a framework to present the findings. Four themes emerged which included a) Uncovering the Experiences of GDM, b) Barriers Limiting Access to Health Care c) Social Support During Pregnancy, and d) Feeling Compelled To Take Action. Based on these findings using the social determinants of health (SDOH) as a framework, the women’s stories inform health care providers about the complexities of Mi’kmaq women’s lives. Implications for policy changes, education, clinical practice, and research are addressed.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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