WHAT is one of the biggest health mistakes you've made, that you'd warn other women about? We're warned early about the importance of a rounded diet and exercise, taking care of our bodies, our teeth — general care that will ensure that when old age hits, we're not bound down with bills and regrets. It's a question we asked some older women, and they encourage younger women to heed these warnings.
Not taking care of my teeth, even while I had out my lot. Truly, no one told me about the link between dental health and pregnancy until later in my life — I was in my 40s and was done having kids when I read an article on it. By that time I'd lost many of my teeth, and was wearing implants. It has been a very expensive and painful process, because dental care wasn't priority. I'd say to young women of childbearing age, visit your dentist regularly, especially when you start having children. Do those X-rays and spend the money if you want to keep your teeth.
I cannot overemphasise the importance of doing your Pap smears — that's what saved my younger sister. She was always against modern doctors and things like that, but I encouraged her to get the test done when we had a mobile unit in the community. The results came back that there were abnormal cells, and we had a scare with cancer. Luckily we caught it, but I just imagine what could have happened if she had not taken my advice.
Encourage your husbands to get their prostate checks, even if you have to take them to the doctor yourself. I lost my husband to prostate cancer because he was stubborn, and by the time he wanted to get checked and get treatment, it was too late. I watched him die an agonising death, and all of it could have been prevented.
Eat right and exercise. It might sound cliché, but once you hit your 30s, the weight will be much harder to get off. So while you're young, form good habits, because bad habits are hard to break when you're older, and I can tell you that. Cut out the rice and eat fruits and vegetables when you're young so that when you're my age, you would have been used to eating them.
I found out I had diabetes in my late 20s. It could have been avoided if I took care of myself better. I had to change my entire lifestyle. Ladies, watch what you eat and treat your body right from your youth.
Don't get a C-section if you don't need to, because you will be dealing with the effects years after. If there are no complications preventing you from having your children naturally, do it. Don't allow aesthetics to make you choose a C-section. I'm still dealing with numbness, a god-awful scar, itching and a 'fupa' years after my C-section, and exercise doesn't help; I'd have to do surgery to fix it. So ladies, don't let vanity force you to get that cut.