I remember so vividly the overwhelming feeling of joy and sigh of relief when I saw “pregnant” written across the screen of the Clearblue pregnancy test.
After trying to get pregnant with PCOS for a while, the lifestyle changes, diet changes and full commitment to improving my health had finally paid off. However, I was not prepared for the journey ahead. am so grateful for the miracle that God had given to us. Being pregnant with PCOS had its challenges so you can prepare for the journey ahead.
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I hope to help you along your journey by sharing with you some things I wish I knew and how I would prepare if I were to do it again
Basics of PCOS
Before we jump right in, here are some basics about PCOS. polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, is a hormonal disorder that affects one in every 10 women. It’s incredibly common, but there are still many unknowns about it; because of its relatively new name (it wasn’t officially recognized until 1935), many doctors aren’t well versed in it—and often misdiagnose. It causes an imbalance of reproductive hormones that can lead to infertility, irregular menstrual cycles, facial hair growth, weight gain (especially around your midsection), and insulin resistance. If left untreated for long periods of time, PCOS can increase your risk for serious health issues like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and unexplained infertility.
If it’s your first time having a baby, you are probably pretty nervous. You might have friends or family members who have gone through a pregnancy before, but chances are there are things that only those who have PCOS understand. Here are 3 tips for getting through pregnancy with PCOS
PCOS puts you at higher risk of Gestational Diabetes
Women with PCOS have a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy. This occurs when your body is unable to produce enough insulin for your growing baby. If left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health complications for both mother and child, including birth defects and miscarriage. Doctors typically test pregnant women for gestational diabetes between weeks 24 and 28 of gestation (but it’s not uncommon to develop gestational diabetes later in pregnancy). If a woman tests positive, she’ll likely be asked to monitor her blood sugar levels regularly until delivery. Ask your doctor about whether or not you should be tested.
I failed my first glucose test and I was so scared and needed to dig into my faith in God that things would work out. Your first Glucose test will likely be a 1-hour test. Although the normal practice is to do this test between 24-28 weeks, mine was done much sooner, around 16 weeks.
Doing it sooner allowed my midwife and me, to be prepared for the journey to come. Because she was keenly aware of my medical history she suggested that we tested early and often if needed. All in all, I took 3 glucose tests in total. I passed the last two which were 3-hour glucose tests.
You should consider getting tested much sooner if you have PCOS. Also, modify your diet as much as you can. Although I had my cravings, my health and that of my baby superseded my want for sugar. Pregnancy with PCOS means that you have to have a higher level of self-control than you may have anticipated.
Even when I would eat an apple, I would pair it with some protein like peanut butter. This allowed me to control sugar spikes. I would also go on walks with my husband to stay active and allow for proper control of my blood sugar
Other Tips to reduce risk of gestational diabetes
1) Eat regularly. If possible, eat small meals every two to three hours to maintain normal blood sugar levels.
2) Exercise regularly. The American Diabetes Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week.
3) Consult your doctor about medications and supplements.
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PCOS puts you at a higher risk of hypertension and preeclampsia
If a woman has PCOS, they are at a higher risk for developing preeclampsia and hypertension during pregnancy. These conditions can be life-threatening for both mother and baby, so doctors must monitor these conditions closely during pregnancy.
You must work with your medical provider to factor in your PCOS symptoms as your move through your pregnancy. Women with PCOS are also more likely to give birth prematurely than women without any pre-existing medical condition.
Black women are at higher risk for preeclampsia, it is 60% more prevalent in black women and also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease according to Newsroom.
These statistics were completely startling to me and coupled with PCOS, I needed to be frequently checked during my visits. Preeclampsia can negatively affect the placenta and baby’s ability to grow and thrive. It’s important to continue to reduce stress through light exercise, reduce salt intake and check your blood pressure at home.
Checking your blood pressure with a blood pressure monitor at home will give you a picture of your overall risk for preeclampsia and you should share those numbers with your healthcare provider.
Higher Risk for miscarriage or an early loss of pregnancy
PCOS is associated with higher risks for miscarriage, early loss of pregnancy, stillbirths, and polycystic ovaries after pregnancy. Women with PCOS are more likely to have problems getting pregnant in general. Even when conception occurs, there’s a heightened risk of gestational diabetes (diabetes that occurs during pregnancy) as well as high blood pressure during pregnancy.
When you first find out you are pregnant and you go in for the pregnancy test at the clinic, you are mainly tested for the presence of the pregnancy hormone hCG ( Human Chorionic Gonadotropin.
Ask your healthcare provider to take it a step further and get your Progesterone levels checked.
PCOS causes low levels of progesterone. Low levels of progesterone during early pregnancy can lead to miscarriage. My naturopathic doctor suggested that I get tested the same day I confirm my pregnancy and low and behold, the levels were low, she recommended that I try topical progesterone cream. I would rub it on my thigh or my arm. I am so grateful to my doctor.
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PCOS can affect your milk supply
Breastfeeding is an emotional experience for a lot of women who choose to do it. If you are looking forward to it and then realize that you are unable to provide enough to feed your child, that can be disappointing. Women who suffer from PCOS often have low progesterone levels and high levels of androgen hormones can interfere with the prolactin hormone which is responsible for lactation.
I was frustrated, however, I didn’t seat in that frustration. Remember that you have options.
You can breastfeed and supplement with Formula while you work on increasing your supply. This is the approach that I took. I didn’t want to stress my body out even more but instead focus on increasing my milk supply.
I started to eat food that would help me get my milk supply up. I share about 17 products that can increase milk supply that you can consider, however, I found success with Mother’s milk, Munchkin Milkmakers Lactation Cookie, and my absolute favorite Boobie Superfoods and Favorite cereal which was jampacked with Pumpkin seeds, Organic Oats, Coconut oil, Almonds, and other galactagogues
Learn more about why I love Boobie Superfoods products here and get $10 off your order.
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Conclusion about PCOS and Pregnancy
When it comes to PCOS, you have to be an active participant in the healing journey. Getting pregnant is just the beginning. You should continue to monitor what you are experiencing, trust your gut if something feels wrong, and communicate with your doctor.
I hope that you find these tips to be useful. The more we all share our experiences the more we can heal together. If you got pregnant with PCOS, kindly share your experience below.