PCOS is a condition that affects eight to ten percent of women who are of childbearing age. Women with this condition will have a harder time conceiving and can experience certain complications when pregnant. PCOS and pregnancy complications include gestational diabetes, miscarriage, preeclampsia, high blood pressure and premature labor. Additionally, infants born to mothers with this condition are at a significantly higher risk of dying before, during or after birth and many will spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit as a precaution.
Information on PCOS and Pregnancy Complications
Women with PCOS will be more than three times likely to experience a miscarriage during the first trimester. Research has shown that the drug metformin, which is an oral medication commonly prescribed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, can help to reduce the risk of miscarriage in women diagnosed with PCOS. However, other studies have not been able to confirm that this medication can reduce the risk for miscarriage, so more research is needed.
Gestational diabetes is another PCOS and pregnancy complication. This type of diabetes will only affect a woman while she is pregnant, however, women with a medical history of gestational diabetes are twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes sometime in their life, when compared to women who did not have this condition while pregnant. Individuals born to mothers with gestational diabetes will also be more likely to develop type 2 diabetes during their late forties or early fifties.
Gestational diabetes can be well managed during pregnancy and does not cause any further complications for the mother or the infant. Commonly, women with gestational diabetes will deliver their infants via C-section. They will also have difficulty breathing easily during pregnancy and will have very low blood sugar.
Preeclampsia is a dangerous condition that involves an increase in the mother’s blood pressure during the second trimester. This can affect the mother’s kidney, brain and liver functions. If this condition is left untreated it can evolve into eclampsia, which can cause severe damage to the mother’s organs, frequent seizures and possibly death. The only treatment for preeclampsia is delivery of the infant, even if the infant is preterm. Usually, women with preeclampsia will need to deliver their infant by C-section, in order to safely control the mother’s blood pressure and deliver the infant, while preventing further complications.
Pregnancy induced High blood pressure can occur during the end of the second trimester or the beginning of the third trimester. If this type of hypertension is left untreated it can lead to preeclampsia. Unmanaged hypertension can also affect the health of the unborn child.
Preterm labor is also another complication. An infant is considered born premature if they are delivered before thirty-seven weeks. A preterm infant will have a higher risk of developing a number of medical conditions, some of which can be life threatening.
C-Section Delivery for Women with PCOS
The most common PCOS and pregnancy complication is the delivery of the infant via C-section. Women with PCOS are more likely to deliver this way, because of such complications as pregnancy induced hypertension. A C-section is a surgical procedure and because of this, recovery time after delivery will take much longer, when compared to a vaginal birth. This type of delivery can also pose additional health risks to the infant.
Infertility Issues for Women with PCOS
Women with PCOS will have a harder time conceiving. This is because so many women with this condition do not ovulate regularly or at all. Menstruation is also often irregular. These issues will make it harder for a couple to plan intercourse during a woman’s most fertile time of the month, because this time is so unpredictable. Because of these complications, many couples will seek the help of a fertility specialist. Individuals diagnosed with PCOS are usually aware of the complications they are at risk of during pregnancy. While these complications are not very common, a woman should still meet with her OB/GYN on a regular basis and follow their physician’s recommendations for tests prior to conception and early on in pregnancy.
How to Prevent Complications of PCOS During Pregnancy
Some of these complications can sound very daunting, especially for first time mothers. However, there are many things that a mommy-to-be can do that can help to prevent them. First off, getting early and regular prenatal care is very important. If you’re planning on conceiving, it’s an even better idea to meet with your doctor before you begin trying to get pregnant. You and your doctor will discuss certain steps that you can take in order to lower your risks of PCOS and pregnancy complications.
Next, make some important lifestyle changes. Certain changes can be hard to implement, but keep in mind that you’re doing it for the health of your baby. If you regularly drink alcohol, stop now. If you smoke, it’s also best if you stop while trying to conceive.
Changing your dietary habits can also have a positive effect of your health during pregnancy. Stay away from caffeine and processed foods and instead focus on eating whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies and lean proteins.
Remaining active can make all the difference in your mobility and health during pregnancy. Speak with your doctor regarding a safe workout routine that you can follow while pregnant. This can include low impact cardio, pregnancy yoga or even a short twenty minute walk once a day.