Getting Ready for a PCOS Pregnancy

Pregnant Caucasian woman timing contractions in hospital
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Getting ready for any pregnancy, especially your first, can seem daunting. You want to make sure that your finances, marriage, living situation and especially your health are in a place where you are ready to bring a child into your life. While a pregnancy can, of course, happen spontaneously, most experts agree that taking some time to get your health in order is a must. While you don’t need to make a complete overhaul of your diet and/or lifestyle (in most cases), making a few simple changes in the months before you actually try to conceive can make a huge difference if you have PCOS.

1. Stop Smoking And Illegal Drug Use

Smoking and drug use has been linked to premature delivery, pregnancy loss and certain birth defects. Give yourself the time you need to effectively quit smoking or using. Speak with your doctor or find a local support group if you need assistance.

2. Cut Back On Caffeine And Alcohol

You’ll need to cut back on caffeine and avoid alcohol anyway once you get pregnant, so finding alternatives for your morning java or nightly glass of wine now can make that transition a little easier later on.

3. Lose Or Maintain Weight

Being significantly overweight or underweight can put you at risk for developing complications, including preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, preterm labor and even infertility. All of these can put both you and your unborn baby’s life at risk. This is particularly important for women with PCOS, simply because they are at an already higher risk for being overweight.

4. Get Your Blood Sugar Under Control

As you know, women with PCOS are more likely to have insulin resistance or diabetes. If you know that you have diabetes or that your blood sugar isn’t well-controlled, see your doctor and make a plan to get it under control. This may mean making dietary changes or increasing your activity level. These may be difficult changes to make but can make a world of difference to your health and the health of your pregnancy.

5. Check In With Your Doctor

Most doctors now recommend a pre-conception counseling appointment with your obstetrician. The goal of this visit is to discuss your health and how to prepare for a pregnancy. You can also update basic screening tests to make sure that there aren’t any infections or serious medical issues that need to be addressed before becoming pregnant. You can also discuss topics like smoking cessation, weight management, or the basics of conception, if necessary.

6. Watch Your Cycle

Many women with PCOS have irregular menstrual cycles, which means that they may not be ovulating regularly or reliably. This can severely hamper your attempts to get pregnant. If you find yourself in this situation, you may want to see your doctor or even a reproductive endocrinologist (a specialist in infertility) for help early on. There are certain medications that you can take to induce ovulation and help you get pregnant quicker and more easily.

7. Stop Taking the Birth Control Pill

It seems obvious, but it can take up to a few months for you to regain normal ovulatory cycles. This is less important if you know that you don’t ovulate regularly, but you should still try to take at least a month or two off birth control pills before starting to try for pregnancy.

8. Take A Prenatal Vitamin

A prenatal has higher amounts of certain vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, choline, folate, and DHA which are essential for a healthy pregnancy. 

9. Your Man Isn’t Off The Hook Either

Sperm can last in the testes for up to three months, so his health before pregnancy is very relevant to the baby-making process. He should focus on eating healthy foods, reducing intake of alcohol and caffeine, and avoiding illegal drugs, as they can all have an effect on sperm production.

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