When you google PCOS pregnancy, a few red flags will come up.
One, you'll have a hard time getting pregnant. Check that off our list! Phew.
Two, you are at a higher risk for miscarriage - worrisome
Three, you are at a higher risk for gestational diabetes - worrisome
Four, you are at a higher risk for preterm labor - worrisome
Five, you are at a higher risk for pregnancy induced hypertension - worrisome
So! Even though we tackled that first hurdle of getting pregnant, I was now pretty worried about all the things that could potentially go wrong during this pregnancy.
We had just relocated to the Bay Area, so I did some research and chose a very experienced OBGYN whose office was just one mile down the street from where we live. At the first appointment, I told her I have PCOS, and asked if there is anything special I need to do or look out for to avoid complications. She said no. I then showed her the Ovasitol I had been taking to help manage my PCOS symptoms in trying to get pregnant, and asked if I should continue taking it. She said she had never seen it, and just shrugged her shoulders, not saying yes or no. I asked if I should continue my high protein diet, and she had a similar reaction, and just told me to avoid eating too much fruit so I don't have to push out a nine pound baby. I left feeling a little confused as to whether or not I should keep up with my strict pre-pregnancy diet, and if I should continue taking the Ovasitol or not.
My advice for other PCOS pregnant women:
Looking back, I am disappointed with my original OBGYN. It was my first pregnancy, so I didn't really know any better. But I realize now, after dealing with a handful of other OBGYNs, that she was not the best. I do not think that me developing preeclampsia/HELLP was her fault, and I also don't think it was even related to having PCOS. The research goes back and forth - some say there is a correlation between PCOS and preeclampsia, and some say it is unrelated. I will say though, for any other women with PCOS who are now pregnant, that my new OBGYN who is the top rated 'high risk' OBGYN in the area, does take extra precautions with pregnant PCOS women. These precautions include - an early glucose test and repeat glucose tests because women with pcos are at a higher risk for developing gestational diabetes - all related to the pcos root cause of not being able to process sugars in the bloodstream, similar to a diabetic person. My second tip is to talk to your obgyn or a dietician who specializes in women's hormones and pregnancy, about what type of diet you should be following during pregnancy. I also want to point out that PCOS does not discriminate when it comes to weight and body types. You may be hearing 'diabetes' and think you are exempt because you are thin/healthy. But plenty of women with pcos, including myself, are not overweight, and simply 'losing weight' is not always the cure.
So, back to my story - After the wishy-washy response from my OBGYN about how to handle my pcos while pregnant, I reached out to my dietician, and she didn't give me a clear answer either. I asked if she could recommend a new dietician who specializes in PCOS pregnancy, and I never heard back from her. I was very torn. But I decided to stop the Ovasitol, and stop the strict diet. I thought maybe my body was sort of temporarily fixed from PCOS since I was now pregnant and my hormones were doing all sorts of shifts. Looking back, I wish that I kept up the strict diet.
In general, I wasn't really a fan of being pregnant. I felt pretty crappy and nauseous a lot of the time. About one month in, I got really sick with some sort of flu and was throwing up with a fever. Other than that, at every appointment and ultrasound, everything looked healthy and normal. I was working through the entire pregnancy, and flew down to Orange County a few times for work. I would say I was pretty stressed, looking back. I had some teachers that were really stressing me out, I was teaching classes myself up in the Bay Area, and I was planning a recital for the studio in Orange County as well.
Around 25 weeks pregnant, we flew down to OC for my baby shower thrown by his family, and for my recital. Then at about 26 weeks pregnant, Adam and I flew to Las Vegas for a fun weekend away. We had a SUPER exciting babymoon booked to stay at the Bacara in Santa Barbara for a few weeks later, but we ended up having to cancel that trip because Bella arrived before we were supposed to go. During our trip to Vegas, I started noticing my feet were getting *really* swollen. My sister in law was on the trip with us, who has two kids of her own, and thought it was a little strange that my feet were getting so swollen. I figured I was just entering that third trimester and that it was normal.
Once we got back home, things went downhill pretty quickly. I started having a lot of body aches. During weeks 27 and 28 I was taking pregnancy safe pain reliever around the clock, every 4 or 6 hours. My lower and upper back were in pain, my right shoulder had *shooting* pain, I had strange stomach pains, and I was gaining a lot of weight. I was so uncomfortable in anywhere I sat or laid, and was taking epsom salt baths every couple of hours to try to relieve the pain. Adam would get up to go to work at 4am and I would be in the bath in pain. I would curl up in the fetal position in bed screaming in pain into my pillow at night becuase of the pain keeping me up. I would walk around the house at night and try to do big wide leg squats and stretches to relieve the pain. I went and got a prenatal massage, which only made me feel better temporarily. The pregnancy pillow didn't help. I remember explaining my pain as it felt like the baby was inside of me stretching at all directions and trying to expand my ribs. I thought maybe my body just couldn't handle the extra weight. I remember one day my mom brought me over a foam roller from my brother's gym because I thought it was just muscle soreness. When she got there I was laying on the living room floor early in the morning because I couldn't find any comfortable position or place to be. I had to cancel my classes I was teaching at the time because I just didn't feel good. I was only on once per month doctor visits at this point. I emailed my symptoms to my doctor when they first started. She said it sounds like normal pregnancy pains, and recommended I go to a physical therapist for the back pain. She said it could also be a kidney stone passing which is pretty painful. She also asked if it felt like I was having contractions, and if so, I should come in to be assessed for preterm labor. I didn't know what contractions felt like, so I brushed it off and assumed it was not contractions.
On July 3 I went to the fair with my friend, her husband and their daughter. I really didn't feel well but we had been looking forward to going to the fair and I didn't want to back out. I felt okay, but very swollen. The next day, we went to the 4th of July parade in the town we live in. The parade included a lot of walking around. I came home and put my very swollen feet up feeling pretty tired and swollen. Over the next few days, my symptoms continued to worsen. I sent a few more messages to my doctor saying my symptoms were not getting better, but she kept saying similar things as before, suggesting massage, etc. My next appointment with her was scheduled for July 10 so we felt like we would just check in at that time.
Read my next post titled "HELLP me" to read about the day we went to the ER for a migraine and ended up staying for an emergency c-section.