Do I Really Have to Watch My Cholesterol When I’m Pregnant?


Health Diet is Important During Pregnancy | pregnant woman eating salad photo

A Woman’s diet during pregnancy is very important, especially when it comes to cholesterol.

It’s always wonderful when our infertility patients become pregnant. Like all mothers to be, they want to know what they should do to take care of their precious pregnancy, and diet is often a first concern. Many women ask me if they have to watch what they eat, now that their diet is a factor in two lives.

The answer is yes, as a general principle in a healthy pregnancy. But women with high cholesterol levels should be particularly careful about what they eat during pregnancy. At Reproductive Science Center we check cholesterol panels on all women over 40 years old and in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and obesity, as cholesterol levels are usually higher among these groups of women. High cholesterol can run in families and can be elevated even in otherwise healthy women.

We know that lipid (fat) levels increase during pregnancy, so if you have high levels lipids (cholesterol is a type of lipid) before you conceive, be very careful when you become pregnant. Doctors are just beginning to understand the associations between lipid levels and pregnancy outcomes.

High levels of triglycerides, which are another type of lipid found in the blood, appear to double the risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia in pregnant women. These conditions are dangerous for both mother and child. This appears to be independent of body mass index, meaning this increased risk is not due to obesity.

Presently, medications to combat high triglyceride levels are usually not used during pregnancy, so diet and exercise are the mainstay of treatment. Reducing your triglycerides prior to pregnancy seems to be the best medicine.

How can you reduce triglyceride levels?

  • Reduce the amount of trans fats and saturated fats you consume (butter, oil, etc.)
  • Eat foods with less sugar
  • Choose whole grain foods
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes daily
  • Limit alcoholic beverages.
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