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Five Healthy Food Habits That Can Help During Pregnancy If You Have a History Of PCOS


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The global prevalence of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) according to studies was 1.55 million in 2017. The numbers have steadily grown since then. This metabolic disorder primarily affects women of reproductive age, especially between 15 and 49 years.

Besides the hormonal imbalance and the allied complications, what stands out in PCOS is the influence of the diet a person is on. The influence of PCOS on and during pregnancy is severe. Not only does it make it more difficult to conceive naturally, but the metabolic disorder also affects the ovarian health of the patient.

This article will explore what foods to avoid in pregnancy and which ones to eat, especially if you have a history of PCOS.

PCOS and Pregnancy – the Correlation

If you have an idea about PCOS, you likely know that the metabolic disorder heavily alters fertility. Women with a PCOS diagnosis often have a hard time conceiving naturally and might have to start fertility treatment to regulate ovulation and menstrual cycles.

That said, studies have found that women with PCOS are more prone to experiencing pregnancy complications. Reports also suggest that babies born to women with PCOS are more likely to be in the neonatal intensive care unit after their birth due to complications.

The list of pregnancy complications associated with PCOS include:

Miscarriage – studies suggest that pregnant women with a PCOS diagnosis are more likely to experience an early pregnancy loss or miscarriage. Some studies report that the use of metformin during pregnancy might reduce this risk but the results aren’t conclusive enough.

Gestational diabetes – the risk of the onset of gestational diabetes is quite common in pregnant women with a history of PCOS. It could be a result of insulin resistance in the body. Gestational diabetes is thankfully treatable if diagnosed at the right stage.

Preeclampsia – this is a condition marked by a steep increase in the blood pressure levels in a pregnant woman. Not just the baby, the onset of preeclampsia, followed by eclampsia can be fatal for the mother as well.

Pre-term birth – women with PCOS are at risk of delivering their baby pre-term, which is giving birth before 37 weeks of gestation.

C-section delivery – since the pregnancy complications rate with PCOS is quite high and risky, most women with PCOS often have to undergo a cesarean delivery as opposed to normal vaginal birth.

Besides educating yourself about the risk factors and sorting out what foods not to eat in pregnancy with a history of PCOS, focusing on what to eat is equally important. We will shed more light on that in the next section of the article.

What are Some Healthy Food Habits to Adapt during Pregnancy?

When you have a history of PCOS, the risk of miscarriage or fetal loss is three times more than a normal and healthy pregnancy. Since it is a metabolic disorder, food and diet play a very crucial role in managing the symptoms and reducing the potential risks and complications.

Some of the top food habits you can integrate into your life to reduce PCOS complications during pregnancy are:

1. Focus on Weight Management

Overweight and obesity are key markers of PCOS. But, when you are pregnant, the risks of a miscarriage, pre-term birth, or even elevated blood pressure can be managed with optimal weight management.

Both diet and exercise play a crucial role in weight management during pregnancy. While you have to eat a balanced diet with lots of organic and fresh produce, the exercise should be done under supervision.

You want to stay active during your pregnancy but you also don’t want to overexert and inflict any harm to yourself or the baby during the pregnancy term. So, discuss safe exercising options with your doctor before you start.

2. Include more Fiber in the Diet

Pregnancy brings along one of the most dreaded symptoms – constipation. If you are constipated and not having regular bowel movements, it is likely going to make you feel uncomfortable throughout your pregnancy term.

Adding fiber to your diet can relieve those symptoms quite proactively. Furthermore, fiber-rich foods are also very filling, which means that you are less likely to overeat or feel hungry at odd hours of the day.

Having a set, healthy and balanced diet rich in fibers can help you manage your weight better and reduce potential risks of weight gain, which can irrevocably lead to PCOS-related pregnancy complications.

3. Focus on Eating Smaller Meals

Pregnancy is a very unique phase in a woman’s life. Not only is your body undergoing physical changes, you are also more likely going to experience shifts in your diet. Food aversions are very common during pregnancy, much like hunger pangs.

Since you are eating for two, it isn’t surprising that feeling hungry quite often is normal. It isn’t something you need to hide or be ashamed of. While keeping track of which foods to avoid in pregnancy, you also need to make a list of the permissible foods.

Instead of eating huge portions during the “main” meals of the day, break down your meals into smaller portions. Include more snacking options so you can nibble on something healthy when you feel peckish.

Alongside your meals, focus on your hydration too since it helps purify the blood and maintain optimal physiological functions in the body.

4. Include more Anti-inflammatory Foods

Anti-inflammatory foods have proven to be extraordinary in reducing the common PCOS-related pregnancy complications, including risks of elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, etc.

Focus on including foods like spinach, tomatoes, olive oil, fish, fresh fruits, etc. in your diet. These will keep the risks of inflammation in check and also prioritize your health throughout the pregnancy period.

Besides an anti-inflammatory diet, your doctor will also suggest a balanced vitamin supplementation, including Vitamin D, etc. to improve fetal growth and development in the womb.

5. Cut out Sugar

Refined sugar is the biggest antagonist of PCOS. If you want to have a safe and healthy pregnancy with a history of PCOS, you need to cut out junk food, refined sugar, and even excess refined carbohydrates during the pregnancy term.

Cutting out sugar can benefit a PCOS patient in multiple ways:

  • Reduce weight gain and risks of obesity
  • Reduce risks of insulin resistance in the body
  • Reduce risks of gestational diabetes

If you find it difficult to cut back on refined sugar and carbs, eliminating them out of the blue can be challenging. So, take small and conscious steps towards reducing sugar intake and then stoppin altogether. 


PCOS has several negative implications during pregnancy. However, most of these symptoms are manageable, provided that you are following the precautions mentioned by your OBGYN. If something doesn’t seem right, consult your doctor about the issue and get it resolved as soon as possible. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What foods to avoid in early pregnancy?

If you have a history of PCOS and you are pregnant, we’d recommend eating a balanced and nutritious diet. Cut out the junk and processed food as much as possible and switch to healthier options like whole grain, fresh fruits, vegetables, etc.

How can I keep a healthy pregnancy with PCOS?

The best tips to maintain a healthy pregnancy with PCOS are to eat healthily, lead an active lifestyle and manage stress-related symptoms.

What fruits should be avoided in PCOS?

If you are wondering what foods to avoid during pregnancy in India, we’d recommend avoiding dark red fruits like grapes, cherries, blackberries, etc.


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