High cholesterol during pregnancy may leave you feeling concerned about your health and the health of your unborn baby. However, your baby’s body uses cholesterol for proper development.
In fact, your doctor will recommend against cholesterol-lowering medications even if your blood tests reveal high cholesterol during pregnancy.
In this article, you will find out more about how your body uses cholesterol, how to test your levels, and more importantly, whether high cholesterol is a real danger or not when pregnant.
High Cholesterol During Pregnancy – How Cholesterol Is Used
Your blood cholesterol level will typically increase from the time you first become pregnant until you deliver. Under normal circumstances, you may have a blood cholesterol level that is considered above the accepted range.
Following delivery, your cholesterol should drop down again, especially if you are breastfeeding.
The media creates a lot of stories about the health risks associated with high cholesterol. What you may not know is your body creates and uses cholesterol every day to make new hormones, vitamins, cell membranes, and digestive enzymes.
When you are pregnant, your baby depends on your cholesterol for normal nervous system development.
High Cholesterol During Pregnancy – Testing Your Cholesterol Level
Your doctor may decide not to test your blood for high cholesterol during pregnancy. You may feel this is irresponsible; however, it is an accepted practice to wait until approximately six weeks after delivery to test your cholesterol level.
Your blood has cholesterol traveling through it at all times. Because cholesterol is a waxy fatty substance, it does not dissolve in your blood. Instead, a protein molecule carries the cholesterol through your bloodstream in the form of lipoprotein.
The two main types of lipoproteins important for your heart health are LDLs (low-density lipoproteins) and HDLs (high-density lipoproteins). Your doctor likes to see a low LDL count and a high HDL count in your blood. Because high cholesterol during pregnancy is normal, your doctor will expect to see both higher LDL and HDL levels.
Your cholesterol spikes during pregnancy in response to hormonal changes. Your blood cholesterol level is always under the influence of normal hormonal shifts and small spikes can occur during your monthly menstrual cycle.
Your cholesterol will continue to rise from the time of conception, through your second trimester. Your cholesterol will likely peak in your third trimester, then lower following delivery. At four weeks post-partum your cholesterol level should be back to your pre-pregnancy level.
High Cholesterol During Pregnancy – Steps You Can Take
If your doctor prescribes any drug to lower cholesterol when pregnant, DO NOT take them.For example the Lescol drug can cause birth defects if taken during pregnacy or more importantly can cause harm to a nursing infant since lescol passes into breast milk.
Cholesterol is risky only when it builds up for a long time. Pregnancy lasts 9 months so that’s not a sufficient time to cause any damage.
You can actually control your cholesterol, with a diet low in saturated fats that contains foods with omega-3 fatty acids such as fish and flaxseed oil.
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