Evidence Based Fact Checked

High Cholesterol During Pregnancy Causes, Effects, Treatment

There is a common misconception concerning cholesterol; that it is all bad for your body.

In essence, cholesterol is a type of fat that our body needs to function optimally.

There are two types of cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Too much LDL cholesterol can be bad for your health, as it leads to other cardiovascular complications.

Why does cholesterol increase during pregnancy?

There are high estrogen and progesterone level in the body during pregnancy, and it is directly related to our cholesterol levels. It is one of the reasons why cholesterol levels are high during pregnancy.

Cholesterol levels will generally stay high for the pregnancy period, after which they will drop to more normal levels.

Is it normal to have high cholesterol during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, it’s common to have elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This is the main reason that many obstetricians do not recommend cholesterol testing while pregnant.

It is due to hormones that these changes in lipid profiles appear. Women who take birth control also have changes in their lipid profile, but not as pregnant women.

Also, there minor changes in the lipid profile during the last part of the menstrual cycle.

If you were to monitor cholesterol levels throughout the pregnancy closely, you would notice that they begin to rise in the second trimester.

The third trimester is when your cholesterol levels will reach their peak.

However, keep in mind that this is not a bad thing when you are pregnant. It is essential for your baby’s development, so don’t worry about your lipid levels.

What Is the Normal Cholesterol Level in Pregnancy?

The measurement of cholesterol level both for mother and child will be well over 200mg/dl.

The cholesterol ranges for adults are given below:

  • The normal cholesterol range for an adult is below 200 mg/dL, but ideally between 120 and 190 mg/dL.
  • In the first trimester of pregnancy, the cholesterol levels can range between 140 and 220 mg/dL.
  • During the second trimester of pregnancy, the cholesterol levels can range between 180 and 300 mg/dL.
  • In the third trimester of pregnancy, the cholesterol levels can range between 220 and 350 mg/dL.

How Is Common High Cholesterol in Pregnant Women?

High cholesterol has a different meaning when it comes to pregnant women. Anything between 200 and 350 mg/dL is considered dangerous for most adults but completely acceptable during pregnancy.

Cholesterol is needed to make vital hormones such as estrogen used to thicken the uterine’s inner lining. As the fetus develops into a baby, he/she will also develop their own cholesterol.

When cholesterol levels drop to normal after pregnancy?

It takes up to four weeks after the child is born to drop to normal levels for your cholesterol levels.

If six weeks have passed since the birth and your cholesterol levels are still bordering on the high level, it may be a good idea to have it checked.

A blood check will give the doctor sufficient information about your bad cholesterol, good cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.

According to research, it is revealed that breastfeeding can help both you and your baby. In women who have breastfed their baby, their cholesterol levels dropped considerably to normal levels.

The research also studied the effects on breastfed infants and found that they too benefit from lower cholesterol levels later in life.

Is it safe to get pregnant with high cholesterol?

High cholesterol can be detrimental to both the mother and infant. A woman who had high cholesterol before pregnancy has a heightened risk of premature labor and other pregnancy-related issues.

Elevated cholesterol levels of 260 mg/dl and higher with raised insulin levels have shown that women developed pregnancy-induced hypertension. This is a state of high blood pressure created by the pregnancy.

Is it safe to get pregnant with low cholesterol?

Low cholesterol can cause complications with the child’s well-being. Low cholesterol raises the risk of premature labor and some additional pregnancy-related problems.

Cholesterol is essential for healthy fetal development, and complications can arise when levels are too low, like low birth weight and smaller head circumference.

Triglycerides during pregnancy

Triglycerides are used for energy when you’re not consuming enough calories because additional triglycerides are required during pregnancy for extra energy.

High triglycerides can cause gestational diabetes, which can cause severe problems if not controlled properly.

Another complication of high triglycerides during pregnancy is preeclampsia. This condition decreases blood flow, which is the primary way to get nutrients to the baby. Moreover, Preeclampsia can also cause seizures and cardiovascular disease in the mother.

Can you take cholesterol medication while pregnant?

Despite the meager amounts of cholesterol medication content found in breast milk, breastfeeding mothers are not recommended to take cholesterol medications.

When it comes to statins (cholesterol-lowering medication), it is strongly recommended that breastfeeding women do not take these medications.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that statins are not recommended for pregnant women.

The effects have not been thoroughly studied, and it is always ideal for learning about the side effects of statins. You should discuss alternatives to statins with your doctor.

How to keep your cholesterol level normal during pregnancy?

It can be stressful to know that your cholesterol levels are much higher than usual, and it is known that stress can cause higher cholesterol levels.

In the meantime, you have to eat well-balanced meals and relieve yourself of any stress.

However, keep in mind that foods with high fat and high carbohydrate counts should be avoided. Replace fatty cravings with healthier alternatives, and you’ll be happy you did.

How to control cholesterol complications during pregnancy?

It is recommended to change your diet by reducing your fatty meats and dairy, keeping saturated fat down.

Also, avoiding trans fats will lower the amount of low-density lipoproteins in your system, which brings down cholesterol levels.

Introducing fiber is important because it helps lower LDL cholesterol levels by blocking the absorption of this “bad” cholesterol and eliminating them from the system.

Exercise is also recommended, consisting of 30-minute workouts for 5 days a week. Aerobic activities such as walking or swimming are great at lowering cholesterol.

Medication such as statins should be avoided due to potential adverse effects on the baby. Speak to your doctor about what methods should be used when trying to control cholesterol.

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DISCLAIMER: This article is for educational purposes only, always check with your medical doctor before stopping any prescription medications or when implementing any dietary and lifestyle changes.
References

Healthlyious has strict sourcing guidelines, believes in trustworthy and reliable sources, and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, medical journal publications, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.

  • Breastfeeding in Infancy and Adult Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2704490/
  • Lactation and Maternal Cardio-Metabolic Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4963981/

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