Guest article for Expectful. Read the full article here.
In my genuine curiosity, I spoke with Expectful Advisor and Specialist, Janine Higbie, a clinical nutritionist for pre- and postnatal women. I had legitimate concerns about how PCOS can flare during these precious motherhood transitions and how we can combat the side effects, allowing us to truly thrive in our new role as Mom — something we worked so hard to achieve.
A: Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that helps bring glucose into your liver, fat, and muscle cells where it is used for energy. This process also maintains a delicate blood sugar balance. Insulin resistance (IR) occurs when your cells become less responsive to circulating insulin, increasingly requiring more to have the same effects.
Throughout pregnancy, placental hormones increase IR. By the end of pregnancy, your body requires a 200-250% increase in insulin secretion to maintain healthy blood sugar. In a normal pregnancy, the body is able to adapt by producing more insulin. However, in some cases, the pancreas is unable to overcome the higher insulin demands, leading to elevated blood sugar and gestational diabetes. As many as 50-70% of women with PCOS experience insulin resistance prior to pregnancy. For these women, their pre-pregnancy IR can be exacerbated by pregnancy-related IR, increasing their risk of developing gestational diabetes.