Preeclampsia is a complication in pregnancy characterized by sudden high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and severe swelling. It affects around 5-8% of pregnancies and most often occurs in first time moms in their third trimester [source].
Preeclampsia is a dangerous condition and the only real cure is to deliver the baby. Consequently, most preeclamptic moms are induced as soon as they can be.
At this point, doctors do not know exactly what causes preeclampsia, therefore we cannot accurately predict or prevent it. However, there are several things we can do to attempt to avoid preeclampsia and many women who have had it in the past are willing to do whatever it takes to ward it off in the future.
In my first pregnancy, I developed preeclampsia very suddenly at 41 weeks. I was induced right away, had my baby 39 hours later, and then developed HELLP syndrome, which is an even more serious condition. It was certainly a rough process but fortunately, my baby was unaffected and healthy and I recovered a couple weeks later.
Going into my second pregnancy, I was so determined to do whatever I could to avoid preeclampsia and I am relieved to say, I did! I was able to experience natural birth in a birth center which was amazing and I went home 6 hours after delivery which was a huge contrast from the 5 nights I spent in the hospital with my first.
Maybe it was because this was my second pregnancy and I had the same partner, which lowers the risk of developing preeclampsia again. Or maybe it was because of the long list of other things I did. I will never know exactly why I didn’t get preeclampsia this pregnancy but nevertheless, I will be doing all of these things in any future pregnancy that I have.
Here they are:
1) I took a Baby Aspirin every day.
This was recommended to me by the OBs who worked with my midwives. One baby aspirin a day has been shown to lower the risk of preeclampsia by about 24% [source]. Better yet, there have been no instances of side affects for neither moms nor babies. This is certainly something to talk to your care provider about if you’re concerned about preeclampsia. I was especially faithful with this one.
2) I took a homeopathic called Sulphur once a week.
This is a more natural solution that was recommended to me by my midwives. Just ten pellets once a week is said to help maintain a healthy blood pressure. It’s a great idea to seek out a holistic care provider who can guide you in the use of homeopathics because I was so thankful to have this tool in my tool belt.
3) I made sure to eat as much protein as I could.
Protein is extremely important for maintaining healthy blood pressure in pregnancy. Because of this, nearly every meal and every snack all pregnancy long included protein. I ate a bunch of eggs, nuts, meat, beans, and Greek yogurt. If you want more information on this topic, check out the Brewer’s Diet. Although I could never consume as many calories as suggested, I felt it was still a good guide as I meal planned this pregnancy.
4) I exercised as often as I could.
I am definitely someone who needs regular exercise to stay sane, but this pregnancy, I was even more motivated to work out. Not only does it majorly reduce my stress levels, but I could clearly see a drop in blood pressure when I kept active, especially in those last few weeks of pregnancy.
5) I ate a lot of cucumbers and grapefruit and drank lime water.
Cucumbers and lime water both help reduce swelling which really had a positive impact on my mental game because swelling made me so nervous. Furthermore, grapefruits are said to reduce blood pressure almost overnight [source]. Any time I started to feel a little too swollen or a bit worried that my blood pressure was rising, I would load up on these three things and I’m so glad I did.
In the last month or two of my pregnancy, I ate a whole cucumber most days. Sometimes I filled a whole pitcher of lime water and drank it throughout the day. Grapefruits were my favorite bedtime snack and I made sure to always include them on my grocery list. I truly could tell a difference in my swelling and my blood pressure after eating and drinking so much of these three things.
6) I kept up my magnesium intake.
Magnesium is so important for maintaining healthy blood pressure. In fact, when I developed HELLP syndrome after my first pregnancy, I was put on a 24 hour magnesium drip through an IV to make my blood pressure go down. This time around, I was determined to use magnesium as a preventative rather than a treatment.
The recommendation is to supplement with around 350 mg a day [source] so I specifically picked out a prenatal vitamin that had some magnesium in it. Additionally, some days I would take an extra calcium-magnesium supplement, some days I would apply a magnesium lotion, and other days I would take an Epsom salt bath with atleast two cups of Epsom salts. Overall, I felt like the magnesium lotion made the biggest impact because I usually didn’t have any calf cramps the nights that I applied it. I will certainly have it on hand constantly in future pregnancies.
7) I took a Vitamin D supplement.
Finally, I took 2000 IU of Vitamin D each day which has recently been shown to help prevent preeclampsia [source]. It’s interesting to note that there are more cases of preeclampsia during the winter than there are in the summer months, which could possibly be due to the vitamin D we get from the sun [source].
Indeed, my first pregnancy was during the winter and early spring. Even though I spent so much more time outside and in my greenhouse during my second pregnancy, I still felt it was important to take a Vitamin D supplement, especially in the early fall months of my pregnancy. I am confident that it could have had an impact on my blood pressure.
Who knows which of these things, if any, helped me to prevent preeclampsia this time around. Sometimes I felt like I took an outrageous amount of supplements and precautions. However, it was all completely worth it to me and I would definitely do it all again ♥️
Have you had preeclampsia in any of your pregnancies? What have you done to try to maintain a healthy blood pressure since then?