Conventional Treatments for Preeclampsia
The WORD eclampsia is from the Greek meaning “bolt from the blue”. If you’ve been diagnosed with milk preeclampsia, you may need only regular checks with your doctor or midwife, as long as the condition remains mild. You should have as much bed rest as possible, lying either on your left-hand side, because this improves the flow of blood to the placenta, or sitting well propped up. A midwife will probably visit you on a daily basis to check your blood pressure and, if it worsens significantly, you’re likely to be admitted to hospital. When you’re in the hospital, the doctors will use scans to monitor your baby’s growth. A CTC (cardiotochograph) is attached to your bump via a pad to check his or her heart rate.
The most effective cure for preeclampsia is to deliver the baby. This is because, after birth, your blood pressure and any other symptoms you’ve experienced will usually soon settle. For this reason, your doctor may decide to induce your delivery early (or to deliver your baby by Caesarean section). The risk to the baby is small if he or she is born just a few weeks early, but you may need to make a difficult decision if you develop severe preeclampsia early in your pregnancy. Both you and your partner, as well as your doctor, will need to take into account the severity of your condition and the risk to you of complications. You’ll also need to consider the relative risks to the baby if you continue with the pregnancy (remember that a preeclampsia baby often doesn’t grow well), rather than delivering the baby prematurely.
Medicines A large research study published in 2002 found that giving mothers with preeclampsia magnesium sulphate roughly halves their risk of developing full-blown eclampsia (and also reduces their risk of seizures, a symptom of severe preeclampsia). The medication is administered for about 24 to 48 hours by drip and is used especially in women with severe preeclampsia, where there is a great risk that it will progress to the more dangerous condition. If your preeclampsia is not severe, you may be given medication to normalize your blood pressure.
A healthy, balanced diet with sensible pregnancy weight gain can help control high blood pressure. Follow the guidelines for eating healthily during pregnancy and, in addition, ensure that you maintain an adequate salt intake (within overall healthy guidelines) because, contrary to advice for non-pregnant women (and for that matter, for men), during pregnancy the sodium in salt helps keep up the flow of fluids in your body, which helps reduce blood pressure and swelling. Drink plenty of fluids, too.
Vitamins and Supplements
A study in 2006 showed that pregnant women taking a prenatal supplement were 45 percent less likely to develop preeclampsia than pregnant women taking no supplements at all (the success rate was 71 percent in pregnant women who were not overweight). So, make sure that you take a good-quality prenatal supplement and top up to the following levels.
• B Vitamins (folic acid, B6, B12) These B-vitamins help control levels of homocysteine in your blood, which have been shown to be high in pregnant women who suffer from preeclampsia. Homocysteine results from a natural process in which your body breaks down an essential amino acid called methionine. When your body doesn’t detoxify the homocysteine properly, levels become high. This contributes to blood vessel damage and makes the blood more likely to clot.
• Calcium Research shows that calcium supplements may reduce the risk of women developing high blood pressure and preeclampsia during pregnancy. Calcium plays an important part in blood clotting and cell structure, so having good levels of calcium can prevent abnormal blood clotting and high blood pressure in your body.
• Antioxidants (Vitamin C with bioflavonoids, vitamin E) Although the cause of preeclampsia is unknown, it’s thought that increased oxidative stress and reduced antioxidant defences may play a part.
• Garlic This superfood has well-known effects on lowering blood pressure and is completely safe for you to take during pregnancy.
• Omega-3 fatty acids (1,000mg fish oil containing at least 700 mg EPA and 500mg DHA, daily) Having low levels of omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to an increased risk of preeclampsia. One piece of research showed that the incidence of preeclampsia was over seven times more likely in pregnant women who had the lowest levels of omega-3. (Use flax seed oil if you’re vegetarian).
Homeopathy Preeclampsia can be serious, so see a homeopath for individual treatment (talk to your doctor first). However, the following are useful remedies, taken in a 30c potency four times a day for five days. Use the remedies that are most relevant to you. If you show no signs of improvement after five days using these remedies, you need to see a qualified homeopath and be monitored by your doctor.
• Aurum metallicum if you have high blood pressure, feel stressed, and are craving sweets
• Belladonna for high blood pressure that is accompanied by a flushed, red face, but cold hands and feet
• Nat mur to help reduce fluid retention and swelling
Acupuncture High blood pressure can respond well to acupuncture – a course of treatment can also help to reduce swelling in your hands and feet.
Aromatherapy Use essential oils such as ylang ylang, orange, and sandalwood – all these oils can help lower blood pressure, calm the body, and regulate the heart rhythm. Place 1 or 2 drops of each oil in a bathful of water and relax in it for up to 20 minutes. Alternatively, use up to 15 drops of one or a combination of the oils diluted in 6 tsp. carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil, for a neck and shoulder massage (ask your partner to help).
Relax Any kind of relaxation technique, including meditation and gentle yoga, is useful for lowering blood pressure. Any of the meditation exercises can be helpful; and for yoga postures see a yoga instructor who can advise you on safe yoga practice during your pregnancy. It is recommended that you use a relaxation technique at least once a day and twice if you can manage it, for at least 15 minutes each time.
Adjust your sleep position Sleep on your left side, which will take the weight off your large blood vessels.