A condition known as preeclampsia can be experienced by pregnant women past their 20th week of pregnancy. Preeclampsia is a sudden rise in blood pressure in pregnant women accompanied by proteinuria (elevated levels of protein in the urine) and edema (fluid retention). This condition can affect the brain, liver, and kidneys and may result in chronic health problems. Preeclampsia is a potentially fatal disease for both baby and mother and so should be addressed immediately after it is diagnosed.

Signs and Symptoms of Preeclampsia

Patients with preeclampsia may usually not feel any illness at all. However, some of these symptoms may arise:

-Low urine output
-Pain in the right shoulder
-Stomach pain that is felt underneath the ribs and usually on the right side
-Temporary loss of vision, photophobia (sensitivity to light), or blurred vision
-Throbbing, dull headaches that don’t lessen in intensity
-Weight gain of more than two pounds per week (could also be a gaining of weight that suddenly occurs over a couple of days)
-Eyes, face, and/or hands swelling

Preeclampsia Risk Factors

The first pregnancy of a woman can make her highly vulnerable to this condition although preeclampsia can strike during all pregnancies. The following are the other risk factors for preeclampsia:

-Autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus
-PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
-Females below 18 years of age or past the age of 40
-Multiple gestation
-Women who are obese (with more than 30% Body Mass Index)
-Women with a family history of preeclampsia
-Past history of kidney disorder, diabetes, or high blood pressure
-Past history of preeclampsia, especially if the condition arose prior to the third trimester

Preventing Preeclampsia through Natural Ways

1. Increase Your Intake of Salt -Use salt to make your food tastier. However, the salt you use ought to be Himalayan crystal salt or sea salt not table salt as the latter is not good for the health. Do not limit your salt intake.

2. Take Supplements – Take magnesium and calcium supplements each day. For other supplementation, you need to talk to your doctor or naturopath about other supplementations you may need. For better efficient magnesium absorption, Epsom salt baths are recommended.

3. Keep Yourself Adequately Hydrated – Drink when you are thirsty. It’s not only water you may consume. You can drink juices and herbal teas, as well. Consume about 2 to 4 liters of fluids each day. One good advice is to start the day by drinking a warm cup of water that’s added with juice of half a lemon and then follow it up over the next hour with 2 or 3 more cups of water. Then sip a liter of pregnancy tea infusion and a liter of water the rest of the day. You can dilute the juices with water that’s been naturally carbonated or drink small amounts of fruit juices that have been squeezed or juiced.

4. Exercise – This is an excellent way of preventing preeclampsia. Exercise, in general, increases blood flow in your body which in turn betters your blood pressure. The best exercise to prevent preeclampsia is stretching. It is much better at lowering the likelihood of this condition than walking, more so if the pregnant woman has already had the condition before and who have no exercise program at all. Yoga can be an excellent exercise option for preventing preeclampsia.

5. Lose weight – That is, if you are overweight. The risk of developing preeclampsia increases if your BMI is over 30%. Therefore, losing weight is a very important factor to consider in preventing the rise or the recurrence of preeclampsia during your next pregnancy.

6. Antioxidants – A study done in 2003 showed that women who had levels of lutein, alpha and beta carotene, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin had a lower likelihood of developing preeclampsia than women with poor levels of these antioxidants. Consult with your doctor or naturopath about the possibility of increasing the levels of antioxidants in your body.

7. Reduce Stress – Certain studies have revealed that stress may be a factor that increases the likelihood for preeclampsia. To help lessen the levels of stress in your mind and body, relaxation techniques such guided imagery (visualization technique), deep breathing, tai chi, meditation, or prenatal yoga is recommended. Two of the best ways of reducing stress is with acupuncture and massage therapy. They not only help you relax but reinvigorate your body as well.

8. You need to eat least 2400 calories of foods per day – The nutrient and energy needs of pregnancy can only be met by eating adequate amounts of quality and nutrient-rich foods. If this is not done, the chances of you developing preeclampsia become high.

9. Vitamin D – A current study revealed that low amounts of vitamin D in the body increases the risk of preeclampsia during pregnancy. A huge portion of the US population suffers from dangerously low amounts of vitamin D in their body. If you are pregnant and think your vitamin D levels are low, you need to take vitamin D supplements ASAP and/or consult with your Natural Health Practitioner for sound advice.

10. Protein – If you are pregnant you need to consume at least 80 to 100 grams of protein each day. Based on the brewer diet, eating the right amount of protein each day is one of the most important ways (if not the most important way) of preventing preeclampsia.

11. Fiber – If you want to prevent preeclampsia, then you need to increase your intake of fiber. A study done a few years back showed that women who ate greater than 24 grams of fiber per day are less likely to suffer from preeclampsia than women whose regular diet is low in fiber content.

Besides these tips, you need to monitor your urine protein and blood pressure regularly. If any of these levels increase, it is important for you to remain vigilant as preeclampsia usually develops very quickly into a dangerous and potentially fatal health problem. Keep your midwife or doctor informed always of any changes. It is very important that you go for regular check-ups.

Steven Goldfarb, L.Ac. is a board certified and licensed acupuncturist in West Orange, NJ and the founder of Goldfarb Chiropractic and Acupuncture Center.