One in every 20 pregnancies may lead to preeclampsia, which generally develops during the third trimester. It is a serious pregnancy complication, but early detection may keep it from becoming a severe condition.
What is preeclampsia?
This is a pregnancy complication that runs from mild to severe. First-time moms, those carrying twins, or diabetes patients are at high risk of developing the condition. Pregnant women who have previous experience with gestational hypertension can expect to suffer the same thing in their next pregnancy.
Other risk factors include age (younger than 20 and older than 40), pre-existing kidney disease or high blood pressure, sisters and mother who had preeclampsia, and obesity.
What are the symptoms of preeclampsia?
Symptoms may vary, depending on whether an expectant mother has mild or severe preeclampsia.
- High blood pressure
- Water retention
- Protein in the urine
- Blurred vision
- Urinating small amounts
- Nausea or vomiting
- Intolerance to bright light
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in the upper right abdomen
The maternal mortality rate of eclampsia is higher in developing countries than in developed countries, which is at 14% and 0-1.8%, respectively. In the US, the rate ranges from 5.6% to 11.8%. A mother and her baby could die because of preeclampsia. This why prevention is crucial.
Ways to prevent preeclampsia
Eat magnesium-rich food
Magnesium has been linked to a reduced risk of preeclampsia when taken in while pregnant. It can also keep morning sickness at bay, while alleviating sciatica and restless leg cramps. With this in mind, eat magnesium-rich foods, such as beans, fish, seeds, nuts, leafy green vegetables, and avocados. You can also use Epsom salts and magnesium spray.
Achieve balance between calcium and iron
Like magnesium, calcium also lowers the risk of preeclampsia, provided only the right form of calcium is taken in. This is because some forms lower iron absorption, which is a mineral essential to a healthy pregnancy. Since pregnant moms need to keep a healthy weight, they should eat sources of calcium that aren’t dairy, such as white beans, bok choy, dried figs, sardines, and almonds.
Increase fiber intake
A high-fiber diet can help decrease the risk of preeclampsia and other pregnancy complications, while helping an expectant woman’s digestive system. In a study conducted, 1,538 pregnant Washington State residents were given food frequency questionnaires to assess their diet 3 months before and during pregnancy.
They were then divided into four groups, depending on their fiber intake. The results showed that women who reportedly eat more than 21g of fiber daily have a reduced risk of developing preeclampsia by 66-72%.
Drinking plenty of water is another way to prevent this risky pregnancy complication. The daily recommended intake is 6 to 8 glasses, but more is better. This may be frustrating for some women, what with frequent trips to the bathroom, but it’s either that or preeclampsia.
Exercise done on a daily basis is known to effectively lower the risk of pregnancy complications, including preeclampsia. Be sure to speak with a doctor before attempting any form of exercise. Women who have the same discussion in past pregnancies are advised to perform daily stretching, as it is more beneficial than walking, as some studies suggest.
Maintain a healthy weight
A BMI of 30 or higher increases the risk of preeclampsia. This is why pregnant moms should maintain a healthy weight and lose any excess pounds developed during pregnancy. Women who have a higher BMI and wish to get pregnant are recommended to lose weight first.
Regular exercise and proper diet are the best and most natural ways to lose weight. Before following any form of diet, pregnant women are advised to speak to a medical professional or dietician.
Avoid fried or salty foods
Salty foods are a problem if you have high blood pressure, which is a symptom of preeclampsia. They also cause you to retain water, which is related to the condition. But because you need adequate fluid levels, keep the salt in moderation. Anything unhealthy will also put you at risk of a pregnancy complication, so cut back on fried foods, high-sugar snacks, and packaged goods.
Get enough rest
Lack of sleep can lead to stress and fatigue, which would be bad for expectant moms. They should get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep or more. They should also find ways to relieve stress and steer clear of anything that will make them feel overwhelmed or distressed.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Alcohol is linked to fetal alcohol effects (FAE) or birth defects resulting from a mother’s intake. Caffeine can increase metabolism-causing stress on the baby, interfere with sleep, reduce iron absorption and increase anxiety. So, if there’s any liquid a mom should take, it should be nothing but water.
Use doctor-recommended supplements or medication
Studies showed that low dose aspirin and the supplement Pycnogenol can reduce the risk of preeclampsia. But these should only be taken with the advice of a doctor or medical care professional because of possible side effects and contraindications.
Pycnogenol, for example, can lead to complications when used with other medications, which is why expectant moms should seek medical advice before taking it.
Expectant mothers should do anything possible to keep preeclampsia from developing because it is a risky and serious pregnancy complication. By following the tips above, you lower the risk of developing the condition.