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Pre Eclampsia

Pre Eclampsia

What is Pre Eclampsia?

Pre eclampsia is a dangerous combination of high blood pressure, fluid retention, and high levels of protein in the urine of women after their 20th week of pregnancy.  It is sometimes called toxemia and it affects roughly 1 in 20 pregnant women.  If it is not treated, it can worsen into eclampsia, a potentially fatal condition.

Conservative Treatment for Pre Eclampsia

If you have a mild case of pre eclampsia, the health care provider may recommend bed rest.  It is best to lay on your left side, as this stops the weight of the uterus from pressing against important blood vessels.  Drink plenty of water to help you to urinate and to get rid of excess fluids.  The goal is to manage the condition in order to reach at least 36 weeks, when the baby can be safely delivered.

Alternative therapies can be used to help with pre eclampsia but these should only be used with medical treatment and supervision.  Alternative therapies that help with pre eclampsia include:

Supplements

There are some supplements that may help to prevent pre eclampsia but they are of no help once you have already developed the condition.  Others may lessen the severity once you have pre eclampsia.  If you are deficient in calcium or at risk for high blood pressure, calcium supplements may help to lower the risk of developing pre eclampsia.  For women that have a history of pre eclampsia and high homocysteine levels, folic acid and vitamin B6 may help.  Vitamin C and vitamin E may help in women that are at risk of pre eclampsia.  Lycopene may also help prevent pre eclampsia.  Magnesium sulfate, given by injection, can help lower blood pressure.  All supplements should be carefully managed by a medical professional.

Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine can be used during pregnancy but should only be done so under a medical professional’s supervision.  Herbs that can treat mild hypertension in pregnancy include:

• hawthorn berries
• cramp bark
• milk thistle
• passionflower
• Indian tobacco

Acupuncture

Acupuncture can be helpful for lowering blood pressure and generally increasing circulation throughout the body.

Severe Pre Eclampsia

In severe cases of pre eclampsia, it may not be possible to wait until 36 weeks.  You may be admitted to hospital where you will be given drugs to induce labour or a caesarean section.  Drugs to manage blood pressure and to help you urinate more may be given.  Corticosteroids may be given to help the baby’s lungs develop faster if it is delivered early.

Topic: Childbirth

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