Preeclampsia: How You Can Reduce The Risk

Posted by Riannon Page on

Pregnancy is an exciting and transformative time in a woman's life, but it also comes with its share of health concerns.

Preeclampsia is a condition in pregnancy which affects approximately 7% of all pregnancies and occurs between the 20th week of pregnancy and the first week after delivery. Early stage preeclampsia produces few clinical signs, and symptoms often progressively appear.

In this blog post, we'll explore what preeclampsia is, its risk factors, and strategies for prevention.

Note: Preeclampsia is a serous medical condition; if you have been diagnosed, you’ll need to seek medical intervention or work closely with you health care practitioner.

Complications of preeclampsia include:

  • Intrauterine growth restrictions
  • Preterm birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Fetal distress
  • Stillbirth
  • Neonatal complications

How is preeclampsia diagnosed?

Preeclampsia is typically diagnosed through a combination of clinical assessments including blood pressure monitoring and pathology testing during prenatal care.

  • Blood pressure monitoring: This is a key indictor of preeclampsia. To make the diagnosis, health care provides typically look for sustained high blood pressure i.e. 140/90 mm Hg or higher.
  • Proteinuria: Along with high blood pressure, the presence of protein in the urine is another significant diagnostic criterion.
  • Other symptoms: These may include headaches, visual disturbance (blurred vision, seeing spots), upper abdominal pain on the right side, and edema (swelling), especially in the hands and face and fast weight gain.
  • Pathology testing: Markers of liver and kidney function are tested as these organs can be effected by preeclampsia.
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound may be performed to assess the baby’s growth, amniotic fluid levels, and the well-being of the fetus. This can help determine the severity of the condition and whether early delivery is necessary.

How to reduce your risk of preeclampsia:

  • Increase fiber intake. Don't skip protein Keep up your recommended dietary intake for fiber getting in a variety of wholegrains, vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts. Chia puddings are great for a top-up as chia seeds are packed with fiber. A diet high in fiber, over 24 grams per day has been found to reduce the risk of preeclampsia.
  • Make sure you are having protein with every meal! Protein provides the building blocks for your body, maintains energy, and stabilises blood sugar helping to prevent preeclampsia.
  • Minimise stress. Have a stress management routine in place including practices such as yoga, stretching, deep breathing, getting out in nature, grounding, etc. Acupuncture & massage are also great stress-reducing activities
  • Spend time outside. Try to get out into the sunshine daily to optimise your vitamin D intake, keep track of your levels with your health care professional and work on optimising them if low!
  • Increase antioxidant rich foods. Incorporate wild organic mixed berries, a variety of vegetables & fruits, cruciferous vegetables, green tea, organic liver, seeds, and nuts.
  • Regular exercise. A great prevention method, exercise improves circulation which improves blood pressure. Incorporate regular stretching exercises or moderate activity.
  • Stay well hydrated. Ensure you are drinking good quality water aiming for 2-3 liters. We recommend starting the day with the juice of 1/2 a lemon added to warm water.
  • Diabetes management. If you have insulin dependant diabetes, good control of your blood sugars before becoming pregnant and early in pregnancy reduces your risk for having preeclampsia.
  • Swap to quality salt. Avoiding poor quality salt such as table salt and switching to Celtic sea salt or Himalayan crystal salt
  • Supplements. There are many nutrients indicated to help reduce the risk of preeclampsia! Chat with your naturopath to make sure you are taking supplements to reduce the risk of preeclampsia.

TIP: Prevention of preeclampsia begins in preconception care with both partners, as the quality of the sperm and ovum are both as critical as nutritional status of the mother to carry full term.

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