My name is Morel and I'm totally new to the forum. I am 31 years old and am 30 weeks pregnant with my first child (a girl!). Everything had been going perfectly with my pregnancy (except for the food aversions early-on but that was mostly over by week 15) until about week 23 when my blood pressure numbers started going up and I have now been labeled "high risk". I have been receiving prenatal care from the local birthing center, but the midwives tell me that my chances are thin for having a birth-center-birth if this trend continues. I NEED HELP!!!
So my bp has mostly been in the 130's/80's, but has occasionally gotten over 140/90. I've been told that, as long as it stays in this range, I will not be forced to take bp medication. If I do have to take medication, I will have to birth in the hospital, which I'm trying to avoid. Not to mention, I REALLY don't want to put any chemicals in my body as I haven't even taken as much as a Tylenol my whole pregnancy. In fact, I've been mostly following this diet: http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/diet-for-pregnant-and-nursing-mothers
BUT, apparently my borderline hypertension has been damaging enough to slow the growth of our DD (she's about a week behind - in the 5th percentile, according to their estimates) and produce elevated levels of protein in my urine (330 mg in 24 hr collection). So far, my blood work has been fine. I will be going back for another ultrasound and have all the testing done again around 32 weeks. The high risk clinic wants to see that our DD has at least caught up enough to be in the 10th percentile, or there's talk of an early induction as she will be labeled as "growth restricted". And, of course, I will have to give birth in the hospital in this scenario, too. Not to mention, our DD may have to be premature and be in NICU - definitely NOT the route we want to go!
How did this happen? A perfect pregnancy (and both my DH and I ate/lived well even before conception), with only wholesome/organic/pastured/nutrient-dense foods, and high hopes of a totally natural birth-center-birth, and now it's looking like a hospital birth (and possibly lots of intervention) is almost a certain reality! I've been trying to rest as much as I can (and have taken naps daily the whole pregnancy) and do yoga/light walking regularly, and eat as well as I can, but nothing seems to be bringing down my bp numbers. All this wonderful nutrition just can't get to my baby - it's SO frustrating! They've determined it's my heart that is overworking but that my blood vessels are more than spacious. Any advice on how I can turn this around naturally???
Thanks SO much!
Congratulations on your pregnancy and I'm sorry that it seems to be developing problems. In my situation I just had slightly elevated bp and have been controlling it with magnesium malate, kyolic garlic capsules, and non-alcoholic rescue remedy for the stress. You could bring these things up with the midwives and see if they could help in your case? I wish the best for you for the rest of your pregnancy!
Thanks fljen! I forgot to mention that I've been taking 400 mg of Magnesium Glycinate daily, along with alfalfa tablets, and New Chapter Organics prenatal vitamins. I also take 2tsp of Blue Ice fermented cod liver oil daily. I occasionally take Calms Forte when I'm having trouble sleeping. I'll talk to the midwives about the garlic and rescue remedy, though - thanks!
Awesome. With the Kyolic garlic capsules I took one with each meal until my blood pressure normalized and then take one a day to maintain. With the rescue remedy I took it when I felt like I was getting stressed, which can cause your bp to go up. The epsom salt baths that were recommended by a pp would also be a good idea. Magnesium is what they give you in the hospital in an IV to bring down dangerously high bp and the bath should feel good and help you relax as well. The magnesium citrate I take two 200mg (of magnesium) capsules a day as well. Chelated magnesium (magnesium citrate/malate) will not cause the bowel problems that elemental magnesium will.
I do agree that sometimes even when trying to do everything "right", life can find a way to make it go sideways, treat yourself gently :)
Have you tried measuring your blood pressure before and after walking or in different positions? I didn't have high blood pressure with my last pregnancy but my dad has been recently having blood pressure issues and the only thing that helps him is walking... your pressure usually elevates while resting and lowers when your blood start flowing so you may want to track the trends throughout the day and start walking if it starts to get high.
Also, I don't think your diet has much to do with it, I had the worst diet while I was pregnant because I was so sick and mine was still perfect... I probably consumed literally 10x the maximum recommended sodium per day and it did nothing to me. My dad has been trying to control his blood pressure with a better diet but it's not helping much, his issues are the same whenever he isn't walking.
I haven't read this anywhere but personally believe that babies can be situated "wrong" and interfere with breathing and circulation so it might help to try some light aerobic exercises or yoga.
Hi FencedinFamily, thanks for asking! It's hard to say if anything is actually helping yet. We had some good news w/our last ultrasound - DD had grown exactly the amount she was suppose to grow between ultrasounds, so it *appears* that her growth hasn't been affected by my condition thus far. And, while my bp numbers haven't gone down, they also haven't gone up. However, I did another 24 hr urine collection and they found 462 mg of protein, up from 330 last time. So my urine protein levels are going up, which has them very concerned and considering me high risk for developing pre-e. Now they want me to get weekly ultrasounds to track her growth. We were trying to get as few of ultrasounds as possible since they haven't been proven to be safe, but seems like that's out the window now.
How many weeks are you? Think mine developed around week 23. Have they been testing your urine protein or tracking growth w/ultrasounds? I sure hope you have better luck curving your numbers than I have, but I'm gonna keep it up! Thanks for sharing the herb info - I'll look into those!
Bless your heart, FencedinFamily! So sorry to hear that you had to deal with this with your first two pregnancies, and now may be dealing with it a third time! Have they talked about putting you on bp medication? They were talking about this with me, but my numbers haven't gotten high enough for it so far (not that I want to be on medication). I'm really hoping I can keep things in check and won't have to deal with either medication or pre-e, but I realize it's not totally in my control (some would say there's really nothing I can do about it, period). It's good to hear that your urine protein levels have been fine, though. Keep me posted!
Hi again, FencedinFamily! I was wondering if you would mind sharing your experiences w/2 pre-e pregnancies? Did you have to be induced early? If so, how early? Anything else you'd like to share? Just trying to get an idea of what to expect if my pregnancy goes this route... Thanks!
Sorry to hear that!
My colleague went through almost exactly the same thing. She was supposed to have her baby 6 weeks after me but ended up having him a week after mine. He didn't have to stay in the NICU but they did stay in the hospital for about a week (I'm not exactly sure why, it could be unrelated). A year later, he has no health problems and has no trouble keeping up with my son.
At the time I can't imagine how stressful it was for them, but today she jokes about it saying she got off easy in that she didn't have to go through the torture of the last 5 weeks of pregnancy.
I'm so sorry you've been diagnosed with pre-e and won't be able to birth at the birth center. Hopefully birthing at the hospital will still be a good experience!
You asked about my previous experiences, so here goes ...
First pregnancy (12 years ago): Planned a homebirth with a lay midwife, but my bp started to rise around 34-35 weeks. I don't remember what the readings were. She watched me at first, recommended rest, and had me take cayenne supplements. When the readings stayed high, she said she wouldn't be able to attend me at home and that I'd have to go to a doctor. In that area, only family doctors delivered babies so I went to the one who acted as backup for the midwife. He was great, had actually attended a few homebirths many years before. I remember that I went to +1 on the protein, but I can't remember now if that was when I was still with the midwife or after I went to the doctor. I had mild edema in my feet, really nothing worse than what's considered normal. No headaches, no vision disturbances. At 38 weeks, I went in for a regular appointment and they found that I was 5cm so the doctor recommended induction. I was tired of being pregnant so I agreed. The baby was certainly ready since he was born less than an hour after I checked into the hospital. The whole experience was fine, and I have absolutely no complaints. The nurses were kind and warm. We were allowed to room in and went home the next day.
Second pregnancy (9 years ago): Saw a CNM who was now practicing at the hospital where I gave birth the first time. I don't remember when my bp started to go up, but it was somewhat earlier than the first time. She put me on bed rest at home, but I always felt like something was wrong when I'd just get up to go to the bathroom. After 2-3 weeks, I asked her if she could put me on bp medicine. She gave me Aldomet, I believe, but it never reduced my bp in the slightest. I ended up with quite a bit of edema all over my legs, my hands, and even my face somewhat. (None of the pitting edema, though.) I do not remember whether they found protein in my urine. My bp was so high, sometimes 200/150. When I was 37 weeks, I was so sick of being pregnant and not feeling well that I called the L&D department at the hospital to tell them that my left arm was numb (it was) and that I'd like to come in. They went ahead and put me on the fetal monitor and pitocin, and later the CNM came and broke my water. Labor took about 3 1/2 hours this time, but there weren't any complications. The baby was a bit small, 5lbs 12 oz, but otherwise healthy. Again, we roomed in and went home the next day.
Third pregnancy (5 years ago): I lived in a different area where the only people who attend births are OBs. After my first two experiences, I figured I didn't have a choice so I went to an OB. He is a great guy, nice personality, respectful, etc. But he's an OB with all the overly-aggressive tactics that they're taught. Everything was fine until a routine visit when I was 33 weeks and showed an elevated bp. This was the first elevated bp I'd had, and they only took it once - even so, the OB immediately sent me to the hospital for monitoring. They put me on magnesium sulfate, which did bring the bp down, but the OB never would let me go home. He would not consider home-based bedrest or oral medication that I could take at home. He was adamant that I simply stay in the hospital. Well, you can imagine how hard that is (especially when I had a 3 and 7 year old). After a week, I told him he either needed to let me go home or just induce labor. The day after I hit 34 weeks, he induced labor. The baby was born pretty quickly, maybe an hour after labor started. He was little, 4lbs 5oz, but fortunately healthy. He didn't need any oxygen or other "helps," though they wanted him in the incubator whenever someone wasn't holding him. I had to stay in the hospital for several more days until they were sure my bp would stay down without the magnesium sulfate. This hospital experience was so incredibly different from my previous ones. Only one of the nurses was nice. One of the others was so mean that she brought me to tears. They had a rule that I could not hold the baby at night, so I was forced to let them take him to the nursery every night (so he could be in the incubator ... why on earth couldn't they have rolled it into my room?!) After I was discharged, the baby still had to stay another 4-5 days until the pediatrician was satisfied that he'd stay warm without the incubator.
This pregnancy, I live in the same area and truly hope to avoid that hospital if at all possible. Right now, I'm consulting with a midwife who lives in another town and trying these natural measures to reduce my bp. My husband and I talked about it again today, and if the bp doesn't come down in the next week or two, I suppose I'll have to go back to the OB. It's so hard to be in an area where it feels like there aren't any choices. The closest natural birth midwives with hospital privileges are two hours away.
Anyway, I am praying for you to have a wonderful hospital experience! I know it's possible. :-)
Thanks so much for the personal stories, FencedinFamily, and for the story about your colleague, Escaping! Sounds like things were definitely more stressful at the time, but that they all resulted in healthy babies, which is the most important part! I'm just going to keep doing all the natural remedies/eating well/resting like I've been doing and hope for the best! :) Oh, and also hurry up and get the rest of our baby gear (just in case she comes early) and make a good birth plan! Best of luck w/the rest of your pregnancy, FencedinFamily!
Second is that sometimes high bp just happens in pregnancy, especially in a first pregnancy. That is what ob told me. My above average bp went away around 34 weeks I wanna say? I was running about 25 PTs above my normal on top and about 10 on bottom number. Mine was always low to begin with, then one day it just shot ip like crazy, stayed high for like 8 weeks, then dropped down to about 120 ish over 80 and hen kept dropping, just from me taking it easier, running less errands, not even ding dishes. So stop being up and about and see what happens. Sometimes it's not anything you did wrong per se, but resting a lot can help.
also try reducing dairy at night. Dairy can inceease mucus in throat/nose and thus worsen sleep apnea, and apneas can raise bp. One last thing to try. But I'd try reduced chores and errands first and foremost...only be on your deet if u have to. I broke down and took a few shorter walks but I was careful to not overheat or let hands get puffy from the walk
Thanks for the thoughts/suggestions Bobcat! The MD's now officially have me on bed rest (but can still do a few basic things) so I'm hardly on my feet at all anymore. It does seem to be helping with my bp. Even though things "seem" to be going a little better now, I still have this stupid pre-eclampsia diagnosis and they WILL be inducing me sometime between week 37 and 38 (I'm 34 weeks now), when I'm considered "full term". I can't get out of it or change their minds. They say that I'll have a better chance at having a more natural birth this way since I'll hopefully be avoiding complications with the pre-e. And they insist that once you develop pre-e in a pregnancy, it doesn't go away. Unfortunately, they found a lot of protein in my last 24 hr urine collection and are certain that things can only get worse, no matter how much my bp numbers improve. I think they're just being overly cautious to avoid any possible malpractice lawsuits, but then I've also heard that pre-e isn't something to mess with, so I guess I've resigned myself to the fact that this isn't going the be the best pregnancy and birth but that I should have a healthy baby girl in my arms soon!
I would like to hear more about your experience following WAPF. I have personally given up on trying to get that much fat in my diet. My focus has been protein lately, in a half-assed attempt at following the Brewers Diet. And thanks for the suggestion about the dairy, but we only drink raw goats milk here (since we have our own goats) and it doesn't seem to cause mucus problems for me. I could see how grocery store milk could, though, and could lead to those problems w/sleep and bp.
You can change their minds by getting that blood pressure down.
I'm on my 4th pregnancy and I had gestational high blood pressure with the first baby one week before delivery. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th one I knew it was coming and when my BP started to rise to 130/80 in the 2nd trimester, I went on a strict low sodium diet (aimed for 1000mg/day), took a 500mg potassium supplement with each meal (ie, 3 times a day) in addition to eating foods high in potassium, took magnesium and calcium, and drank 64 oz of water a day. This has worked every single time and I have never once been diagnosed pre-E. Now, my BP on this diet and at 27 weeks pregnant is consistently at 115/75.
Decreasing stress certainly can help but gestational high BP is a biological issue where your sodium ion pump is totally out of whack. You’ve got to cut the sodium (adding protein to your diet doesn’t do this) and increase your other electrolytes. All it means is eating a natural diet free of processed foods and fast food/restaurants and if you do eat processed, read the nutrition label.and don’t eat servings above 250mg of sodium. It is really hard to do and takes a about a week to see results but this really will work if you can manage it.
Pre-e is absolutely not something to mess around with, so I'm glad your doctors are on top of it. When they don't take pre-e seriously, they don't just get sued, they get REAMED. This is a known, relatively common, dangerous complication of pregnancy, and failure to respond to it adequately can call a doctor's hospital privileges, and license to practice, into question. Women and babies do sometimes die of pre-eclampsia, and if their doctors are still in business, they had to be able to show the morbidity and mortality review clear, detailed evidence that they handled the situation appropriately.
The dietary steps may be worth trying, but please keep in mind that we do not know for sure what causes eclampsia and pre-eclampsia. The causes appear to be multifactorial, and to be related to pregnancy itself (one theory is that pre-e may be caused by an immune system response to the pregnancy). If you try dietary changes and they don't work for you, it's not because you didn't do them hard enough.
The protein in your urine is not a good sign, and lower sodium is not going to change that, really.
Forgive me for sounding bleak. During my own high risk pregnancy, the CNMs I was seeing consistently told me that my problem would clear up, and discouraged me from thinking through scenarios for c-section and other medical intervention, so when the emergency hit (I started hemorrhaging at home, and wound up delivering at a completely different hospital then planned), I was totally unprepared. I'm still pretty pissed at them for this, and the resulting baby turns four this fall. Planning for a natural delivery at term did me no favors. Don't get me wrong: it was what I wanted, and I still wish that things had worked out that way. But I think there's a point where it becomes helpful to consider what happens if things go haywire.
I agree with your doctors that an induction at 37 weeks is more likely to lead to a vaginal delivery and a healthy baby then waiting for either the pre-e to get so bad that your induction is an emergency, or for you to go into labor on your own. The reputation that inductions have (here and in many other places) is that they lead, inevitably, to c-section. This isn't entirely true, but an emergency induction is a situation with a lot of potential to lead to a crash section. Ideally, you'd arrange the induction to start early in the morning shift at the hospital, and they would have your delivery covered by the neonatology staff, so that they keep a team in hospital until you deliver and they are sure your baby doesn't need assistance.
I hope that the rest of your pregnancy is uneventful, and your girl is safely in your arms soon.
To add a bit- the protein in your urine means your kidneys are not functioning like they should be. Increasing the protein in your diet is going to increase their work load. This is not going to be helpful!
I'm so sorry for this scary situation. Baby'll make it all worth it!
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I had a very similar situation to yours with my pregnancy with DS. Everything was perfect until about 34 weeks when my BP went up. We decided to monitor, put me on bed rest, and try natural supplements (I'll have to look which, it included a magnesium that you made a drink from and a B-complex vitamin) as well as starting Evening Primrose Oil to ripen my cervix for a potential induction. Ultimately I was induced fairly abruptly at 38 weeks, but the EPO had helped with my cervix enough to make my midwives' "gentle induction" process fairly successful.
I'll be blunt and honest--I did not have the birth I wanted, but I had more success than I feared. Other than pitocin I had a natural birth, I suspect it would have gone better with a more supportive (read: less evil) nurse.
I was lucky to have very supportive midwives who worked with the hospital and a doctor who believes in natural birth as well. He was 100% in my corner every time my nurse tried to "tattle" on me and force meds on me, he even came by after DS was born to tell me that I'd done great and the nurse was nuts.
As well as supplements, eating high protein can help since a protein deficiency is part of the problem if I recall correctly. I also seem to remember that floating in a pool can be helpful (drape over a swim ring or other float) if your midwife will approve it while on bedrest (mine did, I just wasn't allowed to walk to it--had to drive).
I also had some success with visualizations (both in labor--cervix opening, etc. and of calming things to lower BP during checks).
Hi Morel-sorry you are going through this. I second switching to magnesium citrate-it's very good for you. The glycinate can actually interfere with nutrient absorbing. Also, I'll throw it out there for you to look at, and it has been debated to death on mothering, but have you checked the brewer diet for pre eclampsia? If you're following the wp diet, it's not much of a stretch.
Now for personal experience-our first I had high bp. They made us get so many u/s and nst it stressed me out even more, and I swear made my bp higher. Even right after he was born, my bp went crazy high and I swear it was because his whole delivery was nothing we wanted and super stressed me out. Ds measured just fine when he was born-no one thought to look at us-we are not tall people. They were concerned about his growth though. They talked us into an induction at 40wks because they were afraid he wasn't doing well with my bp. I had an okay diet, not the best. I think being first time parents and all the stress just contributed, imo.
2nd time around-much better diet, no preterm problems, no bp problems, mw practice, not much stress.
We'll see about this time. So far my bp is okay.
Do what you can to de stress as well. Yoga, calm music, reading if you enjoy it etc. The magnesium citrate is calming, or supposed to be. My mw suggested this-http://www.calmnatural.com/magnesium-pregnancy If it shoots up high though, you need to roll with it and what they recommend. A friend of mine ended up on bed rest around 30wks till 36 when they did a csec and she was on bp meds till a few weeks after.
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