Preventing Preeclampsia: 4 Lifestyle Factors that Can Help

Jun 14, 2024
Managing blood pressure during pregnancy.

For many women, pregnancy is one of the most beautiful and life-changing periods in their lives.  It’s a time when we truly get the opportunity to witness the miracle and gift of life, and that can shake us to our core- bringing us closer to ourselves and the ones we love. Within my practice, I work with many women who are both wanting to conceive and who are already pregnant.  I frequently receive questions from women about how they can set their bodies up for success in hopes of avoiding complications in order to have a safe and healthy pregnancy.  

One condition I get asked about is preeclampsia.  Although there is much concern and fear around it, I like to remind and reassure my clients that taking the time to understand the condition and then apply certain lifestyle changes can go a long way in helping to prevent and reduce its severity.  In fact, I have worked with many women who endured preeclampsia in their first pregnancy and have gone through subsequent pregnancies without complications after having implemented some simple lifestyle changes.  My hope for today’s blog is that it helps you find comfort and confidence in knowing that having a safe and healthy pregnancy IS possible. 

Measuring your blood pressure during pregnancy.

What is Preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a condition characterized by high blood pressure, protein in the urine and possible fluid retention.  It generally develops during the last trimester or after the 20-week mark and affects between 5-8 percent of pregnant women.  More often than not, symptoms other than the keynote ones are experienced.  These symptoms may include headaches, vision changes, dizziness, nausea and/or fatigue.  In rare cases, there may not be any visible signs and symptoms of the condition. 

Preeclampsia may lead to an increased risk of premature birth, placental abruption, stillbirth or low birth weight. Left untreated, preeclampsia may also lead to eclampsia, which CAN be deadly.  If you suspect you may have preeclampsia, it is important you speak with your doctor as soon as possible about the symptoms you are experiencing.  

Why Does Preeclampsia Develop?

Now that we’ve established what preeclampsia is, let’s dive deep into some of the factors impacting this condition!  Understanding why a symptom or condition develops is half the battle won when trying to feel better.  It is truly the first step (and a BIG step at that!) in moving forward with our health.
In an interview I did with Anthony William, the Medical Medium, it was shared that during pregnancy, 80% of a woman’s immune system goes into her womb to protect the baby and help it grow and develop.  This diversion of reserves means that the woman is only left with 20% of her own immune system to keep her body healthy and happy.  With a lowered immune system, pathogen and pathogenic material levels can rise, putting strain on various parts of the body.

Managing preeclampsia during pregnancy.

Blood Pressure

During a healthy pregnancy, the heart draws blood directly from the liver, and the blood is of healthy viscosity. Drawing blood from the liver should be like sipping water from a straw- everything flows properly, and the heart doesn’t have to work any harder than it needs to.  However, during some pregnancies, the liver may become overloaded, stagnant, sluggish, clogged, and congested with toxins and pathogens that the body may have otherwise had under control. When this happens, the heart has a much harder time drawing blood.  In this case, it is like trying to sip water from a clogged straw.  With a congested liver and viscous blood, blood pressure begins to rise above normal.  

Water Retention

When we talk about water retention, we must look to the lymphatic system!  If the liver becomes overburdened, as a backup, the body sends what the organ can’t deal with to the lymphatic system.  As the lymphatic system then becomes more and more congested with pathogenic material, the body must retain water to dilute the lymph so that its toxicity concentration doesn’t rise to dangerous levels. This is what leads to the fluid retention you see in those suffering from preeclampsia.

Protein in the urine 

Protein in the urine is also a classic symptom of preeclampsia.  It is a sign that the kidneys are struggling as a result of this accumulation of troublemakers that aren’t being properly dealt with by the body.

Leafy greens can help with managing preeclampsia.

4 Lifestyle Factors that Can Help Prevent Preeclampsia

Although the idea of developing preeclampsia can be stressful for a woman, there are several natural approaches you can take to help lower your risk.  These simple lifestyle factors can be utilized by women who would like to try and prevent it from occurring in the first place or who have had preeclampsia in the past and would like to reduce the risk of developing it during subsequent pregnancies.  If you are a woman who is already pregnant and experiencing preeclampsia, incorporating some of the advice below can also be a great option. 

  1. Nutrition

If you are not currently pregnant but are looking to have a baby and want to do what you can to avoid pregnancy complications, my advice is that you work to build up your immune system reserves prior to trying for a baby.  The aim is to get your immune system as strong as possible so that your body is in good, strong health for you and your baby when you do conceive.  If you have already been diagnosed with preeclampsia, consider the below as well.  To strengthen your immune system, look to nutrition:

Consider reducing:

  • Dairy
  • Gluten
  • Eggs
  • Pork
  • Corn
  • Tuna
  • Industrial oils (vegetable oil, palm oil, canola oil, soybean oil)
  • High-fat foods

Replace the foods listed above with the ones listed below.  What follows are foods, herbs and supplements that actively heal the body and feed and strengthen your immune cells!

  • Fruit
  • Leafy greens
  • Vegetables
  • Fresh herbs
  • Potatoes
  • Celery juice
  • Living water (water with added lemon or lime juice)
  1. Movement

Movement can be used as a preventative measure for many pregnancy-related concerns. Movement increases circulation which in turn improves blood pressure and takes pressure off of the heart. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing have shared that stretching exercises, in particular, may be more effective at reducing the risk of preeclampsia than walking is for pregnant women who have already experienced the condition.  Movement also helps to keep the blood viscosity at normal and brings oxygen to the liver, thereby helping to reduce cardiovascular strain. 

  1. Hydration

Dehydration impacts blood pressure and pregnancy conditions, such as preeclampsia, by ultimately thickening the blood and making it harder for the heart to pump oxygen throughout the body.  Focusing on getting adequate hydration can go a long way in helping the circulatory system work as it should.  Consider consuming living water, cucumber juice, lemon water, coconut water, and raw fruits and veggies to maintain adequate hydration levels. 

  1. Supplements

Supplements can be a great tool to help our bodies function as they should.  Speak with your provider about pregnancy safe supplements such as zinc and vitamin c, to support wellness during pregnancy. Also consider vitamin D, 5mthf, vitamin B6, coq10, epa/dha, magnesium, and Epsom salt baths. 

****If you are pregnant, do not take supplements without your obstetrician’s approval. All supplements have side effects, and some may not be safe for women with certain conditions. 

Implementing some of the lifestyle factors above can be a powerful step for a wellness journey before and during pregnancy.  Although incorporating the considerations above may prove helpful, it’s also important to work with your midwife or OBGYN during this time.   

If you feel you are already in good health, remember that it is still very important to monitor your blood pressure and urine protein regularly during pregnancy. If your levels or readings become elevated, remain vigilant, as preeclampsia can quickly develop into a very dangerous, life-threatening condition. Always inform your doctor or midwife of any changes you detect, and continue to have regular check-ups.

If you are looking for additional support while trying to conceive, during pregnancy, or the postpartum period, check out our pregnancy support package

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