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Pregnancy Complications

Hypertensive Disorders ~ PIH, Preeclampsia, Eclampsia, HELLP Syndrome

Integrative Treatment Options For Pre-eclampsia

If you have a mild case of pre-eclampsia, your health care provider may recommend that you rest in bed. You should lie on your left side, to prevent the weight of your uterus from pressing against important blood vessels. You should drink a lot of water to help you urinate and get rid of excess fluids. Your provider will want to monitor your blood pressure and urine every couple of days.

If your pregnancy is far along (28 weeks or more) and you have severe pre-eclampsia, your provider may admit you to the hospital, where you will receive drugs to induce labor or undergo a Cesarean section.

Your practitioner may prescribe the following drugs, which are given intravenously . . .

  • Magnesium sulfate or hydralazine to reduce your blood pressure
  • Calcium gluconate if your blood pressure falls too low
  • Furosemide to encourage you to urinate more
Complementary and Alternative Therapies

If you have pre-eclampsia, you should be under the care of an obstetrician. Complementary and alternative therapies can be used with medical treatment. Some of the most common ones are described below.

Nutrition

  • Omega-3 oils (1,000 mg three times a day) are highly beneficial in pregnancy, and help reduce swelling.
  • Increasing protein intake may help minimize pre-eclampsia.
  • Magnesium (200 mg two to three times per day) helps reduce high blood pressure.
Herbs

Herbs are generally a safe way to strengthen and tone the body's systems. As with any therapy, it is important to determine a diagnosis before pursuing treatment. Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, teas should be made with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day. Tinctures may be used singly or in combination as noted.

Herbs that can be used to treat mild hypertension in pregnancy include the following: Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata), hawthorn berries (Crataegus oxyanthoides), cramp bark (Viburnum opulus), milk thistle (Silybum marianum), and Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata). Use equal parts of each in a tincture, 20 drops three to four times a day.

Acupuncture

May be helpful in lowering blood pressure and generally increasing circulation.

Following Up

Your health care provider will monitor you carefully for the first few days after you have delivered your child. He or she will keep you in the hospital for several days to several weeks after you have delivered your baby, depending on the severity of the pre-eclampsia. You should have checkups at least every two weeks for the first several months after leaving the hospital.

Special Considerations

If you wear rings, remove them as soon as you start having symptoms. Swollen fingers can make it difficult (or even impossible) to remove rings, and they may begin to cut off circulation in your fingers.

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The symptoms of pre-eclampsia can appear gradually and suddenly get worse. See your health care provider regularly for checkups during your pregnancy, which you should do regardless of your risk of pre-eclampsia. He or she can recognize the early signs of pre-eclampsia and get treatment for you immediately.

Excerpt from Integrative Medicine Access

Copyright © 1999 Integrative Medicine Communications. Used with permission. Posted 4/00

This document contains information relating to general principles of medical care that should not in any event be construed as specific instructions for individual patients. The reader is advised to check product information (including package inserts) for changes and new information regarding dosage, precautions, and contraindications before administering any drug. No claim or endorsements are made for any drug or compound currently in investigative use. No responsibility is assumed by the publisher for any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise, or from any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions, or ideas contained in any material herein.

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