Eclampsia is one of the serious pregnancy related complications that poses a life threatening situation for both the mother and child. Severe eclampsia is characterized by frequent seizures involving twitching of the face, protruding of the eye balls, tongue biting and foaming in the mouth and women may slip into a coma.
Other complications like heart failure, stroke and severe bleeding post delivery are not unlikely. Typically, women develop pre eclamptic conditions after the 20th week of pregnancy, which if undetected leads to eclampsia. Severe preeclamptic conditions or eclampsia often results in the birth of premature and underweight babies with a number of physiological deformities. Eclampsia can also develop in the postpartum stage.
Though the exact cause for pre- eclampsia is not yet clear, but statistics based researches have revealed that obesity, hypertension (chronic and gestational), abnormally high protein levels in the urine (proteinuria), genetic history of eclampsia, age (below 20 or above 40), multiple pregnancies and a pre-history of eclampsia are the main risk factors.
Ways to Prevent Eclampsia In Pregnancy
Eclampsia in pregnancy can be prevented only if the pre eclamptic conditions are detected at the earliest and proper treatments are followed strictly. You need to assess the risk factors of eclampsia properly with due professional consultation and adopt proactive measures.
Monitor Your Blood Pressure Levels
Blood pressure in some pregnant women may shoot up in the second and third trimester indicating preeclampsia. Abnormally high blood pressure prevents sufficient blood and oxygen flow to the fetus restricting its normal development. Prolonged high blood pressure in pregnancy is one of the vital reasons for premature delivery and stillbirths.
Chances of eclampsia are quite high in women with chronic hypertension. You need to monitor your blood pressure regularly during your prenatal check ups. A fortnightly blood pressure monitoring is recommended. You can use a blood pressure monitor at home. Keep yourself focused on maintaining the normal blood pressure levels throughout the term.
Go for Routine Urine Test
Abnormally high protein level in the urine (proteinuria) is one of the primary signs of preeclampsia. Women develop this condition in the second or third trimester of pregnancy.
Test the protein levels in your urine regularly. Though the only cure for proteinuria is to deliver the baby, but it can be managed to some extent by adopting right type of diet and taking sufficient rest. Proteinuria can be managed if the blood pressure remains under control.
Check your Body Weight
Obese and overweight women are at a high risk of eclampsia during pregnancy, and along with high blood pressure the risk steps up. Hypertensive pregnant women may notice abrupt gain in their body weight, a common indication of preeclampsia. Proteinuria can also add to your body weight due to water retention. Check your calorie intake. Drink plenty of water. Eat more fruits and vegetables and limit the intake of fats and sugars.
Opt for Specific Foods
Poor diet is often the underlying cause of eclampsia. Take enough Vitamin D enriched foods like egg, oily fish and foods fortified with this vitamin. This facilitates normal fetal growth lowering the risk of delivering underweight baby. Make sure that you have at least 75 grams of protein daily. Vegetarian sources of protein like whole grains, cereals, nuts and legumes are best for pregnant women. Opt for lean meat if you prefer a non-vegetarian source of protein.
Consume enough low fat dairy products and leafy greens to maintain a normal calcium and magnesium balance. Potassium enriched foods like banana, orange and grapefruit juice also help in lowering hypertension thereby preventing eclampsia in pregnancy. Colored fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, spinach, blueberry, pinto bean and red kidney beans are loaded in antioxidants which can prevent preeclampsia. You can opt for DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet with due professional consultation to lower your hypertension during pregnancy, which in turn will reduce the chances of eclampsia in the later stages.
Check your Salt Intake
Recent studies published by nih.gov clearly state that low sodium intake through common salt is not likely to prevent complications of eclampsia during pregnancy. Reports published in American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology concludes that excessive low sodium intake can restrict the normal intrauterine fetal growth. Women with chronic high blood pressure normally are habituated with restricted sodium intake.
Excessive sodium intake through processed and restaurant foods can shoot your blood pressure levels to dangerous levels in pregnancy. It is therefore advisable to consume restricted amount of salt with due consultation with the doctor. Sodium intake through homemade foods seldom crosses the recommended level. Make sure that you meet the daily potassium requirement from your diet. Keep it in your mind “Too much of everything is bad”.
Take Sufficient Rest
Hypertensive women are susceptible to eclampsia in pregnancy. Sufficient rest and long hours of sound sleep are recommended to prevent this potentially dangerous complication during delivery. The doctor may advise total bed rest at home depending upon the severity of the symptoms of preeclampsia.
According to medicineworld.org, the patient should lie on her left side for at least 2 hours at noon after the 20th week of pregnancy to facilitate better blood circulation to the fetus. In some cases, hospitalization may be suggested for round the clock monitoring of the fetal heart rate and the condition of the mother. The doctor may prescribe sedatives for hypertensive pregnant women to promote sound sleep.
Follow the Medications
You need to follow the prescribed medications for hypertension strictly to prevent preeclampsia in pregnancy. Doctors prescribe alternative blood pressure lowering medications during pregnancy. Maintaining a normal blood pressure level throughout the term reduces the risk of eclampsia appreciably enabling a safe child delivery for chronic hypertensive women. You should not neglect taking prescribed calcium supplements and other prenatal vitamins, essential for the growing fetus and yourself.
Frequent Ultrasound Tests May be Needed
Prolonged hypertension and proteinuriua in pregnancy often restricts the normal development of the fetus. You may need frequent ultrasound tests to monitor the gradual fetal growth. This is very essential to minimize the chances of certain physiological abnormalities of the fetus that can arise due to preeclamptic conditions.
Your doctor will be able to monitor the fetal heart rate and its overall growth and decide the pregnancy term. In case of severe preeclamptic symptoms, doctors may opt for induced labor or caesarean section delivery prior to the due date to save both the mother and child.