5 Ways to Lower your Risk of PreeclampsiaLisanne Wellness Center
Preeclampsia is a high blood pressure condition that occurs only during pregnancy. It develops in women with previously normal blood pressure at 20 weeks or later and affects 5-8% of American pregnancies. Preeclampsia can develop into a very serious condition called eclampsia once brain function becomes affected by seizures or coma.
Sign and Symptoms of preeclampsia include:
- High blood pressure
- Protein in the urine
- Water retention (swelling, especially in the face and hands)
- Blurred vision
- Shortness of breath
- Bruising easily
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Pain in upper right abdomen
- Small volume of urine
Effects of Preeclampsia on the fetus
Because of the mother’s high blood pressure, blood supply to the growing fetus is reduced. This means that the fetus may not receive adequate oxygen and other nutrients it needs for proper growth and development. According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, fetal consequences of preeclampsia include:
- Low birth weight
- Still birth
- Hearing and/or visual impairment
- Cerebral palsy
- Nerve damage
Preeclampsia is most likely to occur during a woman’s first pregnancy. Risk factors include.
- Age (over 40 or under 18)
- Previous or family history of preeclampsia
- Multiple gestation (twins, triplets, etc.)
- Pre-existing high blood pressure
- Obesity (BMI ≥ 25)
Tips for Prevention
There is currently no sure way to prevent preeclampsia, so early detection and treatment is key. Some contributing factors to high blood pressure can be controlled and others can’t. Use the following tips to lower your risk of preeclampsia.
Maintain a Healthy Weight: Maintaining a healthy weight has an array of health benefits, including lowering your risk of preeclampsia. Many studies have shown a consistently strong association between a mother’s body mass index (BMI) and the risk of preeclampsia. For help managing your weight, schedule an individual nutrition consultation.
Regular Exercise: It is safe (and encouraged!) to exercise during pregnancy. During pregnancy, exercise can help you relieve aches and pains, maintain a healthy weight, and prevent excessive weight gain. One case-control study showed that brisk walking (pace of 3 mph or greater) reduced preeclampsia risk by 30-33%. Exercise also helps relieve stress, which can contribute to high blood pressure.
Eat a Healthy Diet: Focus on eating plenty of vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant-rich foods. To ensure you are getting the most nutrient value, eat whole fruits and vegetables including peels/skins, and eat a variety of colors. By “eating the rainbow” you will benefit from a variety of nutrients; bright orange veggies, like carrots, pack a lot of beta-carotene and vitamin C whereas dark leafy greens like spinach are full of fiber and folate.
Include potassium-rich foods to replenish your body’s electrolytes, especially if you suffer from morning sickness. Good sources of potassium include avocados, bananas, and sweet potatoes. Foods that are high in vitamins C and E (broccoli, red peppers, tomatoes, and almonds, to name a few) have great antioxidant properties.
Since Preeclampsia can cause high protein concentrations in the urine, it’s important to adjust your diet prior to becoming pregnant to lower the amount of protein you eat. Stick to a healthy range of about 15 to 25 percent of your total calories from protein.
To learn more about a how to maintain a healthy diet during pregnancy, we invite you to our Pregnancy Nutrition event, which we hold monthly.
Stay Hydrated: Make sure you drink plenty of water. Plain water is great, but you can also incorporate coconut water, soups, and water-laden veggies like cucumber, squash, and celery. Avoid sweetened beverages like fruit juices and soda, which may increase inflammation and insulin resistance and contribute to the risk of developing preeclampsia.
Regular Prenatal Visits: Keep up with regular prenatal doctor visits and have your blood pressure and urine monitored. Trust your instincts: if you notice any sudden changes in how you are feeling or have a gut feeling that something isn’t right, talk to your doctor about any potential warning signs right away.
To make sure you are doing all you can to minimize your risk of preeclampsia, contact Lisanne Wellness Center at 713-461-WELL (9355) to schedule an individual nutrition consultation. Sign up at our events page for the event ‘’Pregnancy Nutrition- What to eat and avoid for healthy pregnancy’’, a free informational webinar hosted by Lisanne Wellness Center.