Saturday, December 29, 2012

Asked and Answered: Preeclampsia and Preemie Birth While on Magnesium Sulfate (with a little rant about why you shouldn't trust anyone who says that the Brewer's Diet will prevent or cure preeclampsia)!

Most of the search engine searches that bring people to this site are related to preeclampsia and giving birth on magnesium sulfate.  Below are a few of the search terms that have brought people here, and my responses (with the caveat that I have absolutely no medical training, and even if I did I wouldn't be giving people advice over the internets).  One good place to go for information about preeclampsia is the Preeclampsia Foundation site here, where they also have discussion forums where you can post questions.  The Preeclampsia and Related Conditions site here on BabyCenter can be a mixed bag in terms of advice, but it is generally a nice, supportive group of women.

what does magnesium sulfate feel like
I described my personal experience here.  Other women reported varied experiences.  Overall the first half hour tends to be rough, most people feel incredibly hot and incredibly nauseated.  How you feel after that initial dose of mag depends on how your body reacts, and probably whether or not you are receiving pain meds (I was given a lot of morphine, which was heavenly).  Common symptoms women report are muscle weakness, vision problems (because your eye muscles are so weak), balance problems, and mental confusion.  These issues should clear up really quickly once you go off the mag.

do you have to take magnesium for preeclampsia
If you have severe preeclampsia, the answer is probably yes.  If you have mild or borderline preeclampsia maybe not.  If you have concerns about doing a mag delivery, definitely have a serious conversation with your provider and make sure your concerns are heard.  Your medical team should be able to give you a good explanation for why they think mag is necessary.  The reality is that you may not get the delivery you want, but you always have the right to be well informed.

feeling weak after mag sulfate
It is totally normal to feel really weak while on mag sulfate.  Once you are off the mag, the effects should wear off pretty quickly.  If you are still feeling weak after you are no longer on mag it could be due to a number of factors:
do you have low platelets, did you lose blood during delivery, are you coming off extended bedrest, are you on pain meds, did you have an exhausting delivery, have you not had a good night's sleep in a long time, do you have symptoms of PPD, were you just very sick with preeclampsia?  Answer yes to any of these questions and that might be the source of your feelings of weakness.  In any case, you should mention it to your doctor to make sure it isn't something serious.

In my case, my immediate recovery from LB's birth was really fast, but I had lingering feelings of being weaker than normal/physically being not quite myself for a year after her birth.

magnesium bonding with baby
Well, feeling weak, loopy, and confused probably isn't the best circumstance for bonding with your baby.  If you just gave birth on mag you may be pretty sick, you may not have had the birth experience you wanted, your baby may be in the NICU, and you may feel like crap.  So if you don't feel like you are immediately bonded with your baby, that is pretty normal.  Just give it time, most women find that those feelings do come in the first days after delivery.

If a week or two after the birth, you still feel like you don't have a bond with your baby, or you are just generally feeling bad emotionally, definitely talk to your doctor or a loved one, you might be experiencing PPD.

magnesium cant see baby 24 hours
This is an interesting issue.  I posted this thread on BabyCenter asking how long women had to wait to see their babies after a mag delivery.  Among the women who had NICU babies, most waits were at least 24 hours.  I was able to go see LB about eight hours after I got out of recovery.  I don't know whether this was because I seem particularly stable (seems kind of unlikely because I had such a rough delivery and extensive surgery), or because I was in a "baby-friendly" hospital.  I suspect the latter.  I had to have an LD nurse with me the whole time I was in the NICU, so I assume hospital have issues of liability and staffing to work out.  As a person with no medical training, there may be issues of mag and safety of which I am not aware.  However, my gut feeling is that hospitals are not working hard enough to reunite moms and babies as quickly as possible after a mag delivery, and perhaps they are practicing some defensive medicine rather than taking seriously the emotional stress created for mothers who are separated from their newborns.  My advice:  1) try to have your baby at a baby-friendly hospital, 2) talk to your providers before the birth about when you will be able to see your baby, if you don't like the answer push them (and they maybe right, but I would want a better answer than "hospital policy"), 3) realize that after the birth you may not be up to advocating for yourself, so make sure you have a support person prepared to advocate on your behalf.

I think part of the reason that I have so few bad feelings about LB's birth is because I felt that my medical team respected my wishes to the best of their abilities, and really work to do their best for me and for LB.

books for preemies
I'm assuming that this search is for books about preemies.  I don't know if there are any kids books for former preemies (thanks to Amazon now I do know that there are such books here and here) and I don't plan to buy kids books about preemies for LB.  You can find some specialized baby books for preemies by doing a search for "preemie baby book" (one example here).  If you are looking for books about preemies, I've written reviews here, here, and here.  I've also reviewed the preemie documentary Little Man here.

backed potato and preeclampsia 
I've run into some Brewer's Diet advocates on the internets who strongly advise eating baked potatoes during pregnancy (INCLUDING THE SKIN) as part of a broad nutritional approach to preventing preeclampsia.  I've written about my thoughts on nutritional therapy for preeclampsia here.  The short answer: eat baked potatoes if you want them, I certainly did when I was pregnant, but don't expect them to prevent or cure preeclampsia.  The Brewer's diet as a means of preventing preeclampsia is absolute crap, and the people who promote it are at best deluded, and at worst dangerous.  To view some of the crazy associated with hardcore Brewer's Diet advocates, go to this thread on the Navel Gazing Midwife site and read the comments by Joy Jones. (As an aside, if a healthcare provider tell you they have a fail proof cure for a serious disease, but it doesn't work for some people because only that particular provider knows how to do it correctly, and if it didn't work for you then you did it wrong--chances are very high that that provider is a charlatan)

bradley method preeclampsia
I've not done the Bradley Method classes, so I can't say much about the program, but it seems to have a lot of fans.  My one issue with Bradley is that they not only promote the Brewer's Diet, but they also say in their promotional materials that the Brewer's diet prevents preeclampsia, which is not true. See above.

I hope this was helpful.  I'd love to get comments and/or questions (that I can't answer) from my preeclampsia readers.  We are family.

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