Back when I announced the birth of our daughter Olive I made basically no mention of the birth. From reading the announcement you might have thought that the labor and delivery went normally, and perhaps that’s what I wanted you to think. Perhaps it was too hard to revisit the emotions of that day.
Now that it’s been 7 months (7 month! Really?) I feel like I should share my story in hopes that it will help another new (or seasoned) mom who is going through something similar.
My pregnancy was going really well. I was gaining a reasonable amount of weight, I was exercising, I was eating well (minus the ice cream every night) and I was generally feeling OK… and then I wasn’t. Preeclampsia is evil like that though; it can sneak up on you really quick!
My blood pressure had been high off and on so my midwives were monitoring it closely. There was no protein in my urine but I was starting to gain a lot of water weight. Somewhere between 30 and 34 weeks, my symptoms became concerning. My blood pressure was staying a bit high, I was gaining a lot of water weight, and I was generally just feeling yucky (which is what my midwife said was the symptom that was most revealing).
At some point, I don’t remember exactly, I had my blood drawn and my iron levels were elevated which indicated that my blood supply was not expanding as it should have.
My midwives advised me to start a high protein diet of 120 grams or more a day. They also advised me to salt my food to taste and drink electrolyte drinks like coconut water (but to stay away from Gatorade and other artificially flavored and colored drinks). This diet made a huge and immediate improvement in my health.
I 100% believe that the high protein diet protected us from a premature delivery. I believe that without the protein increase I would not have been able to fend off the Pre-E symptoms for an entire month as I did.
Whenever I started to feel yucky again I would drink some water or electrolyte drinks and eat a high protein snack and I would feel much better. You can read more about nutrition and how it can help in the prevention and reversal of Pre-E symptoms here.
On Thanksgiving Day one of my midwives, Kate, came to my house to check my blood pressure and it was high (we were monitoring it twice a week). I had also gained 4 lb for the second week in a row. She put me on modified bed rest and encouraged me to eat and rest all day (no problem!).
I should mention that my “plan” was to have a natural birth at the birth center. When I say, “plan” I mean if everything goes the way I want it to/normally, then a natural birth center birth is the plan. I know that there is no way to “plan” a birth just as there is no way to “plan” most things in life but I do think it’s important to have an idea of how you would like things to go so that if you do have to make a choice you don’t have to make it while in labor.
But as my symptoms got worse I became fearful that I would have to birth at the hospital.
By December 19th at 37 weeks I found myself in the hospital. They didn’t keep me there luckily but they were obviously concerned. They advised me to stay on bed rest but did not give any dietary directions. In fact the doctors had no idea about the benefits of the high protein diet for Pre-E! Kate gave the OB a quick summary of the benefits and said she would forward the research onto her. The OB asked me to do a 24-hour urine test that my midwives would give to me.
I just have to say: collecting your pee for 24 hours is not very fun, especially when you’re 9 months pregnant.
The urine test came back on Christmas Eve. Kate called me and told me that the protein in my urine was very high and that she consulted with an OB at the hospital and they thought I should go in. Bummer. She also told me to pack a bag and expect a baby. Double bummer.
I was really not excited about the possibility (guarantee?) of an induced labor. I was terrified of needing a cesarean and I knew that any intervention would increase the likelihood of needing one. I also knew that I clearly needed to be at the hospital for my safety and the baby’s. What a huge disappointment.
Looking back I can see that my diet was not as good as I thought it was. I did a good job of getting enough fruits and vegetables but I didn’t work very hard at getting enough protein and probably didn’t get enough calories in general. I don’t care what anyone says, it’s hard to eat so much extra food!
Read the rest of the story here.