One of the main reasons that women are so closely monitored in late pregnancy is not to head off pre term labor, but to watch for signs of pre-eclampsia, or, Metabolic Toxemia of Late Pregnancy.
Toxemia is a blanket diagnosis that has evolved into the newer term: Pregnancy Induced Hypertension, or PIH, and stems from poor blood volume expansion in the body of the mother. Obstetrician Dr. Tom Brewer spent years researching the cause of toxemia and discovered that the cause of this poor blood volume was poor prenatal nutrition. In 1999, he officially sanctioned the Brewer Diet to prevent toxemia.
What are the signs of Toxemia?
- Sudden rise in blood pressure
- excessive weight gain
- edema (swelling)
- protein in the urine
- severe headaches
- visual disturbances
- upper right quadrant abdominal pain
What damage can Toxemia do?
If left untreated and unchecked, toxemia can lead to convulsions (much like an epileptic seizure) and can lead to coma and even death of both mother and baby. Treatment of mild toxemia may include increased monitoring and bed-rest, and can increase chances of needing medications to lower the blood pressure, pre-term inductions and even emergency c-sections.
Wouldn't it be easier to just avoid toxemia in the first place?
Why, yes! It would! And, thanks to the research of the late Dr. Brewer we have a diet that has proven to lower the rate of toxemia dramatically.
The downside? The diet requires a pregnant woman to eat A LOT of food. Here is a basic breakdown of the diet. More details can be found on the website http://www.blueribbonbaby.org.
- Dairy products - 4 servings daily
- Eggs - two daily (whole, prepared in any way you like)
- Protein sources - eight 1-ounce servings daily
- Vegetables - 2 servings of green leafy vegetables daily
- Fruits - 2 vitamin C sources daily
- WHOLE grains - 4 or more daily (think rice, oatmeal, etc NOT bread, crackers, etc)
- Fats and oils - 3 servings daily (think omega-3)
- Vitamin A source - 5 weekly - yellow or orange fruits and vegetables
- Whole baked potato - 3 weekly
- Drink water to thirst
- Salt food to taste
So the basic tenets are: 80-100 grams of protein daily, no limitations of sodium and consuming between 2300-2600 calories a day.
And, while it is a lot of food, it is exactly what your body needs to support a rapidly growing placenta which supports a rapidly growing baby!
I know that for me, I was much happier to consume the Bewer diet of whole foods than to suffer under an induction due to PIH.
It is important to note that the Brewer diet is only a diet for pregnant women. It is designed specifically to support a growing placenta. There is no benefit to following this diet when trying to conceive or during breastfeeding.
So, Chime in! Have you been told to follow the Brewer Diet? Have you heard of it? Have you had experience with toxemia? We'd love to hear from you!