This article is from the General Pregnancy FAQ, by swnymph@FensEnde.com (Sabrina Cuddy) with numerous contributions by others.
From: Linda Franz <email@example.com>
The following information about pre-eclampsia (whose symptoms include
protein in the urine), is taken from information found in my ALACE
(formerly Informed Birth and Parenting) Childbirth Education manual.
Pre-eclampsia (also called toxemia and eclampsia and the newest
moniker, PIH, or pregnancy induced hypertension) can be a serious
complication of pregnancy, but often contradictory things are said
about it. Doctors still don't really know what causes this complication
of pregnancy characterized by extreme swelling of the limbs, protein in
the urine, and elevated blood pressure.
Dr. Tom Brewer, working very pragmatically with inner-city women in
Richmond, CA, found that by increasing their protein intake, he was able
to lower the toxemia rate from something like 17% to .5%. He then
tried to develop an explanation for why this was successful. His idea
is that metabolic toxemia of late pregnancy (MTLP) is the manifestation
of a liver malfunction caused by malnutrition. The increased blood
volume needed for a healthy pregnancy requires extra albumen, a protein
that also keeps water in circulation in the blood. Without an adequate
diet, the liver cannot make enough albumen and water leaks into the
tissues, the blood volume falls, and the placenta function decreases.
The woman appears puffy and has a sudden weight gain with this extra
fluid. Blood pressure rises to try to maintain adequate blood flow and
the woman may develop headaches, dizziness, or fainting. The kidneys
try to absorb fluid, and shut down completely if the blood volume is
critcally low. Protein appears in the urine because the tissues in
the body begin metabolizing themselves since the liver has been
overstressed in many of its functions, such as making protein. Some of
the protein that the tissues use when they break down to provide for
the woman'sprotein needs is excreted in the urine.
PREVENTATIVE TREATMENT, therefore, involves good nutrition counseling,
and insuring that pregnant women receive ADEQUATE PROTEIN (75-100
gms/day) and ESSENTIAL VITAMINS AND MINERALS FROM THEIR DIET. If
toxemia does develop, the pregnant mother should EAT A HIGH PROTEIN
DIET (120 gms a day), SALT HER FOOD TO TASTE, REMAIN ACTIVE, and take
antibiotics to reduce the load on her liver. In severe cases, she
should be given human serum albumen in the hospital.
Many of the symptoms of MTLP are also associated with other problems
in pregnancy and health, so a careful diagnosis should be done to
determine if a woman with these symptoms actually does have toxemia.
For more information, read "What Every Pregnant Woman Should Know:
The Truth About Diet and Drugs in Pregnancy" by Gail Brewer and Tom
Brewer, MD (NY: Random House).
I'm not sure if Brewer's work is being recognized by the medical
establishment, or not. Perhaps suggesting this book to your OB/midwife
would be helpful if You find the information in this book useful. Some
midwives have taken up the practical aspects of his work, and not only
prevent toxemia, but have seen beginning symptoms turn around
dramatically when they are caught early enough.
I can also e-mail to anyone who's interested a specific set of
recommendations for anyone noting one or more of the warning signs
of PIH. The regimen was developed by a midwife, who's seen
dramatic results with women who have followed it, often within