Nutrition in pregnancy—a no-brainer, right? Who would think it was so controversial? Disagreement over a healthy diet during pregnancy continues to rage, with one side saying that what a woman eats will have no effect on her pregnancy and the other saying it has an enormous impact. So what's a woman to eat?
The fact is that research has been done on this subject, but with the exception of folic acid, it stopped somewhere around the 1980s when the focus shifted to drugs as the answer to curing all ills. The research that was done was not widely accepted due to the fact that it could not include clinically controlled studies. It would not show common sense or ethics to starve a group of pregnant women in order to supply a control group. The researchers did the logical thing and used the women's previous diet and circumstances as the control. The results were amazing. Dr. Tom Brewer totally eradicated preeclampsia in specific populations where the former rates were upwards of 40 percent. He had the women eat a healthy, varied, well-balanced diet that included high quality foods, adequate protein and complex carbohydrates. He also had them drink water to thirst, salt to taste and avoid drugs. Unfortunately, the National Institute of Health refused to publish the results because he couldn't do a clinically controlled study.
So what's the problem with pregnancy nutrition? The standard medical community does not believe that women need to eat this way. Doctors keep saying that they don't know the cause of preeclampsia, but they are madly searching for a "magic pill" or single cause to shed some light on the mystery.
"Since such a common and lethal disease must have rational, scientific etiology or cause, theories other than maternal malnutrition in late pregnancy have proliferated, as private drug firms have stampeded in a frenzy to find the 'magic bullet" to cure or treat blindly the signs and symptoms of this still 'mysterious,' enigmatic, cryptic 'disease of antiquity.' So far all of these non-nutritional, drug-focused efforts have failed."
—Dr. Tom Brewer, The New Genetics in Global Maternal-Fetal Medicine/Perinatology, 2003
This attitude means that the majority of women receive no education on nutrition in pregnancy. Desperate treatments of preeclampsia, such as diuretics, elimination of salt intake and calorie and weight gain restriction, only exacerbate the problem by further reducing and restricting much-needed blood volume (called hypovolemia) and reducing the blood supply to the placenta and fetus. Women call Dr. Brewer daily with horror stories of eclampsia, premature babies, placental abruption and fetal growth restriction.
— Amy V. Haas
Excerpted from "Preventing Complications with Nutrition," Midwifery Today, Issue 67