overcoming HELLP syndrome.

Now that we are nearly 7 months post partum I thought I could manage sitting for a moment to share about the journey to a healthy pregnancy after HELLP syndrome. I am NOT a medical professional, nor do I offer tried and true medical advice. The following is my experience alone.

  1. Pray to Jesus. I know – not your standard American health advice. But He made you. He is for you. He did, after all, give his life for you.
  2. Know where your hope is found. I found it repeatedly necessary to reevaluate my focus, to know that my hope is in God and his goodness for me and not any diet, exercise program, supplement or herb.
  3. Seek knowledge and wisdom. Act accordingly. God designed our bodies to function a certain way, yet not every person’s body responds the same way to the same foods, supplements, or stress levels. I learned the hard way that I (quite unfortunately) just can’t consume row after row of scotcheroos and get off scot-free. You can’t care well for your body if you don’t know how it works, so find out.

Let’s talk practically about diet, exercise, supplements and herbs.

But first, the back story. A few months after Whitterboy was born, my gramps became super ill and passed away within just a few short weeks. Those were extremely high stress weeks, flinging my already weak body into an extreme flareup. I had suffered from ulcerative proctitis for many years on and off prior to becoming pregnant and this flareup came on blazing to the tune of bloody diarrhea and a whole lot of mucus lasting over two months. I was anemic, incredibly thin, and fatigued.   My husband came across a diet catered specifically to combat ulcerative colitis and thus began hours upon hours of research and a complete lifestyle overhaul. I learned the great impact teeny tiny gut flora have on our health and how to go about getting rid of harmful bacteria (SIBO) and fostering the colonization of the helpful. Since putting into practice what we learned, I haven’t had a flareup in over 3 years, which also, in my opinion, led to a happy healthy pregnancy and birth.

*Diet. What goes in your mouth effects your whole body. Diet is so extremely important to overall health. While it would be nice to live off of Cheetos and fudge, we (I) just can’t consume high quantities of those foods (and the like) daily and expect to just be fine. Eventually imbalance creeps in resulting in disorder and disease.  –  I understand that this side of heaven there will always be imbalance and disease. Even the most healthy of bodies will still die. O how I look forward to the day this broken world will pass away and Jesus will make everything brand shiny and new – including this warn out body of mine. But until then, let’s make the most of the one body you have by taking good care of it and feeding it nutrient dense foods.  –  I began the healing process by following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and transitioned to more of a paleo diet after a year or so of healing. The Brewer’s Diet was recommended to me by another HELLP overcoming mama. I followed it to the best of my ability while remaining grain-free to avoid any potential gut issues. Follow the links for more specific details. I also sought the counsel of Melanie at Food4Thought who I found through my midwife. If this is all you’ll read, the primary nutrient stressed is protein. I made a goal of consuming 100 grams of protein every day. From a grain-free protein shake (here and here) and eggs topped with homemade yogurt for breakfast, to cheese, nuts and beef sticks for snacks and a hearty portion of meat for dinner, consuming THAT much protein didn’t seem so tricky.

*Exercise. So I could use some pants kicking in this category. To be honest, I didn’t follow any major exercise program during my pregnancy; however, I DID make a point to walk everyday and I benefited a great deal from doing a select few YOGA poses every morning and evening as well as squatting for a few minutes multiple times a day (both for exercise as well as just hangin out in a deep squat).

*Supplements. (because sometimes you need a boost.) Below are the supplements I used with links included.

*Herbs. Aside from a colorful diet and high protein intake, herbs, in my opinion, contributed most to my overall wellbeing. Most of the herbs I’ll reference I consumed in the form of tea. A LOT of tea. I would steep and drink at least a quart per day of the following.

alfalfa-leaf

Alfalfa leaf. Alfalfa leaf is believed to contain essential vitamins including the entire spectrum of B-vitamins, A, D, E and K. It is also believed to be a source of iron, niacin, biotin, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium.

burdock-root

Burdock Root. “Burdock root has been valued across continents for thousands of years for its ability to purify blood and cool internal heat. Internally and externally, it has potent anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects on the human body. Recent studies also show that burdock contains phenolic acids, quercetin and luteolin, which are all powerful, health-promoting antioxidants.” draxe.com

dandelion-root

Dandelion Root. “Dandelion root has a natural diuretic effect, allowing your liver to more quickly eliminate toxins. It also helps strengthen the immune system, balance blood sugar levels, relieve heartburn and soothe digestive issues.” – drake.com

milk-thistle

Milk Thistle. “Milk thistle is an herb that’s been used for thousands of years to support liver, kidney, and gall bladder health. It contains the flavonoid silymarin, which is thought to be responsible for many of its beneficial effects, including liver protection and antioxidant, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory properties.” – Mercola

nettle-leaf-tea-organic-1210

Nettle Leaf. Nettle leaf (also known as stinging nettles) is an herb commonly found in pregnancy teas and recommended by many herbalists and midwives. “It’s a fabulous source of vitamins and minerals, including iron, vitamins A, C and K, and potassium,” says Hirota.” – fitpregnancy.com

oatstraw

Oatstraw leaf. Oatstraw is highly nutritive, containing minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamins, and a variety of other constituents which deeply nourish the entire body and are especially soothing to the nervous system. This gentle restorative herb is for those that are cold, depleted, tired, and have “frayed nerves”3,10,12 or for the type of person who drinks too much coffee and is chronically burnt out. 13 It is also helpful for soothing and nourishing inflammatory skin conditions, building up strength in degenerative wasting conditions, and for enhancing the mood. – mountainroseherbs.com

red-raspberry-leaf

Red Raspberry Leaf. “Red raspberry leaf tea comes from the leaves of the red raspberry plant. This herbal tea has been used for centuries to support respiratory, digestive and uterine health, particularly during pregnancy and childbearing years. While usually known as a female herb, red raspberry leaf tea can also help support the prostrate and various stomach ailments in children.” – mamanatural.com

Not pictured that I also used is fennel seed and red clover leaf. I also added Mother wort to the mix POST delivery to help with uterine contracting according to the sweet gal at our local herb shop.

I’m sure I missed noting a few things. In short, eating well, moving your body, and gaining knowledge about how your body functions best is only going to help overcome HELLP. Do the research for yourself. May this journey to a healthy happy pregnancy and birth be filled with so many good things for you mama!

 

 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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