Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Magnesium Sulfate SUCKS

Magnesium sulfate is sometimes given through an IV to pregnant women dealing with severe preeclampsia. Its purpose is to prevent seizures and strokes that are a side effect of preeclampsia and high blood pressure. It is an important, necessary thing; especially when you're going to be in the hospital for an extended time trying to give your baby a little more time to "cook."

Right before Lady Bug was born.
But the side effects are from hell, and seem pretty unfair to do to a woman who has already had a very difficult pregnancy. Common side effects include:
  • Muscle weakness and lack of energy
  • Blurry vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flushing
  • Stuffy nose
Or in my case, ALL THE ABOVE.

A headache that Tylenol, the only thing they'll let you take, barley helps. Vomiting everything you try to take in; even water. Vomiting so violently that you pee yourself a little bit (remember, you're pregnant) every time you heave. And you're too sick, weak, and dizzy to make it to the bathroom, so you have to have a nurse wipe you off. Another side effect that should be included is "loss of any dignity or modesty." I'm not sure if my speech was slurred, but I couldn't focus my eyes on anything and I couldn't hold thoughts in my head for very long. I couldn't read! "Flushing" really mean "feel like you have a fever that never goes away." "Stuffy nose" means "can't breath through your nose," which means breathing through your mouth, which is dry because you're vomiting and that just makes it dryer. Oh, and impossible to sleep deeply, even though you're exhausted and doze off a lot. Another symptom on not on the list is that it burns in your veins of the arm the IV is in.

It was in this horrible state that my doctor first told me that he wanted me to wait a week before delivering my baby. When you're in that much physical hell, dark thoughts come. Thoughts like it doesn't seem fair that you can kill your baby through legal abortion, but you can't decided for yourself when a viable baby should come out. (I am against abortion except when the mother will die otherwise.)

Thankfully your body does start to adjust. After a day and a half I could hold down fluids. After two days my headache diminished. After 4 days I could see, read, and think, though nothing complicated or long. Unfortunately you have to stay on it for 24 hours (or more!) after you have your baby. This is unfortunate because your body has to readjust and the horrible process starts all over again. Also, the magnesium does get into the baby's system and stays in it for a while afterwards and that can cause some minor issues that may delay your baby coming home right away.

I really wish someone had warned me about this stuff. I don't know what I would have done differently, but at least I could have been emotionally prepared for that hell. Principal Daddy was as supportive as could possibly be, and through trial and error, and the help of the experienced nurses, we discovered what helped with some of the symptoms.

For the burning in your arm from the meds, use hot pads to ease the pain. At my hospital they used the small packs that you start a chemical reaction in that last for just a little while. I used up so many of those that they brought out a water pad that plunged in and constantly heated.

For the "flushing," ask for a fan. A big one. And a cold washcloth with someone to refresh when it warms up.

For the headache, keep on top of the Tylenol. At my hospital I had to request the Tylenol, they didn't automatically give it to me. Make this the job of your significant other who is there in the hospital with you for the first few days. The cold washcloth also helps the headache. I found that on the back of my neck or over my eyes were the best spots for it.

For the stuffy nose, ask for a humidifier. At my hospital humidifiers actually have to be prescribed by the doctor, so ask as soon as you think of it.

For the nausea and vomiting, ask for IV phenergan instead of the pill form. I can't remember if they gave it to me at the beginning or not, but it did help near the end.

For everything else, sleep as much as possible.

If you are the significant other of the person on magnisum, here are some tips:
  1. Don't take anything they say while on magnisum sulfate personally.
  2. Do not expect them to remember anything said to them. Keep on top of what is going on, be the one to really listen to the doctor. This also applies to any issues with your baby.
  3. Intervene and don't let visitors or callers take too much time. Yes, it's very nice they took the time but when you're that miserable and fuzzy brained you don't have much stamina for answering or talking to other people. Answer all the questions about your significant other's condition and baby's condition.
  4. See if your hospital offers massages and see if you can get her signed up. 
  5. Never leave. (Just kidding.) Take care of your needs so that you're not a cranky, stressed mess who's not good for anything.
  6. Pray (if you believe) and if your church does it, see about getting anointed.
Do you have other tips that can help? Comment and share!


  1. :(

    I was thinking about you the other day because I finally watched season 3 of Downtown Abbey. Preeclampsia is scary.

  2. I cried so hard during that scene; and I read spoilers so I even knew it was going to happen! I am so grateful I was born at a time and place where preeclampsia is no longer a death sentence. And I am so grateful for my three miracles. <3


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