Using Magnesium Sulfate During Pregnancy – Benefits and Risks
Pregnancy is not a smooth ride for all women. Some pregnant women may experience certain complications such as preeclampsia or preterm labour, which may require immediate attention. Magnesium salt may be used to treat such conditions. It may help prolong labour by two days and can be used in the treatment of preeclampsia. But how does magnesium sulfate work and is it completely safe? Find out!
What is Magnesium Sulphate?
Magnesium sulphate is best defined as an inorganic salt. A more common name for it is Epsom salt. It is often used to cure stomach upsets, indigestion, and heartburn. All these problems occur due to excess stomach acids. Effectiveness of magnesium sulphate has been seen during pregnancy as it is used to treat different medical conditions at this time.
Uses of Magnesium Sulphate in Pregnancy
Magnesium sulphate can help provide relief from serious complications during pregnancy, labour and in preemies. Here are some ways in which it can help both the mother and child:
1. Helps in the Treatment of Preeclampsia
Some women who are pregnant can develop preeclampsia. This is where they experience high blood pressure and when tested, traces of protein can be found in their urine. When the condition becomes serious, women can suffer from seizures, which puts their baby at risk. Taking magnesium sulphate for preeclampsia can help in preventing the seizures, and any damage that may be caused to the baby as a result of it.
2. Helps With Labour
Though magnesium sulphate cannot actually stop babies from being born early, it can stall labour so that doctors have enough time to administer steroids. This helps a baby’s lungs to develop in cases where they are still not properly formed. This will help to increase the risk of survival at birth.
Magnesium sulphate tocolytic, like most others, is not always successful in slowing labour down, but it does help in most cases. This will depend upon how dilated the cervix is. If the magnesium sulphate works and labour is slowed down, the baby’s rate of survival goes up to 40%.
3. Helps Protect the Brain of Preemies
Premature babies have not had enough time inside the womb to develop. So, when they are born, they are far more delicate than the average newborn. Babies who are born before they have been in the womb for 32 weeks are prone to developing cerebral palsy. This is because the baby’s brain has not had time to fully develop.
Magnesium sulphate helps lower the chances of developing cerebral palsy. When magnesium sulphate has been administered to the mother with the expectation that birth will occur in 24 hours, it has been known to reduce the chance of cerebral palsy. Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which is caused when there is a lack of oxygenated blood flowing to the baby’s brain close to the time of birth, and other brain conditions can also be prevented by using magnesium sulphate.
Side Effects of Using Magnesium Sulphate During Pregnancy
The drug itself has been found to be safe for use on pregnant women. If there are any side effects, they are often due to incorrect preparation, careless monitoring of the patient, unfamiliarity with signs of toxicity and safe dosages, incorrect administration and a mixing up between oxytocin and magnesium sulphate. Medical staff who are careful and skilled with the use of magnesium sulphate are able to use it successfully. The following are some of the side effects that may be experienced:
Effects on the Mother
Here are some of the side effects that mothers may experience:
- Hot flashes
- Vomiting and nausea.
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty in labour, which may result in a C-section
- Delay in producing milk, sometimes up to ten days
- Respiratory depression
- Fluid in the lungs
- Excessive sleeping (hypersomnolence)
- Tightness in the chest
- Loss in reflexes
Effects on the Baby
Here are some side of magnesium sulphate on babies.
- Their bones may lack calcium.
- There may be a slight decrease in the heart rate of the foetus.
Who Should Not Take Magnesium Sulphate During Pregnancy?
While the benefits outweigh the risks, there are still some who should not take magnesium sulphate while pregnant. Women who suffer from a neuromuscular condition called myasthenia gravis or a heart condition should avoid any treatment that uses magnesium sulphate.
Magnesium sulphate is often used to prolong labour but it should not be taken without consulting a doctor. If you experience any complications during pregnancy or feel that you are going into early labour, do not self medicate, contact your doctor immediately.