Family Life

Baby No. 20: Focusing on a Healthy Diet

posted: 11/18/11
by: Michelle Duggar


Photo credit Chris Stein/Getty Images

My husband and I are grateful and excited and just anticipating a good healthy pregnancy for me and the baby. That's our prayer. So we're doing everything that we know is within our ability to do that, and we've sought out the counsel of many people who have dealt with high-risk pregnancies. There are many other moms that have been in my situation - I'm not the first one to have experienced preeclampsia by any stretch of the imagination, as I did with my 19th child, Josie. Other moms have ventured to have another baby after they've had preeclampsia.

It's not definitively known what causes preeclampsia, and it's kind of one of those crazy conditions of pregnancy that strikes about 10 to 15 percent of women. There are some categories of women who tend to have it more often (moms pregnant with multiples, pregnant teens and pregnant women over 40), but there are other women who fall outside of these categories.

There's a book that I read called Metabolic Toxemia of Late Pregnancy, by obstetrician Thomas H. Brewer. He specialized in preeclampsia patients, and so often he would find that the condition in pregnant women had to do with a lack of adequate nutrition. And I know that sounds crazy in America because you'd think Americans would have a great diet, but we don't - we really are lacking in a lot of things. Among other things, Brewer recommends a high protein intake for pregnant women, between 80 and 100 grams of healthy protein (lean meats, legumes, etc.) a day. Literally every time I open my mouth I'm putting protein in my mouth. And then the remainder of my food is pretty much green vegetables with salt to taste.

The book was very informative for me because I went through preeclampsia with Josie, and what a lot of people don't know is I actually had preeclampsia with my second pregnancy, the twins Jana and John David. Brewer's advice was so balanced and very wise -- it's not some crazy diet with hard-to-find foods. It's just your common stuff you get at your grocery store, like eggs, which have albumin.

I'm feeling great. I'm exercising regularly - I started an exercise program when I got my birthday elliptical last year September. I keep up with my hour on the elliptical, five to six times a week, and then try to make healthy eating choices and get plenty of rest when I can.

The high-risk pregnancy doctor I saw in Little Rock, where Josie was transferred when she was born premature, talked with Jim Bob and me after Josie was born, and I went back for a visit to him. He checked everything. He did a full blood workup -- you name it, they checked everything on me. And he said, "You're healthy, you're strong. You know how we doctors are. We always tell women over 40 if you're having babies you're high risk anyway." But he said that I didn't have any signs, or precursors, to preeclampsia that show up in blood work. But he said, of course my age, is a factor for complications. I've heard that since I was 36!

If I had listened to that and decided not to have children based on my age, there would be so many precious lives that wouldn't be here because of that. I definitely understand all of those factors involved, but at the same time we still embrace life. When God chooses to give us another gift, we are so grateful and welcoming to that gift that he's given us. And so we shall take care of this little one as best that we know how possible, and trust the results and the outcome to Him.

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