Brewer Diet?

Are you pregnant again after having preeclampsia once already in a previous pregnancy? Post your thoughts/concerns here - there are others who share your feelings. This is also the home of our Bedrest Buddies Support group.
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Re : Brewer Diet?

Postby taras mom » Sun Sep 21, 2003 04:27 am

quote:Originally posted by sarahedgcomb

Sample menu plan - 3,300 calories. . . .

It doesn't sound that over the top to me. Doesn't sound like too much food to me either. Maybe I eat more than other women on this chat board, I don't know. I'm not overweight though, and I haven't gained much since I've been pregnant - 8 weeks now.

I suspect most women would gain too much extra weight on this diet; I know I would! What does Brewer recommend (if anything) for women with lower metabolisms?

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Re : Brewer Diet?

Postby sarahedgcomb » Tue Sep 02, 2003 01:00 am

Hi Joni,

Thanks for your support on my decision to follow the Brewer Diet. As you may have read, I did have a miscarriage when I was 9 weeks along. However, I do plan on following aspects of the Brewer Diet the next time around.

Like I had previously posted, I know in my first pregnancy, I did not eat the way I should have. I often skipped meals, I wasn't hungry, I'd snack and eat healthy foods when I did eat, but I didn't eat enough. I had actually lost weight in the whole pregnancy. After I gave birth, I weighed less than I did when I got pregnant - and I'm not overweight.

I've learned that preeclampsia is really just an umbrella term for a multi-system, multi-organ disorder that varies from woman to woman. What might have caused my bout with preeclampsia and my symptoms can be totally different for another woman. I have read though most of the postings and stories on this site and there are lots of women who have lost babies and lots of women who have serious medical problems, but who are still brave enough to try again against some incredible odds. I now realize that when they are told that they are to blame because of their diet, it's very offensive. In my case, I don't take offense, because in my case,(and I don't have any underlying medical condition), I think my diet very well may have caused my preeclampsia.

I wish that Dr. Brewer had a better reputation and relationship with the Preeclampsia Foundation. It makes me feel disappointed to hear that he's basically harassed the organization - an organization that's doing it's best to fund research, raise awareness of a dangerous and often lingering disease of women and babies and help women with symptoms who are not yet diagnosed. It doesn't help his cause to be so caustic toward this group of women who are just here to help other women. Having said that, I do feel that his nutritional views are basically sound. I've read other pregnancy books by more "reputable" authors like Dr. Sears and in their chapter on nutrition, they call for pregnant women to increase their calories and increase their protien intake to 100 grams - that's exactly what Dr. Brewer calls for too.

I don't want to beat a dead horse... that's kind of what I feel like I'm doing now. I respect the other women on this site and what they've been through. I also respect the doctors who are working with the foundation and working hard to find a cause and treatment for this disease. We need to work together and not point fingers or aruge about what we did or didn't do during our pregnancy to "cause" preeclampsia, when probably in 99% of the cases nothing we did or didn't do caused preeclampsia to develop. I hope in the future there will be a "cure" or some kind of preeclampsia prevention that we can follow, maybe it will be a combination of nutritional and diagnostic medical care, who knows. I am glad that the Preeclampsia Foundation is here though, now, to provide support and awareness for women and the medical community.


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Re : Brewer Diet?

Postby kim » Mon Sep 01, 2003 09:01 pm

This is what the Preeclampsia Foundation is for. To educate those who come in contact with possible preeclampsia situations. I pray to God that this women doesn't come into contact with a pre-e woman. It makes my blood boil to hear someone condescend others who were near death and either lost babies or have babies with problems. I would hope that a "childbirth educator, doula and midwife," would certainly have enough compassion AND experience to know that eating a few nuts and berries isn't going to change everything. I am also seriously concerned that their our other's out there with this sort of education.

Edited to include that I had hyperemesis for my entire 36 weeks of being pregnant... Hardly ate more than a grilled cheese sandwich a day, and at 36 weeks, gave birth to a healthy 7lb 1oz baby girl. Didn't take a single vitamin either..... Hmmmm

Kim Schwintz
Texas Chapter

Ainsley Kathryn 11/26/02-36 Weeks Preeclampsia

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Re : Brewer Diet?

Postby annegarrett » Mon Sep 01, 2003 08:35 pm


I appreciate your weighing in, however I am troubled that the tone on this forum strikes you as condescending. I imagine some of us are--we have very strong opinions--however I searched through this thread with great care and found no one saying that she advocated ignoring the importance of diet--in fact--I found numerous citations of women saying how important it was and that that was NOT the issue.

I appreciate you feel Sarah needed support and defending. We are all adults here and I was very impressed with how Sarah handled some very vigourous debate. She was tactful, thoughtful and made an effort to be responsive to the individual differences raised. I think she handled herself admirably and even rose above some more heated comments when required.

Saying that the March of Dimes says that "Low birth weight is the cause of the greatest number of deaths in the first year of life and it the major cause of disability in childhood," does not equal Dr. Brewer being right. I can ASSURE you that the March of Dimes truly does not support the Brewer Diet. I know--I just recently met with their Assistant Medical Director. Nonetheless, it doesn't mean he is wrong.

It does not say that LBW is directly caused by a woman failing to eat the Brewer diet--eat 3300 calories a day and potentially dangerous levels of protein, it does not unfairly and unkindly enter a forum of survivors of a devastating disease--a large percentage of whom (25%) have lost their babies--and flatly say that the women who had this had a direct hand in it. I am appalled that someone with your professional background would suggest that our women are "abdicat(ing) themselves from their participation in their wellbeing and in their births."

I am sure the fact that you haven't had much experience with preeclampsia is largely to due with your good care, your experience with childbirth and your caring nature. I can't imagine you would look a client in the eye and tell her that she lost her baby because she abdicated herself from participation in her wellbeing. Tell that to this woman:

Shame on you.

The fact also is that people INSIDE the Brewer group have admitted that he is not entirely lucid. I for one am quite uncomfortable advising women to take medical advice from a man who does not seem to be entirely "all there". I have, in my office, over 300 postcards and letters from this doctor, with imaginary names and return addresses on the envelope, written in several different colored pens, covering every white corner of the paper, illegible script, with insults like "Nazi" and accusations of murdering babies and women, and bizarre ramblings that IF you can read them don't even make sense.

Our organization cannot--in good conscience--endorse the work that has not been proven scientifically. IF you would have read our forum--you will see we don't recommend Aspirin, Heparin, Calcium, Antihypertensives, or even BEDREST. WE don't endorse things that are still open to debate. There is no question that his diet clearly falls in that camp. The fact is that Dr. Brewer's Diet has been studied and has not really been demonstrated to be successful. DESPITE this--I have on several occasions here said we don't know--and that women should, if they want, and with the guidance of their health care professionals, give it a try. We just heard of a woman who had HELLP last time and who had a very safe waterbirth at home with a 9# baby after following the Brewer diet. You will not find me saying he is right or wrong--we are just saying we don't endorse it.

There is no question (if you will see--my very last post was about the importance of a proper diet and losing excess weight prior to conception) that we strongly feel that a healthy diet is critical.

And for the record--yes--I am quite aware of the Stewart book and other excellent books (IMO)--including Adelle Davis, Diet for a Small Planet, etc...because in fact, I am extremely health conscious and at the time was a vegan. Funny though--that this did not prevent me from getting preeclampsia three times. Ironic given that I was in hypno-birthing classes and had an excellent midwife whom I loved and who really helped me immensely. Sad really because, unlike my best friend who delivered four babies in the tub at home--I was in the hospital having acute renal failure because my MIDWIFE realized I needed to get to the hospital. She would be the first person to tell you that I take great care with my diet, I drink filtered water, I wake every morning to a meditation tape (no Laura, not whales singing...though likely I am the sort who would own that [;)]), I limit tv, violence, read to my children, recycle, compost, attend church, love my neighbor, eat organic, drink in moderation, and juice religiously.

We are not a bunch of techno-freaks who think a pill or a test is the cure. We are seeking answers in a safe and protected forum--one that is meant to be for membership to survivors. MY job is to make sure that all members here exchange information in a compassionate and thoughtful manner. I would like to think that this forum was a place where people can use their commonsense and pick and choose from good advice from people who recognize that women come here with a variety of experiences and traumas--and who sensitively and responsibly share their own experiences. This is a forum for preeclampsia survivors--not for people who are pushing an agenda--we won't allow doctors to push their research here (even doctors on our own medical board) and we won't allow salesmen to sell Juice products...we exchange information based on what happened to us.
Unless you personally have had preeclampsia or DO have preeclampsia, you are on the wrong board.

If you had ever had preeclampsia--I think you would have read the posts with more care and certainly more compassion.


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Re : Brewer Diet?

Postby deerhart » Mon Sep 01, 2003 04:07 pm

NM it's not even worth it.

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Re : Brewer Diet?

Postby ileana » Mon Sep 01, 2003 01:36 pm

Unfortunately Joni, Sarah had a miscarriage a few weeks into her pregnancy... This has definitely nothing to do with her diet or her care. It just happens.

Lots of us lost our babies. Some of us had babies with very low weight. I assure you that we deeply care about these babies and that we would have done anything to keep them alive and well. We are committed to have a great diet. We all think diet is extremmely important. We believe in good nutrition. Unfortunately preeclampsia happens. It happens despite the diet or the midwife care.

Don't talk to us about natural childbirth and homebirth! We will advocate for skilled medical assisted pregnancies, with deliveries in the hospital. We were close to death. Some of us thought about a home birth. Lots of us wanted a natural birth. I seriously considered hiring a doula to help with my birth. We all wish we lived in a world where your 5 rules were possible for everyone. This world is not one of those.

As a midwife educator, doula and midwife, you should learn a little more about preeclampsia. You can start on this site. Start with the stories.

Ileana 33
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Re : Brewer Diet?

Postby joni » Mon Sep 01, 2003 01:06 pm

Dear Sarah,
I came across your postings on this forum in a very circuitous way. I was simply using a google search to look for a version of Dr Brewer's
diet which someone had told me was available for vegans. As a professional caregiver I received a call from a vegetarian mom seeking counsel to improve her eating. I got caught up in the exchange of mails on this subject and was aghast at the condescending treatment you received. To that end, I actually signed up so that I would have access to your profile and could write to tell you!

I have been a childbirth educator, doula and midwife for 20 years and thankfully NEVER run into preeclampsia which frankly makes my track
record better than your list mates! Grin. I suspect none of them are aware of a book entitled "The Five Standards for Safe Childbearing" by
David Stewart Phd. The five include; good nutrition, skillful midwifery, natural childbirth, homebirth, and breastfeeding.

Many of those components may not align with your personal belief system about birth (nor am I going to proselytize about them)
but I would like to substantiate the belief that you have expressed and that is that nutrition certainly can positively influence birth outcomes!

I sense as did you that many of these woman abdicated themselves from their participation in their wellbeing and in their births.
A caregiver can't safeguard the mom from her own nutritional errors. He/she can guide her, make suggestions, but ultimately it is the mom who controls
what she ingests and what her baby receives.
Without good nutrition the effectiveness of all the other standards are significantly compromised. I so appreciate the quote attributed to Mayer Eisenstein,
"If I had my choice between 1000 well nourished women giving unattended homebirth versus 1000 malnourished women delivered by the utmost specialist,
for healthier babies I would place my money on the 1000 unattended women who ate right."

I think the fact that you acknowlege your nutritional failings last time around is an incredibly brave thing to do. To decide to improve upon it so that it won't
be a factor this time around is what growing up is all about!! Bad diets are linked to stillborn babies, low birth weight babies, premature babies, and
infection prone babies. Your list mates can decry this fact all that they want and deny personal responsibilty too for that matter but the fact remains is that
a better nourished mom doesn't have to feel guilty about her lousy habits IF she were to encounter any of above problems in her baby and a poorly nourished
mom can't absolve herself quite so easily!

If they don't like Dr Brewer as their source of info they can try the March of Dimes instead.
"Low birth weight is the cause of the greatest number of deaths in the first year of life and it the major cause of disability in childhood."
Do I know how many of those are directly attributable to poor maternal nutrition? No. Do I believe that many could have been averted by better nutrition? Definitely.
If members of the forum don't agree they can carry on with whatever eating habits they used last time but my caution would be to ask, "did they serve you well then?"

It seems that some of your list mates believe that testing is the only way to health. Sorry but NO amount of prenatal blood sampling, urine testing, ultrasonagraphy,
amniocentesis, or other physical evaluations can substitute for good eating. Work in tandem with it? Yes, Support it? Yes. But not replace it.
These techniques and devices are DIAGNOSTIC. They do not heal, they do not treat, they do not nourish and they do not prevent the problems.

Early detection can be a God send. But it doesn not serve as prevention. I don't say it is too late to correct but it is too late to prevent if the analysis comes back
with results saying the mother is lacking x,y or z

As many of the list mates have so intimately experienced may not be too late for intravenous injections, bed rest, cesarean surgery, neonatal intensive care.
But why complacently just wait and see how the pregnancy develops rather than taking the initiative by eating better? No amount of technology can make up for
the loss of nutrients to a malnourished mother and baby in pregnancy.

I hope you receive care from a professional who will honor and respect your desire to make positive change in your life. Your babies are fortunate to have an advocate
like you.

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Re : Brewer Diet?

Postby kim » Fri Aug 01, 2003 10:07 pm

I agree with Anne and feel that all women should just "be" healthy-- and what it takes to get there is different for every person...

Secondly, I think maybe some of the strong feelings from some of the other women on this board may come from this. A lot of us (Laura, I know for sure) have also suffered from a debilitating pregnancy condition called hyperemesis gravidarum. For me, I was unable to eat anything remotely healthy and relied on medications, IV's and tube feedings to make it through the pregnancy. But, in the end, I delivered a gigantic for gestational age baby.

That said, it's really hard for those of us who suffer from hg to see this man say that we are in control of the whole situation. I, personally, vomited 20x times a day at my worst and the only thing I could hold down were grilled cheese sandwiches and soda. I lost 20 pounds in the first trimester...

Anyway, I think most of us here are all for healthy eating (I know I am, especially after my hg experience), but for me, this guy just strikes a tender nerve, since my whole pregnancy revolved around lack of nutrition, etc.. and I had no control over it.

It sounds like you are informed and have good doctors, which is the most important way to protect your baby.
Take Care,

Ainsley Kathryn 11/26/02-36 Weeks Preeclampsia

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Re : Brewer Diet?

Postby amandab » Fri Aug 01, 2003 07:31 pm


I really appreciate you taking the time to reiterate that one of the puposes of this board is to share opinions. I am a member of another board where the moderators shut down any topic that has gotten even the least bit heated. Every week there is at least one post from the moderators reminding everyone that messageboards are only for positive discussions. I keep thinking, "If only every day of my life was positive..."

I am part of the 25% as you all know, and as I mentioned recently, it is very hard to read the board sometimes. There are many, many posts and even whole topics that I cannot read b/c it is just too painful. But I know in my heart that every woman is here for the same purpose, and thus I never feel attacked. I know that all of us are at different points in the journey... some have lost babies, some have not, some have had PE multiple times, some only once. And all of our experiences are going to shape our opinions and thus our posts.

So what I am trying to say is... I am thankful that there are so many women that want to share what they have learned. I have learned TONS from this board! And I am very thankful that there are so many passionate posters. I've even been one of them a time or two. Passion is what is going to find a cure for PE! So thank you, thank you for encouraging continued discussion!!

Okay, that said... I really enjoy these debates about how to prevent PE or reduce the odds of recurrance. I'm pretty conservative, though. I know next time around, I will stick with the things that seem to have proven out somewhat over time... Vitamin C (which I am already on to help control my BP), baby aspirin, and close monitoring. I think I was very healthy during my pregnancy. I did the yoga and the 30 minutes of walking a day. I did crave junk food, but I made sure I got plenty of healthy foods at each meal also. I drank tons of water and tons of milk. So to think that I did something wrong is incomprehensible to me. And I also don't want to try something my doctor finds controversial b/c if I have a bad outcome next time, I will always wonder, "What if I just didn't try that controversial thing??" But like I said I am pretty conservative. I still like to read about the things other people plan on trying, but I also like to read the opinions against those things.

Whew! I'm long winded on this topic!

Aidan Timothy b 4/14/03 at 29 wks (angel)

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Re : Brewer Diet?

Postby annegarrett » Fri Aug 01, 2003 06:32 pm

Okay--I think I will step in here. First of all--this is one thread on a site with some 4000+ postings--so it would be entirely inaccurate to say that "we" (I use that term to include all posting here) are opposed to a healthy diet. I think that has been said over and over again. The opinions of three women do not represent the whole website. I am not saying any opinions are wrong--just reminding us all to get some perspective here.

I feel terrible that Sarah feels attacked. That is not what we are about here. The strong feelings expressed are concerns about the doctor who is stating them. There are also concerns about the diet. Both of these concerns are valid. We do not know if the diet helps women or not--but several good points on both sides were raised.

I want to say that I hope neither Sarah, nor Alutiq or others at any time will feel that they cannot voice their opinion here. This is why we are here--to share ideas--some of them are going to be contentious. I think it is a mistake to personalize these feelings as an attack--women here, Sarah, you should remember, have lost their babies. Those women are going to feel very attacked when someone says (like Brewer does--and I know he does--he has written me this) that "if you just ate right, you would not have had this disease." Without even really realizing it that is what women read when we hear of this amazing diet. OR they think--"if I had only known." The fact is--we don't know.

The diet is really high in calories--exceptionally high in protein--and this disease compromises your kidneys. As obesity is a risk factor--as you gain weight, it could add to the risk of the disease. It is not a risk I personally would take--but that doesn't mean I know enough to argue the merits of the disease, or think Sarah is wrong. I would be very interested, as I said before, to know how it goes. I certainly don't like that anyone feels attacked.

That said--what I know--and some of the women posting here know--is that this particular doctor has been very very unkind not just to us, but to others who work with us. I personally have received hundreds of letters from him---they are scrawled on with various colored pens, every margin filled with incomprehensible comments--including calling myself, and several of the doctors whom I personally know and who donate their time to our work--terrible names and inferring that they think they are God or Christ, and are responsible for killing women. The man is willing to say for ex: that a particular woman who died died because of her own failure to eat properly. THIS kind of burden to that poor woman's family and her motherless infant--is reprehensible and THAT is where the hostility you are getting is coming from. It is inappropriately being aimed at you because you innocently came here and said--"hey--I am going to do this diet."

I have to be honest--I don't think it is a safe diet for a women with a history of preeclampsia--whether you have had all the screening tests or not. It is a disease that compromises your kidneys... Maybe my personal disbelief is colored by the man. He has been so unprofessional and questionable in his personal judgement that it makes me question his professional judgement. I cannot even share with you or this board the kinds of things specifically he has said--but trust me--they are not professional, and definitely not kind. I question his judgement. THAT said--I still defend your right to try this. We don't know if it works or not--and so I am eager to hear how it goes for you. My personal opinion is NOT the opinion of the Foundation and we would be happy to hear it is successful. Most importantly though--Laura is very right--this disease occurs across the board in the world--if diet was the issue--it would occur at different rates depending on the region. Presumably the US would be less likely to have preeclampsia--as opposed to someplace where there is famine and starvation is an issue. Women in poverty in the US are NOT protein deprived--quite the opposite, witness McDonalds. In fact, there is apparently even some research that preeclampsia went down during the war--when women had less protein due to rations.

I don't know. This is the whole big Atkins diet argument that is so contentious in the rest of the world. Still--I am sorry you have felt attacked. I think we all want to have this be a safe place for women to express their opinions. I for one--as I mentioned about my mom--started out with the desire to do a home birth. I am a vegetarian, and am very open-minded about diet and exercise. Of course we want the women here to eat well and get their weight under control. There is no question that making sure everything you can do is being done. There is a big difference though between his high calorie, high protein diet that is not what OBs recommend, and a normal pregnancy diet that is.

So you know, my best friend delivered her four in the tub at home (separately, thank god!) and if I could have--I would have. I took classes in hypnobirthing and followed a diet like Brewers during my third pregnancy. Twelve hours into my labor--with my hypnobirthing working fine--my kidneys started to fail and I nearly died--I had the Brewer book and was following the Brewer diet. I cannot encourage women to take the risk that I did. What you must appreciate is that we all want something to be "it" and for those of us--who walked, did yoga, ate all the eggs, butter, and protein, etc...and then had this makes it hard to hear someone say--this is what I think will work for me. I hope it does. That's what we all want--for this NOT to happen. What I do want you to appreciate is the anger you are picking up is the anger of loss--and the frustration that someone inadvertantly suggested we had failed. About 25% of the women who post on this forum have lost a baby. The hostility is at the man who suggests that we have done something or failed to do something that had such an incredible price. I know you certainly don't mean that--I really get that. I hope you all can appreciate that we are all fighting the same evil--not one another and our various theories--but this damn disease.

This is an important and really valid debate. Don't let some contention prevent you from exploring the truth behind one another's arguments.

Take care and please feel free to email me privately about this--if you wish.


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