Sunday, September 2, 2012

Magnesium Sulfate Withdrawals

Uses for Magnesium Sulfate for pregnant women:

  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Stops preterm labor and contractions
  • Neuroprotection for unborn babies
     Three days into my five day stay at the Houston hospital , a perinatologist, from a team of six,that was taking care of myself and Jake decided that putting me on Magnesium would be in his best interest.  I was told that this would protect him from damage to his neuro-system.    I had previous experience with this particular perinatologist, and was already not her biggest fan.  I accepted her judgment however, and prepared for the hours of feeling bad, this medicine was going to bring upon me.    I phoned my mother, four hours away, and she began the drive to Houston to be with me.    I was able to get up for the first time in three weeks to take a shower, then I was told I must stay in bed and not get up.  I would get to feeling really hot and just altogether bad.  I went from being a strong, somewhat healthy mommy trying to save her child, to a mommy who couldn't get out bed, one whose arm and hand ached terribly.   My muscles and veins felt as if they were on fire and then being hit by bricks.    I mustered up all the strength I had to lay there in that bed and endure the pain.  I continually kept ice packs on my hand and down my arm, in attempts to ease the pain.  Whenever possible, I would sleep and try to ignore the huge rise in internal temperature I was experiencing.  

       Within a couple of hours, my mother had arrived by my side and together we sat and watched television and I napped.  Around dinner time, I ordered something like spaghetti and garlic bread and a big piece of chocolate cake.  Jake loved Chocolate cake.  He always kicked like crazy after we had some. That night, he was still.  I figured he was sleeping or something.. he had gotten good at wiggling at night while I was trying to sleep, or when someone came in to wake me up.

      Thirteen hours after I received my first loading dose of Magnesium Sulfate, it was shift change.  The new nurse came in to check  Jake's heartbeat.  She didn't find it right away, even after his expert mommy who always knew where it was, pointed to where he usually was.    I kept talking away... the slow to find heartbeat didn't phase me much.  The nurse from the previous shift had ran into a couple of problems finding him earlier in the day... it took her about 15-20 minutes.  Once she found him, he was fine and dandy. :)  I asked the nurse, once , when she picked up my heartbeat , if she wished his heartbeat sounded like mine, loud and clear.  She told me no, she wanted his to sound like his... this is when I was getting a little more nervous.  That nurse, then left and went and got the nurse who had found my baby boy's precious heart beating so rapidly earlier in the day.    She searched and searched and poked at my tummy trying to wake Jake up, or turn him around so that we could hear him.  He didn't wiggle though and he didn't turn around.  It was in these moments while I sat here with the two of them poking and prodding looking for Jake that I knew he was gone.. I tried so very hard to stay calm and hold it together just to make certain..  Together the two of them left to find the perinatologist on call... the same one who had been less than pleasant to me upon my arrival at the hospital.

     The doctor promptly brought in her portable ultrasound machine , and in a matter of two minutes at looking at Jake, told me quietly, "I'm sorry but this baby has no heartbeat".  This is when my world changed.  

He was born the next day at 10:26pm.

Saturday, I remember lying in bed a lot... after I had sent Jake back with the nurse who brought him to me for the final time.  I was depressed and lonely.    It was in this time, a good friend that I hadn't spoken to in a while called.  I was lying on my side... when all of the sudden my chest tightened up, I became extremely short of breath and my right arm began tightening up( the way your arm feels when it's being squeezed too hard by a blood pressure cuff).  I got off the phone for fear I was having a stroke, and called the nurse immediately.  I told her I wasn't sure what was wrong with me... but I felt like I was having a stroke.  She of course took my vitals and told me I was fine, and passed it off as nothing.  I told her how worried I was and she didn't have an answer.  Later that night, the lab stopped by room to take a blood sample.  

When the results came in , I was told the reason I was having such problems the night before was Magnesium Withdrawals.   My perinatologist explained that when the body is given so much magnesium at once, then stopped, it thinks that you don't have enough and your body reacts strangely.  

The solution she suggested

Tums contain Calcium which has the same ionic charge as Magnesium, therefore fools your body into thinking it is once again receiving Magnesium and the withdrawal stops.

I never would have thought that something so simple as Tums would have cured something that I thought was killing me. It's funny to me, that while I was having said withdrawal, I received nothing for it, but the day I was checking out of the hospital to go home, I received such valuable information.  I was told that these withdrawal symptoms could last up to six weeks.  So if you're just now being released from the hospital after having a magnesium Sulfate IV, for various reasons, I would buy some Tums and keep them in your purse, in your car, by your couch... you may need them.

In the end, I am not sure if Magnesium did either one of us any good.  After reading many studies about Magnesium I wonder if the doctor didn't know the risks and hope that it would either help Jake, or somehow get me out of their hair, trying to save my baby.

Read this and see what you think:
This is a study on Magnesium Sulfate before anticipated preterm birth from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology


  1. Sounds awful, I am so sorry for all you had to go through. You are an awesome mommy to your boys.

    1. Tesha, You are so sweet, thank you so much!

      That medicine was awful. That is a great way to describe not only the mag ,but pretty much the whole stay in Houston. I hate that anyone else will have to go through this as well and possibly have the same story ending.