Managing Swelling In Late Pregnancy

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, summer is just beginning.

For pregnant women nearing the time of delivery, swelling in the hands, lower legs and feet is a common occurrence, which is only made worse when the weather gets hot.[ankle and foot edema]

Swelling near delivery actually occurs for a reason: the extra water your body is holding on to will help offset the fluids you will lose during delivery. Normal pregnancy swelling occurs mostly in the hands and feet.pregnancy swelling

It is worse at the end of the day and when you’ve been standing for a while, and better when you get up in the morning or after you sit with your feet propped up. Normal swelling of pregnancy occurs primarily during the last trimester.

Swelling that occurs suddenly (you gain 10 pounds over the weekend, for example), that does not go away when you rest, that affects the face, or that is so severe in your lower legs that briefly pressing against your leg with your finger leaves a “pit” or indentation, is an indication of a medical condition, and you should contact your health care provider immediately.

If your swelling is just the normal swelling of pregnancy, here are some things you can do to make yourself more comfortable.

First, check your diet and fluid intake. Are you drinking enough? It may seem counterintuitive, but drinking too little can actually contribute to swelling.

Make sure you are getting at least 6 to 8 glasses of liquid each day. Avoid beverages containing caffeine as they can contribute to dehydration. Avoid beverages with a lot of sugar, as they generally have less nutritional value.

Salt affects the way our cells manage fluids. Do not restrict your salt intake, but do not over salt your foods either. Sea salt is a good choice.

Also take a look at how much protein you consume over the course of an average day. You should be getting at least 70 grams of protein each day. Inadequate protein intake has been linked to pre-eclampsia, and swelling is a warning sign. Increase your consumption of lean protein if necessary. [pregnancy diet]

When you sleep or rest, be sure to lie on your left side. Lying on your right side restricts circulation to your lower body and lying on your back can restrict blood flow to the uterus, not to mention being very uncomfortable.

You should spend at least 20 minutes, two to four times each day, with your feet elevated. They should be elevated above the level of your heart.

If your work requires you to stand, make sure you take frequent breaks to walk around and get off of your feet. If your work requires you to sit, you still need to take breaks to walk around; try using a footstool under your desk.

To further improve circulation and reduce swelling, exercise about 20 minutes a day at least three to four times a week. Walking, swimming, gentle stretching exercises, and pelvic rocks are all good exercises.


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