According to the March of Dimes, some amount of swelling during pregnancy is normal and to be expected. This is most often seen in the extremities of the hands and the feet and may occur more typically during the final few months of the pregnancy.
Why there is swelling
As the body produces and retains more fluid in order to grow the fetus and prepare for the delivery, many pregnant women experience (an estimated 75%) some amount of swelling or edema. The swelling during pregnancy could be worse in the hotter seasons and may worsen at the end of the day. The extra fluid is generally lost after the arrival of the baby.
Women find that after a day’s activities the swelling is typically worst as being on the feet means that the fluid pools in the lower regions of the body. Salt intake could also be behind the problem of swelling. Too much or too little salt in the diet could be responsible for water retention that causes edema.
When swelling during pregnancy is normal and when it isn’t
So long as the swelling is confined to the feet/ankles and is not so severe that it impairs normal functioning it may be enough to just take certain precautions to reduce the swelling. Mainly it could lead to symptoms such as slight discomfort and the ungainly appearance of the swollen ankles that a woman has to deal with.
However if the swelling spreads to the hands and face or is very severe this could be the sign of preeclampsia (toxemia) or high blood pressure. Any puffiness around the eyes, or unequal swelling in both legs should be reported. If symptoms such as severe headaches, blurred vision, abdominal pain, leg or thigh tenderness/pain and dizziness accompany the swelling this should be reported promptly to the health care provider.
Here are some tips for managing swelling during pregnancy
Put your feet up during the day whenever possible and if possible have a lie down for a while to reduce the swelling. In addition, use a foot stool to elevate your feet while working and take frequent breaks to get up and walk so your circulation improves.
Try water aerobics. Not only is this or swimming excellent exercise for pregnant women because it is low impact and safe, it can also reduce swelling during pregnancy by getting rid of excess fluid from the body.
Wear comfortable clothing and shoes that are not tight or restrictive so that there is no impeding of blood circulation to add to the swelling. Don’t wear socks or hose with tight elastics or any tight jewelry. Instead wear supportive tights or stockings to help improve circulation.
Getting enough exercise and eating a healthy diet will keep weight gain under control and will also help to keep the swelling in check. In particular eat foods such as bananas, nuts and so on which are good sources of potassium and avoiding junk food will cause less water retention.
A seemingly contrary way to keep swelling during pregnancy in check is to drink plenty of water. This actually helps the body retain less water.