Reducing Swelling During Pregnancy: How To Relieve Pain
in Legs, Feet, Ankles, and Hands
Swelling during pregnancy is certainly a normal and expected
event: around 25% of the weight you gain will be due to
increased fluids in your body. Swelling takes place as part
of the birth preparation—think about it: you’re making room
for a baby, filling up the amniotic sac with cushioning
fluid, circulating more blood and moving nutrients around,
and getting ready for lactation. No wonder your outline is
getting a little blurry!
What Causes Swelling During Pregnancy?
When you’re pregnant, your body increases its supply of blood
and other fluids by half again as much as it usually makes,
softening and preparing the joints for childbirth. A lot of
liquid surrounds the baby, but you’ll also notice changes in
your feet and ankles, fingers and hands. Swollen fingers are a
normal part of pregnancy starting around the fifth month, and by
Baby‘s birth day, you may feel something like a water
balloon—but that’s a good thing! Your puffy little body will
make it somewhat easier to deliver—and isn’t that ‘swell’!
Still, fluid retention can make you uncomfortable; some women
experience pain in their legs and backs which can be lessened by
easing up on lifestyle choices that increase fluid retention. If
you’re looking for ways to reduce swelling, employ some of the
How to Reduce Swelling
- Cut down on salt, which causes your body to retain water.
- Avoid junk food, which is high in salt and fat and low in
vitamins and fiber
- Drink lots of water (8, 8-ounce glasses a day is minimal!)
- Rest your feet and legs by spending some rest time each day
with your feet up.
- Avoid caffeine, which can be dehydrating
- Eat foods rich in potassium—like bananas, dried fruit or nuts
- In summertime heat, stay cool. Spend time in the swimming
pool, or in air-conditioned places
- Use cold compresses on swollen areas
- Get adequate exercise, to aid in circulation and keep your
Drinking plenty of water is key in staying healthy whether you’re pregnant
or not, but when you’re expecting, it’s even more important
because you need more liquids for your body to work properly.
Drinking water, in ways utterly mysterious to most of us, helps
flush out the body and decreases water retention! So, keep a
glass nearby—or even a pitcher.
Aside from actually reducing swelling, there are some things you
can do to stay more comfortable, even as your body attempts to
hold onto every bit of moisture it can find. Wearing loose
clothing, leaving off rings and watches, sporting comfortable
shoes instead of high heels and wearing support hose (when the
weather isn’t hot) can all make you feel more at ease. Look for
maternity clothing that makes you feel light and breezy, that
doesn’t bind or pull. Avoid snug collars, pack away your belts
and don’t even look for a waistline until after Baby arrives.
All Swelling During Pregnancy is Not Normal
There is a medical condition called preeclampsia, which is
characterized by sudden swelling in the hands and face. Normal
edema happens normally—not overnight! But in preeclampsia,
abnormally high blood pressure causes noticeable facial and hand
swelling: if you experience sudden swelling, contact your
doctor. OB-GYNs test for preeclampsia at prenatal visits, and
mild cases aren’t dangerous, but if you have the condition, you
should be under a doctor’s supervision
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