Swelling, or edema, is a very common discomfort of pregnancy. It's estimated that about 75% of women will experience this excessive accumulation of fluid around the legs and ankles at some point during pregnancy. Here are some helpful hints on dealing with normal swelling in pregnancy:
- Try rest. When the weather is warm, or you've been standing on your feet for awhile, or even just at the end of your day, you may notice that your feet feel tight, your shoes don't fit, or just a general puffiness. In general swelling is nothing to be alarmed about. Most women report that swelling subsides after a good night's rest, or several hours lying down.
- What you take in counts. If you'd like to take a more active approach in treating edema, there are a couple of things you can do to help relieve the symptoms. The first, and probably one of the best and most important, is to drink a lot of water. While it doesn't seem like it makes sense to get rid of fluids by taking in more, the extra fluids will help flush out your system of waste products which may have increased swelling. You really need at least 8 eight ounce glasses of water a day. The best tip I have for accomplishing this is to fill up a container to carry around and empty it by the end of the day.
- The truth about salt. While many people believe that swelling is caused by excessive amounts of salt in the diet, the opposite is also true. Limiting the amount of salt you take in can cause swelling as well. As with all things, moderation is the key to balance.
- Try water or hydrotherapy. Some studies suggest that even beyond the once told water immersion, water aerobics can help with swelling. Being in a pool of water helps the body shed the excess fluids through the kidneys, while supporting the pregnant uterus.
- Don't wear elastic topped socks or knee-hi pantyhose.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Slip on types work best.
- Put your feet up when possible.
- If you stand at work, try to move around slightly or get a stool to prop a foot up.
- Try support pantyhose.
You may also notice slight swelling in your hands. This may be enough that you want to consider what to do with your rings. Be careful because swelling might sneak up on you, forcing you to make a decision.
When Swelling is Not Normal
When swelling is sudden or extreme, or found in not only the legs and feet, but face and hands, it can be something serious. You should report this type of swelling to your midwife or doctor immediately. You should also report swelling that does not go away after many hours of rest. If you're at a higher risk for complications that include swelling like preecclampsia your practitioner should have explained what you are looking for and when it needs to be reported.
Whenever you're concerned about your swelling or other medical questions, never hesitate to talk to your doctor or midwife.
In the end, you may or may not notice swelling. If you do, find a good way to deal with it that works for you and keeps you comfortable. If you notice something problematic, be sure to report it right away to your provider. The sooner you report problems, the more likely your doctor or midwife will be to help intervene if necessary. The vast majority of time swelling is a nuisance and not a medical issue.