Swelling most often occurs later in pregnancy, typically starting in the second trimester. Though usually not a sign of anything serious, it can be uncomfortable and annoying. Luckily, there are steps you can take to reduce swelling while you are pregnant.
What causes swelling during pregnancy?
Swelling (also known as edema) is a normal part of pregnancy. While you’re pregnant your body will produce approximately 50% more blood and body fluids to meet the needs of the growing baby. The extra fluid helps soften the body which allows it to expand as the baby develops. All the excess fluid usually ends up in places like the hands, face, legs, ankles, and feet.
However, if you notice excessive swelling in your face, puffiness around your eyes, or sudden swelling in your feet or ankles, this could be a sign of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is different from the regular swelling, and you should call your doctor immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.
When does the swelling start and what makes it worse?
Swelling may occur at any point during pregnancy but it tends to be noticed around the fifth month. It usually becomes especially troublesome in the third trimester1.
The following factors may also affect swelling1:
· Summertime heat
· Standing for long periods of time
· Low potassium in your diet
· High level of caffeine consumption
· High level of sodium (salt) intake
Four ways to reduce the swelling
A little-known fact is that the extra fluid the body produces during pregnancy accounts for approximately 25% of the weight women gain while they’re pregnant1. This means that the swelling women deal with is not insignificant. Here are a few things that might help reduce the swelling:
1- Watch what you eat
Your overall diet can play in huge role in reducing your swelling. Things you can do include:
- Eat foods that are high in potassium such as bananas, spinach, avocado, and salmon.
- Avoid caffeine as much as possible and minimizing sodium (salt) intake.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it will help your body to hoard less water.
- Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin C and vitamin E. These are usually found in lots of fruits and vegetables like oranges, green leafy veggies, and citrus fruits. But if you’re not able to get your daily recommended vitamin intake, then be sure to take women’s health supplements to boost your levels. The best way to do this is to choose a prenatal supplement with these nutrients.
2- Keep your feet happy
Investing in a pair of comfortable, well-supported shoes may be one of the best purchases you will make while you’re pregnant. Here are a few more tips about shoes and feet to keep the swelling at bay:
- Avoid wearing high heels as much as possible.
- Avoid wearing tights or tight-fitting socks that restrict the movements of your legs.
- If the swelling is particularly painful, don’t stand when you can sit; and if you can sit, elevate your feet.
- At work, it helps to keep a stool or pile of books under your desk.
3- Other therapies
Because swelling is a normal part of pregnancy, it does not need to be treated by medications. However, it is a side-effect that can cause much discomfort. For that reason, a lot of women think about alternative therapies to help relieve the worst of their symptoms.
Massage: Get your friend or partner to give you a foot massage to help improve circulation. If your swelling is more widespread, consider seeing a professional masseuse to help relieve edema.
Exercise: Keeping active while pregnant can go a long way towards reducing swelling. Walking, swimming and other low-intensity cardio exercises help to keep the limbs mobile and improve circulation.
4- Wear loose and comfortable clothing
Clothes that are tight around your wrists, arms, or ankles can become extremely uncomfortable if you experience swelling. Wearing loose and natural fiber clothing can minimize discomfort and won’t restrict your ability to move. Maternity clothing is a great way to help deal with these issues.