Swelling during pregnancy though a normal condition, can make a woman very uncomfortable. Read on for information on the causes and treatments for the same.
Swelling is experienced by all pregnant women at some point or the other. It is a normal condition and is the body’s way to prepare for the child. Blood and body fluids are produced in more than normal quantities so that both the mother and the baby’s needs are catered to. This can lead to swelling of the body, also known as edema. Hormonal fluctuations experienced during pregnancy can also lead to swelling. Another reason behind edema is water retention. The retention of fluids helps soften the body tissues, thus helping them expand. This lets the body adjust itself to the growing baby and prepare for delivery. Thus you see that it’s normal to experience edema during pregnancy. But there could be other factors causing it, which you shouldn’t ignore.
In most cases, swelling occurs in the second or third trimester of pregnancy.
It is often seen that swelling increases during the summers. This is because the heat and humidity leads to more water retention in the body, thus leading to its swelling, especially abdominal. Hence you should avoid going outdoors during the noon. Early mornings and late evenings are the best times to go out during summers. You can try hitting the pool on hot days. Swimming not only combats edema but also helps keep your body cool.
If you are not taking enough fluids and are dehydrated, the body starts retaining fluids, leading to edema. So, as a pregnant woman it is extremely important that you keep your body hydrated at all times. Drinking lots of water works wonders for you as well as your baby. It not only helps you ease constipation and reduce the risk of urinary tract infections (common in pregnant women), but also helps in softening your skin and reducing the chances of preterm labor. It is recommended that pregnant women drink eight to twelve glasses of water everyday. But make sure you do not over-hydrate yourself since it may dilute the electrolytes, causing cramps and fatigued muscles. Have fresh fruit juices or milk to replace the electrolytes that are drained away due to heat.
Swelling of the feet and legs could be due to excessive physical activity. Exercising is beneficial but overdoing it is definitely not a good idea. Walking, jogging and swimming are safe exercises but vigorous activities where you might fall or be thrown off balance should be strictly avoided. These include cycling, horse riding, gymnastics and other such activities. You should refrain from indulging in rigorous sports activities. Standing for long hours should also be avoided since it may lead to swelling of the feet.
Swelling can occur on account of an improper diet. Milk and other dairy products should be included in the diet during pregnancy for their high content of calcium and protein. Fruits and vegetables provide you with the necessary vitamins, fiber and minerals. Protein-rich foods should be included in the diet. Excessive intake of caffeine can cause edema. So drinking coffee should be restricted. It’s best to consult a doctor to know the exact diet to be followed.
A diet low in potassium and high in sodium can cause body swelling. Whether or not to eat salt during pregnancy has long been a debatable issue. Earlier, doctors used to recommend a low-sodium diet for pregnant women. But now, most doctors agree that a moderate amount of sodium can actually help maintain adequate fluid levels. Excess or low levels of salts in the body lead to swelling. Hence moderation is necessary.
Recognize the factors that cause swelling in your body. The following home remedies can be of help in reducing swelling during pregnancy.
- Follow a well-balanced and healthy diet, which is high in potassium and low in sodium. A diet low in sodium, accompanied by good fluid intake helps reduce excessive water retention.
- Avoid exposure to hot weather. Stay indoors during the peak summer hours.
- For avoiding swollen ankles, refrain from overdoing physical activities. Relax your feet by keeping pillows under them while sleeping.
- Massages have a very soothing effect on the body. They help in alleviating discomfort.
- Yoga is especially beneficial for pregnant women as it helps in relaxation, reduces swelling and also aids in a smooth delivery.
- Pregnancy exercises should be done regularly as they promote good health, reduce body swelling and keep the pregnant woman active.
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes. Always choose to wear comfortable outfits and footwear.
- Putting your feet up or lying down on your back helps in reducing swelling.
- Avoid standing or sitting in the same position for long hours. Get up and walk around if you have been sitting for too long. This helps relieve pressure on the inferior vena cava and thus helps to get the blood flowing. This, in turn reduces the chances of swelling.
- Drink water, loads of it.
If the swelling is sudden or extreme, and is on the face or hands, it could be due to a condition called preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a form of hypertension during pregnancy that can have serious consequences if left untreated. Other symptoms associated with this condition are severe headaches, sudden increase in weight, hazy vision and high blood pressure. If swelling is accompanied by any of these symptoms, it is advisable to contact a doctor immediately.
Pregnancy is a crucial phase during which there are several changes taking place in the body. You should never hesitate to talk to your doctor whenever you feel the need to. Taking care of your health should come first, for a safe pregnancy and for the healthy development of your unborn baby. Here’s wishing you a happy pregnancy.