Pregnant women often notice swelling in hands and feet. This article describes the causes of swollen hands during pregnancy.
Most pregnant women complain about swelling in ankles, feet, and hands. Excess fluid is generated in the body of a pregnant woman which gets collected in the tissues. As the body tends to retain more water, a pregnant woman notices swollen hands and feet. Medically, the condition is known as edema. Minor swelling in hands during pregnancy is considered normal. However, swelling in the hands and feet can also be a symptom of preeclampsia, a condition which needs prompt medical attention.
As a woman gets pregnant, the circulatory system expands to provide blood to the growing fetus. Her body produces approximately 50% more blood and fluids to meet the demands of the growing baby. Therefore, it is quite normal to experience swelling in hands. The woman may experience swelling in face, feet, ankles, and legs too. Excessive amount of fluid is required for softening the body. It promotes easy expansion of the parts of the body as the baby starts growing inside the womb. This extra fluid enhances the process of opening the pelvic joints and tissues, which in turn prepares the body for childbirth. The accumulation of extra fluid in the body is responsible for approximately 20% of the weight gain during pregnancy.
Some women may notice swelling in the hands during early pregnancy, however, usually, the swelling is noticed around the fifth month. During the third trimester, especially during the last few weeks, swelling can increase significantly. Some other factors such as increased summertime heat, increased physical activity, high-sodium diet, low-potassium diet, excessive consumption of caffeine, etc., can lead to swelling in the hands.
How to Reduce Swelling in Hands?
Avoid too much of physical exertion and working the whole day. While standing for long hours can cause swelling in the legs, sitting in front of the computer and typing for the whole day may cause swelling in the hands. This does not mean that you should take complete rest. Just limit your physical activities and do not over strain your body. However, you need to perform mild exercises which promote proper blood circulation. Avoid going out when it is too hot. Do not wear clothes that are tight around your shoulders and wrists. Cold compresses can be placed on swollen areas as they help reduce swelling. Though increased amount of body fluid causes swelling, it is essential to drink plenty of water during pregnancy. This helps in getting rid of toxins from the body.
A balanced and healthy diet is a must for a pregnant woman. Therefore, you need to minimize the salt (sodium) intake in your meals, and avoid fast food, junk food, processed, and canned food.
Swollen Hands: Preeclampsia Symptom
The condition wherein high blood pressure and protein in urine are detected during pregnancy is known as preeclampsia. It usually occurs during the second trimester. Swollen hands and feet, itching, headache, blurred vision, stomach pain, lower back pain, and high pulse rate are some of the main symptoms which if noticed, need to be treated immediately. Neglected preeclampsia can result in serious complications. Doctors usually control the swelling and the elevated blood pressure with the help of proper medications.
It might be difficult to differentiate between the normal swelling and serious swelling. Prenatal checkups are, therefore, necessary to maintain the health of the mother as well as the baby. Therefore, if you are pregnant and you notice swelling in your hands, you should consult your doctor immediately.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.