Side Effects of Pregnancy On You

Swelling During Pregnancy

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As your pregnancy progresses, you may begin to notice that your tummy is not the only part of your body beginning to swell up. In the fifth month of pregnancy and beyond, most women begin to experience swelling around the feet and ankles. This swelling, called edema, is a normal, though mildly uncomfortable, part of pregnancy.

What causes edema?

Your body may be circulating up to 40% more blood than usual by the last trimester of your pregnancy. Often, extra fluid leaks out from blood vessels and pools beneath the skin. While it sounds scary, it is not typically a medical problem during pregnancy. However, excessive swelling could be a sign of a more serious condition, called pre-eclampsia. Your caregiver will monitor you for this and other symptoms of pre-eclampsia.

What can I do about edema?

There are several things you can do to ease the swelling of pregnancy.

  • Put your feet up. Standing for long periods of time can cause fluids to accumulate around the ankles. Resting with your feet elevated will help.
  • Drink plenty of water. It seems counter-intuitive, but drinking plenty of water will help keep the swelling under control by flushing your system of any impurities that may be contributing to the swelling.
  • Watch your sodium intake. Many processed foods have much more salt in them than is good for you. Cut back on processed foods, and avoid adding too much salt to meals.
  • Make sure you get plenty of potassium in your diet. Bananas, apricots, and many kinds of beans are among the most potassium-rich foods.
  • Stay cool. Hot weather makes swelling worse. Limit your outdoor time during summer, and do your exercising in the cooler mornings and evenings.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and supportive stockings. Tight shoes and socks, high heels, and other confining footwear should be avoided.

Some swelling is normal and expected during pregnancy, but excessive swelling, especially if it occurs around the hands and face, is a cause for concern. Call your physician if you become concerned about the amount of swelling you're experiencing. If it becomes so severe that the pressure a fingertip leaves an indentation in the leg, it could be a more serious condition than the normal edema of pregnancy.

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This internet site provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your own health or the health of your child, you should always consult a doctor or other healthcare professional.