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Swelling during Pregnancy – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

It is normal for your body to produce and retain more fluid during pregnancy, particularly in recent months. This may cause a slight swelling (edema), especially in legs, feet, ankles, hands and face. This inflammation worsens at the end of the day or during the summer months.

Causes of swelling during pregnancy:
Excess fluid in the body is generated to help the body to prepare for pregnancy and childbirth. Allow your fabric to handle the growth of your baby. It also prepares your pelvic area for delivery. Most of the weight gained during pregnancy is due to liquid. Your body normally gets rid of it in the days after delivery.
During late pregnancy, the growing uterus puts pressure on the veins of the legs and feet. This slows down the bloodstream and causes further accumulation of fluid in the feet and ankles. Standing or sitting with feet on the ground for long periods of time may increase pressure on the veins.

A little swelling, particularly in the feet and ankles is normal during pregnancy. But if the swelling is severe, contact your health care provider. Here are some tips to relieve swelling :

Relieve the pressure.
– Put your feet on a stool or footstool, or lie on your side.
– This will relieve pressure on the veins of the lower body and reduce swelling.
– Take breaks during the day where you can sit with your feet up.
– While you sleep, elevate your legs slightly with pillows.
– Do not cross legs while sitting.
– Avoid standing or sitting with feet on the ground for long periods of time.
– Stay calm.
– Heat can make it worse.
– Stay calm and try not to get overheated.

Improve circulation.
– Lying on your left side can help improve circulation and reduce swelling.
– After long periods of sitting, go for a small walk.
– Avoid tight clothing or jewelry that cut off circulation to the wrists or ankles.
– Massage the legs and support socks can also help improve circulation.

Eat a healthy diet.
– It is important to eat healthy and get adequate amounts of protein. Deficiency of protein can make your body retain fluid.
– Salt increases water retention so try to limit or avoid foods high in salt.
– Drink plenty of water. Water actually helps in reducing swelling by keeping you hydrated and it also washes sodium (salt) from your body.

Be careful with medications.
– Some medicines, including those bought without a prescription can cause serious harm to you and your baby during pregnancy.
– Do not take any medication (“water pills”) to reduce inflammation without talking to your healthcare provider.

When talking with your healthcare provider
Mild swelling of the legs, hands and face is normal during pregnancy. But call your health care provider if severe or sudden swelling occurs especially in hands, face and around the eyes. This could be a sign of a serious condition called preeclampsia (also called toxemia) that causes high blood pressure and fluid retention. Women with preeclampsia may have any of the following symptoms:
– sudden or severe swelling of the hands and feet
– severe headaches
– blurred vision
– dizziness
– severe pain in the belly
Also call your health care provider if one leg is more swollen than the other, especially if you also have pain or discomfort in the calf or thigh.

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