Pregnancy edema is one of the most common problems that come with pregnancy. The journey of carrying your baby is magical and unforgettable, but it may come with some annoying problems like your body swelling during pregnancy.
Pregnancy Swelling – 7 Important Measures You need to Implement if you have Water Retention in Pregnancy
What is Pregnancy Swelling / Pregnancy Edema?
Besides your belly getting bigger, you may feel also that other parts of your body are increasing in size as if they are full of water, and this happens mostly in your legs and feet. This is called pregnancy edema and it is a very common condition that happens during pregnancy.
Why Am I Swelling during Pregnancy?
One reasons is that you are now feeding two bodies.
Your baby (perhaps even plural?) is growing inside your body and needs food, oxygen, blood, and water grow and develop. Everything your baby requires come through you. As a consequence, your body is producing way more body fluids than before pregnancy.
The other reasons is that your legs are now carrying a heavier load. This heavier load may cause a variety of inconveniences like lower back pain and sciatica, knee pain and even Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction. But it was also compromise water metabolism in your body.
The extra weight that you put on will most certainly hamper flow of venous and lymphatic fluids from the feet back to the heart. The result is swelling in the calves, feet or ankles.
It can be a vicious cycle, because the moment you start swelling, it also become more difficult to move, and lack of movement further aggravates the swelling.
Are there any factors that contribute to pregnancy edema?
Yes, there are some factors, and when they occur, you are more likely to have this kind of swelling during pregnancy. These factors include:
- Not getting enough potassium in your diet
- Eating food that is rich in salt
- Consuming high levels of caffeine
- Hot and humid weather (like in Singapore)
- Standing for long periods of time
When will the Pregnancy Swelling begin?
You can expect to start having pregnancy edema from the beginning of your pregnancy, but in most cases, pregnant women start noticing it from the fifth month of pregnancy, and it may increase as you approach your third trimester.
What can aggravate Pregnancy Swelling?
Eating food that has too much salt in it is going to aggravate swelling. Therefore, watch your diet!
Not drinking enough water is going to aggravate your swelling.
Sitting or standing for long periods of time is not helpful.
1st Measure: Reduce Salt Intake!
This is crucial because salt aggravates water retention. An increase in sodium, which comes from the salt, will lead the body to retain more fluids.
Reducing intake of salt is the most important thing you can do ensure the swelling in pregnancy does not worsen.
2nd Measure: Drink Enough Water!
Many women think that they should limit their fluid intake because they are swelling. Nothing could be further from the truth. When there is excess water in the body, the solution is to drink enough water so that you remain hydrated.
When you are adequately hydrated, the body is then able to have optimal fluid metabolism.
3rd Measure: Limit Amount of Time Spent Standing!
If you have a job that requires you to stand up for long periods of time, this advice is for you.
Teachers and lecturers who are pregnant must take heed, and try to break up the time you spend standing, You should start making this part of your work arrangement before the end of the second trimester, even before you begin to feel the swell.
4th Measure: Keep Moving!
Keep moving and stay active throughout the day!
This is akin to the previous measure – we don’t want you to stand all the time, but it isn’t good to stay sedentary all the time either!
If you have a corporate job which involves sitting in front of your computer, this advice applies to you! It can be difficult to walk long distances if you have water retention that makes it difficult to move around.
For this reason, it is important to keep moving even when your legs are not swollen. For those who find walking to be difficult, swimming is another activity you can engage in to keep moving without putting strain on your body.
5th Measure: Elevate Your Feet!
Whenever you can, elevate your feet slightly.
This can be done when you are at home. Whenever you get the opportunity, go horizontal! This means to lie down for a while, or better yet, to elevate your feet even a wee bit.
6th Measure: Use Compression Socks!
Using compression socks can be helpful the moment you start feeling heavy and swollen in your legs. It is crucial if you are already starting to form varicose veins in the legs.
Compression socks help reduce fluid congestion in the lower limbs by pumping lymphatic fluid upwards.
7th Measure: Schedule in for Lymphatic Drainage!
Swelling in the body goes hand-in-hand with congestion in the lymphatic system. When you are pregnant and your lower limbs are swollen, the lymph nodes in the inguinal fold and behind your knees are often congested and hard.
By decongesting the lymphatic system, you will also be able to restore water metabolism in the body.
There are different styles of lymphatic drainage, for example Vodder and Chikly are different techniques. What is important when seeing a lymphatic drainage therapist is not the technique used but the efficacy in treatment.
If you are pregnant and swollen, it is important you see a person who is able to treat your specific presentation, and not just do a standard protocol. Some people may be congested only in the legs and not in the arms; some have swelling in the face or body. Different people present differently. Therefore, customized treatment is crucial in lymphatic drainage in pregnancy. Check out Precise Lymphatic Drainage for Water Retention in Pregnancy.
When is it a medical emergency?
Having swollen arms or legs during pregnancy is totally normal, however, you will have to call your doctor if any of the following happen:
- Your swelling is not getting better or it is getting worse.
- You are swelling in the face during pregnancy.
- Your blood pressure is raised.
- Only one leg is swollen and the other one is normal.
- You are feeling dizzy, having blurry vision, or experiencing a bad headache.
What you don’t want to have is this condition called Pre-Eclampsia.
We hope that now you know what to expect from pregnancy edema, and how to manage it.