When a woman is pregnant, her body manufactures about 50 % more blood and fluids in order to meet the requirements of the developing baby. Swelling is a rather normal aspect of pregnancy and is caused by this added blood and fluid. Swelling or edema is experienced in the legs, ankles, feet, hands and face.
This additional fluid is necessary to soften the body, which helps it enlarge as the baby grows. The surplus fluid also helps to get the pelvic joints and tissues ready for delivery. The surplus fluids account for around 25 % of the weight that you put on during pregnancy.
What Causes Water Retention During Pregnancy?
Swelling may occur any time during pregnancy, nevertheless it usually evident around the 5th month and increases while you are in the last few months. The ballooning uterus exerts a lot of pressure on to the pelvic veins and the vena cava.
This pressure slows down the return of blood from the legs back to the heart, making it pool, which in turn forces fluid from the veins in to the feet and ankles.
The following factors cause swelling in pregnancy:
- Hormonal changes
- Summertime heat
- Too much activity
- When you stand for protracted periods of time.
- Consuming too much caffeine.
- Consuming too little potassium.
- Low levels of iron in the body.
- High level of sodium consumption.
Slight swelling is fairly common during pregnancy; on the other hand, in case you experience sudden swelling in the hands and face, it could indicate pre-eclampsia. It is very vital that you talk to your OB/GYN about it immediately.
How To Avoid Fluid Retention During Pregnancy?
- Do not stand for protracted periods of time.
- Curtail your outdoor time when it is hot.
- Keep your feet elevated. When lying down keep pillows underneath the ankles. When sitting keep a stool to raise the legs.
- Make sure you stretch your legs repeatedly while sitting: Stretch your legs out, heel first, and gently flex the foot to stretch the calves. Move the ankles up and down and jiggle your toes.
- Take a short walk often; this will help the blood from pooling in the legs.
- Wear comfortable foot wear.
- Do not wear clothes which are tight around the ankles and wrists.
- Get maximum possible rest.
- Use cold compresses on the swollen areas.
- Restrict your intake of salt
- Have foods which give you lots of potassium, such as bananas and apples.
- Drink 2 to 2.5 litres of water daily.
- You could also try maternity support stockings. Put them on before getting out of bed in the morning, this makes sure that the blood doesn’t accumulate around the ankles.
- Exercise regularly; you could opt for walks, Yoga or swimming. However, do consult your health care provider before embarking upon any regimen.
- Make sure that you eat well. Talk to a nutritionist who will chalk out a perfect diet for you and also enumerate the dos and don’ts.
Don’t let the swelling and edema make you feel depressed. The swollen ankles and feet will almost certainly add to your feeling of awkwardness, but it is a passing phase which will end soon after you give birth.