Approximately 75 percent of all pregnant women experience edema, or some swelling during pregnancy. Here are some information to help relieve the swelling and when to worry...
by Patricia Hughes
Approximately 75 percent of all pregnant women experience some swelling during pregnancy. For the majority of these women, this is mild edema. The swelling generally occurs in the extremities, such as the feet, legs and hands. Swelling in the face can occur as well. this mild edema is most common in the third trimester.
Causes of Edema in Pregnancy
During pregnancy, your blood volume increases by about 50 percent. Your body is producing and retaining more fluids when you are pregnant. This can result in fluid retention, which results in swelling.
As your baby grows, more pressure is put on the veins in your legs. The vena cava is the large vein that returns blood to the heart from the limbs. The pressure on the vena cava from the growing uterus slows the flow of blood and this can result in swelling of the feet and legs.
One way to relieve the swelling is to relieve the pressure on the veins. There are a few ways you can do this. When you are sitting for long periods of time, such as at work, get up and walk around. Whenever possible, elevate the feet on another office chair or stool. This relieves the pressure, which can reduce the swelling. do not sit with your legs crossed, as this interferes with the flow of blood, which can increase the swelling.
The way you sleep can help relieve swelling. sleep on your left side at night. This improves the flow of blood to the heart. This effect can be improved even more by elevating the legs at the same time. you can do this with a few bed pillows.
Exercise is great for improving the blood flow, which can help prevent and reduce swelling. regular exercise has many other benefits as well, including lower weight gain and preparing the body for the birth of the baby. walking outside or on a treadmill is great for improving the blood flow. Swimming is good for reducing the pressure of the uterus. Try to exercise at least three or four days each week for thirty minutes at a time.
The foods you eat can contribute to swelling. avoid foods and snacks that are high in sodium. Foods and beverages that contain caffeine should be eliminated as well, if swelling is a problem. Sodium and caffeine can dehydrate your body. while this may seem like a great idea for women with swollen extremities, the opposite is true. If you are dehydrated, your body will try to compensate by retaining more water. drinking plenty of water will help reduce the swelling.
When to Worry
For the majority of women, edema is normal and doesn’t present a problem. However, there are situations when the swelling is not normal and should be checked by your doctor. If the swelling is sudden and severe, this can be a symptom of preeclampsia. Dizziness and head ache are also symptoms of preeclampsia.
Patricia Hughes is a freelance writer and mother of four. Patricia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University. She has written extensively on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting and breastfeeding. In addition, she has written about home décor and travel.
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