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Swelling during pregnancy is very common. Especially during the summer months or if you live somewhere that is warm all year round.
If you’re experiencing it, or have in the past, you know it can be really uncomfortable! As soon as it begins, you start looking for ways to reduce swelling during pregnancy.
Most women who have swelling during pregnancy find it usually occurs in their feet and ankles. It is also common to have it in your face, hands, and arms.
In some cases, the swelling can get so bad that your feet become 2-3 times their normal size.
During my first pregnancy, I actually got stretch marks on my feet and ankles because the swelling was so bad!
It was embarrassing, to say the least, and really uncomfortable!
What Causes Swelling During Pregnancy?
Studies estimate that more than 75% of pregnant women experience swelling during their pregnancy (usually in the third trimester).
There are a number of things that can cause swelling during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, your body produces a lot more fluids than normal. Especially in your last trimester.
In many cases, your body will retain a lot more of that extra fluid then it needs to causing swelling.
Another common cause of swelling is the pressure your growing baby puts on your vena cava vein. This is a vein on the right side of your body that carries blood from your legs and feet back to your heart. The extra pressure your baby puts on that vein slows the return of blood from your legs. It causes the blood to pool which forces fluid from your veins into the tissues in your feet and ankles.
In normal cases of swelling, you’ll find it’s much worse at night. Especially if you’ve been on your feet a lot throughout the day. Often by morning, after a good night’s rest, the swelling is greatly reduced or gone completely.
When Should You be Worried About Swelling During Pregnancy?
In most cases, swelling during pregnancy is normal.
However, swelling is also an early sign of preeclampsia and/or blood clots.
If you notice any of the following symptoms along with swelling, you should contact your doctor immediately.
- High Blood Pressure
- Extreme swelling in areas other than your feet and ankles
- Frequent Headaches
- Dizziness/Feeling Faint
- Vision going blurry
- Swelling that is just as bad in the mornings as it is at night
- Swelling that is significantly worse on one side of your body (Indication of a blood clot)
- Frequent Kidney Pain even though you’re drinking enough water
You should also contact your doctor if you have a family history of preeclampsia.
If you do develop swelling during your pregnancy, it’s a good idea to keep a reliable blood pressure monitor on hand. Check your blood pressure in the mornings and at night to make sure it’s in a normal range.
Normal blood pressure range is 120/80 mm Hg. If it is below 90/60 mm Hg or higher than 130/90 mm Hg, the swelling could be a sign that something more severe is going on.
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8 Easy Ways to Reduce Swelling During Pregnancy
There are quite a few things you can do to reduce swelling during your pregnancy.
1) Exercise / Be Active
I know the last thing you want to do when your feet are swelling is get up and exercise. If the swelling in your feet is really extreme, walking around and doing any type of physical activity can get very painful. Trust me, I know exactly how you feel. My swelling was worst during my first pregnancy and going for a simple walk was often painful enough to make me want to cry.
However, when you exercise it helps your circulatory system to function properly so that fluids don’t end up pooling in your hands and feet.
Consistent exercise (even just a daily walk) will help you to reduce or even avoid swelling completely.
2) Get Enough Sleep & Make Sure To Sleep On Your Left Side
It’s hard to get enough sleep during your pregnancy, especially the last couple months! Your growing baby makes most sleep positions uncomfortable.
However, getting good, quality sleep, is something that will greatly help to reduce the swelling and make you feel better overall.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, I’d highly recommend a full body pregnancy pillow. I got mine during my fourth pregnancy and was amazed at how much it helped me to sleep better!
During your last trimester, you need support for your stomach, back, arms, and legs to sleep comfortably through the night. Before getting this pillow, I was using 4-5 regular pillows every night and trying to push them into a position that made sleeping at least somewhat comfortable.
As you sleep, it also helps to sleep on your left side. Sleeping on your left side relieves pressure on the vena cava vein mentioned earlier so that your circulatory system can function properly. This, in turn, helps to prevent fluids from pooling in your limbs and cause swelling.
3) Drink Enough Water
It sounds silly to recommend drinking more water when the swelling is being caused by excess fluid retention. Drinking more water does actually reduce swelling quite a bit though because it helps to flush your entire system so that fewer fluids are retained.
During pregnancy, you need quite a bit more water so that your kidneys and circulatory system can function properly. When you’re dehydrated, your body retains fluids but is unable to use them and they end up pooling and causing swelling instead.
4) Use Real Sea Salt Instead of Table Salt
Salt is supposed to play a critical role in helping to regulate and maintain your body fluids. The problem is that most of the salt you get these days is table salt that is so highly processed it no longer has most of the minerals real salt has.
Table salt shouldn’t even be called salt. It’s actually sodium chloride with lots of other things added to it. It doesn’t do anything to help regulate your bodies fluids and can actually cause swelling to become worse or even lead to preeclampsia. The chemicals and things added to table salts can cause your blood pressure to rise along with a whole plethora of other problems.
If you use real salt instead of table salt when you cook, you’ll get the minerals and vitamins it contains that actually help your body. It’ll help to keep the fluid from your body in your blood instead of in your tissues. This, in turn, will reduce swelling.
5) Stick to a Healthy, Well-Balanced Pregnancy Diet
Maintaining a healthy, balanced pregnancy diet will help your body to have the minerals and nutrients it needs to function properly. It’ll help your growing baby to develop normally and keep out some of the processed chemicals that cause all kinds of problems including swelling.
6) Eat Foods High in Potassium
Potassium is a mineral that is needed by most of the systems in your body to keep things functioning normally. Worryingly, many studies show that at least 90% of people don’t get enough of it in their diet.
This mineral does several things for you. Among them are, it balances your blood sugar, improves blood pressure, and helps regulate fluids in your body.
Some foods you can include in your diet to get more potassium are bananas, salmon, beets, carrots, spinach, avocados, broccoli, potato skins, oranges, and asparagus.
7) Soak Your Feet in Water with Epsom Salts or Add it to Your Bath
A great remedy for swelling is soaking your feet in water that has Epsom Salt added to it or taking a bath with about half a cup of Epsom Salts added to it.
Epsom Salts contain magnesium which is a mineral associated with muscle and nerve function. It also helps to regulate your circulatory system so that your blood can flow properly.
When you soak your feet in water that has Epsom salts (or add it to your bath), the magnesium is absorbed into your skin and quickly works to reduce swelling.
Ideally, each time you do this, you should keep your feet in the water, or stay in the bath, for 15-20 minutes to give your body time to absorb the magnesium.
8) Put Your Feet Up as Much as Possible and Don’t Cross Your Legs
To keep fluids from pooling in your feet and ankles, try putting your feet up any chance you get during the day.
Also, make sure you aren’t crossing your legs or ankles. This will put extra pressure on both legs and make it harder for blood and fluids to circulate properly,
Does Swelling go Away Immediately After the Baby is Born?
In most cases, the swelling will go away within 24-48 hours of your baby being born.
I have had pregnancies though where the swelling took 2-3 week to go away! It all depends on you and how well you’re taking care of your body.
Even after your baby is born, continue to use the methods above to reduce and eliminate swelling.
Stick to a healthy diet, drink enough water, and don’t forget your exercise!
Are you experiencing swelling during your pregnancy? What have you noticed helps the most? Do you have questions for me?
Let me know by leaving a comment below!
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