Are you bothered by your swollen hands, or swollen feet and ankles?
Swelling during pregnancy, also known as edema, is a common condition as your body retains fluid.
Swelling can happen anywhere in the body but during pregnancy, it is most common in the hands, feet, ankles, and legs.
Learn more about swelling during pregnancy
Oedema in pregnancy can happen in the second trimester. But it usually occurs in the third trimester.
Swelling during pregnancy is also called gestational oedema or pregnancy-associated oedema. It happens when your body becomes overfilled with fluid causing some body parts to swell.
Swollen hands or swollen feet in pregnancy is more common than you may think. And it’s nothing to worry about as long as you take care of yourself during pregnancy.
The exact causes of swelling during pregnancy are not entirely known. But, several factors may contribute to oedema:
- Increased blood volume due to increased blood flow through the uterus
- High hormone levels like oestrogen and progesterone. These hormones are responsible for preparing your body for childbirth.
- Decreased production of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH). This helps regulate how much water leaves your kidneys. This can lead to excess fluid retention)
- Increased sodium levels in your body. Pregnancy increases blood pressure and sodium levels because of increased blood volume.
Swollen hands and feet during pregnancy
Swelling during pregnancy is a common symptom, especially in the latter half. Swelling occurs when the body retains extra fluid. The increased levels of hormones in the body often cause it.
These hormones cause the blood vessels to dilate, which leads to fluid retention. Swelling during pregnancy is usually not a cause for concern.
However, if you are experiencing sore and swollen feet and hands during pregnancy, it may be a sign of preeclampsia, which can put you and your baby at risk during pregnancy.
If you are experiencing swelling with pain, do not hesitate to contact your healthcare provider.
Tips to reduce pregnancy oedema
Swelling generally starts around 20 weeks of pregnancy and it can worsen as the pregnancy progresses. Swelling during pregnancy is often worse in the heat of summer or after standing for long periods.
Swelling can be uncomfortable. It can even be painful at times, but there are things you can do to help reduce the swelling and feel better.
Here are seven ways to reduce swelling during pregnancy:
1. Drink plenty of water and other fluids
Dehydration is one of the biggest causes of swelling during pregnancy. Drinking enough water helps keep your body hydrated. Moreover, it helps prevent dehydration. This can cause your body to keep in excess fluids, causing swelling.
2. Eat foods high in potassium
Foods high in potassium like bananas are good for reducing bloating because they encourage your kidneys to process more sodium out of your body. And this instead of holding onto it causes swelling.
You should avoid foods high in sodium. Foods such as chips, fast food or canned soups can make you retain even more fluid. It will make you feel even worse if you already have some swelling!
3. Elevate your feet and legs whenever possible
One way to help reduce swelling during pregnancy is to elevate your feet and legs whenever possible. You can do this by lying down with your legs propped up on a pillow or sitting in a chair with your feet elevated.
Keeping your feet and legs elevated can help reduce the amount of fluid. Since that builds up in your lower extremities, it minimises swelling during pregnancy.
ALSO READ: 13 symptoms of low amniotic fluid during pregnancy
4. Wear loose, comfortable clothing
Wearing loose, comfortable clothing can help keep oedema at bay!
Wear loose clothing every day. It will feel more comfortable. It will also help you not get fluid in your legs.
The more comfortable you are, the less likely you’ll be to develop swelling during pregnancy. So now that we’ve got you thinking about how to look good while also avoiding oedema, here are some tips to help you get there:
- Wear loose-fitting pants (or skirts) instead of jeans. They can make it harder for your body to pump out excess fluid and don’t allow as much air circulation. They’re also often made from synthetic materials. They hold moisture better than natural fibres do.
- Wear cotton underwear instead of synthetic ones like nylon or Spandex. The material will allow air to circulate on your skin more easily. This results in excess fluid escaping without building up under the surface. Cotton is also a breathable material. So it won’t trap moisture inside like synthetics might if left damp all day.
5. Exercise regularly
The most important thing is to stay active and exercise regularly! Exercise helps cut swelling by increasing blood flow throughout the body. It helps carry excess fluid away from your extremities also back into your circulatory system.
Exercise also helps prevent other conditions that may lead to oedema. Examples are high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus (Type 2). When you’re active, you’ll reduce your risk of developing these conditions!
6. Avoid Standing For Long Periods of Time
Do you know how you get oedema when you stand for too long?
Well, it’s not because you’re standing still. It’s also because of gravity.
That’s right: gravity is a thing that can make your legs swell if you don’t move around. That’s why we recommend avoiding standing for long periods—and sitting, too!
But what if you have to stand? How can you avoid selling during pregnancy? Well, the best way is to make sure you’re moving around as much as possible.
If you’re in a meeting or class, try taking breaks every 20 minutes to walk around the room or do some stretches.
This will help keep your blood flowing throughout the day and prevent micro-tears in your muscles from building up over time.
7. Try wearing compression stockings.
Compression stockings are a garment that helps reduce swelling in the legs and ankles by applying pressure to them. They’re not just for older people anymore—people of all ages can enjoy wearing these garments.
Compression stockings are available over the counter at pharmacies and medical supply stores. You should talk with your doctor before purchasing a pair. They can prescribe the appropriate level of compression based on your medical history and needs.
How to reduce swollen feet during pregnancy
Swelling feet during pregnancy is common, especially in the feet and ankles. It’s caused by the extra fluid retention that happens when you’re pregnant.
Swelling and oedema are usually worst at the end of the day or after you’ve been standing for long periods. Two of the tips above can help reduce swelling in feet during pregnancy, and these are:
- Avoid standing for long periods. When you are standing, try to move around as much as possible.
- Elevate your feet and legs whenever possible. When you’re sitting, prop your feet on a stool or pillows.