How to Minimize Swollen Extremities (Edema) during Pregnancy?

Pregnant women often get edema and this sometimes let them down because of their appearance. This article presents some tips to minimize swollen extremities during pregnancy.

Edema (also known as dropsy or fluid retention) is swelling caused by the accumulation of abnormally large amounts of fluid in the spaces between the body’s cells or in the circulatory system. It is most common in feet, ankles, and legs. It can also affect the face and hands. Edema is a symptom, not a disease or disorder but it can make you irritating.

Pregnant women often get edema because they are retaining more water. Their ankles and feet become swollen. The pressure slows the return of blood from their legs, causing it to pool, which forces fluid from their veins into the tissues of their feet and ankles.

Edema in the ankles and feet during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester is normal. Pregnant women may also have some mild swelling in their hands. However, call your doctor or if you notice that one leg is significantly more swollen than the other, especially if you have any pain or tenderness in your calf or thigh, or if you notice swelling in your face or puffiness around your eyes, more than slight swelling of your hands, or excessive or sudden swelling of your feet or ankles, which may be a sign of preeclampsia, a serious condition.

Here are a few tips to minimize swollen extremities (edema) during pregnancy:

•        Put your feet up whenever possible. At work, keep a stool or pile of books under your desk. At home, lie on your left side when possible.

•        Don’t cross your legs or ankles while sitting.

•        Stretch your legs frequently while sitting: Stretch your leg out, heel first, and gently flex your foot to stretch your calf muscles. Rotate your ankles and wiggle your toes.

•        Take regular breaks and have a short walk from sitting or standing. Wear comfortable shoes that stretch to accommodate the swelling.

•        Don’t wear socks or stockings that have tight bands around the ankles or calves.

•        Try waist-high maternity support stockings. Put them on before you get out of bed in the morning.

•        Drink plenty of water.

•        Exercise regularly, especially by walking, swimming, or riding an exercise bike. Or try a water aerobics class.

•        Eat well, and avoid junk food.

•        Do not worry about your appearance because of edema during pregnancy too much because the swelling will disappear fairly rapidly after you deliver your baby.


Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

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