You can expect a lot of changes when you become pregnant. Food cravings, mood swings and the size of your belly are common changes, as are swollen feet.
Retaining fluid during pregnancy is normal. It may seem odd, but this excess fluid is your body trying to help prepare you for pregnancy and labor. Swelling helps enable your tissues to handle the growth of the baby.
Causes of pregnancy swelling
Swelling can affect your feet, ankles, legs, hands or face while you’re pregnant. This is most common during the last few months of pregnancy. During the last trimester, your growing uterus puts pressure on the veins in your legs and feet. This slows blood circulation and leads to fluid buildup.
Women with high blood pressure can experience significant swelling and at a higher rate. Standing for long periods also increases the pressure on your lower limbs, leading to more swelling.
Time and heat can make swelling worse. You may notice swelling increasing at the end of the day or during hot summer months.
Swelling isn’t usually something to be concerned about. At most, it typically causes discomfort, and some women can be bothered by their appearance, especially if they notice changes in their neck and face.
Coping with swelling
Follow these simple tips to help decrease swelling and increase your comfort level:
- Avoid long periods of standing and take frequent breaks during the day
- Lie down on your left side and elevate your legs
- Raise your legs slightly with pillows while sleeping
- Be active and take short walks during the day
- Minimize outdoor activity in hot weather
- Try leg massages and supportive tights to help improve circulation
- Wear compression stockings and comfortable shoes
- Eat healthy foods with the right amount of protein
- Drink eight glasses of water (10 oz. each) per day
- Limit your salt intake
When to call your doctor
Mild swelling is normal, but call your provider if you experience rapid weight gain or sudden or severe swelling, particularly in your hands or around the eyes. Also call your provider if one leg is more swollen than the other, especially if you have pain in your calf or thigh.
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