Home » Misc » Ways to help swelling during pregnancy
Ways to help swelling during pregnancy
5 ways to manage swollen legs and feet during pregnancy | Your Pregnancy Matters
What can we help you find?
Refine your search: Find a Doctor Search Conditions & Treatments Find a Location
Appointment New Patient Appointment or Call214-645-8300
Your Pregnancy Matters
September 14, 2021
Your Pregnancy Matters
Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, M. D. Obstetrics and Gynecology
The additional weight and hormones you experience during pregnancy can cause swelling and structural changes in your feet.
Of all the body parts you expect to get bigger during pregnancy, feet might not be at the top of your list. But most pregnant women experience swelling in their lower legs and feet.
If your ankles appear puffy and your shoes don’t feel quite right, you’re not imagining things. The additional fluid and blood your body creates to support healthy fetal growth also slows down blood circulation. That can cause blood to accumulate in your lower extremities, causing swelling.
During pregnancy, you also produce more relaxin, a hormone that helps your tendons, ligaments, joints, and muscles – you guessed it – relax. While relaxin helps your pelvis open to give birth, it also loosens the tendons and ligaments in your feet.
The combination of extra weight and hormones during pregnancy can cause your feet not only to widen but also flatten and lengthen. Leg or ankle swelling likely will decrease a week or two after your baby is born, but your feet may never be the same again.
Studies have shown that pregnancy can cause a permanent decrease in your arch and increase in foot length – typically only after a woman’s first pregnancy.
While more research is needed to determine whether these structural changes can be prevented, there are a few things you can do throughout your pregnancy to reduce swelling and feel more comfortable.
Coping with swollen legs and feet during pregnancy
1. Wear compression socks
Wearing 15-20mmHG compression socks that end at your knee can help alleviate achiness. The socks gradually increase pressure in your legs and move some of the excess fluid back into your blood vessels and the rest of your body.
Avoid socks with a tight band at the top. The tightness might worsen swelling by blocking blood return. That can increase your risk of developing a blood clot – which is already five times higher during pregnancy. You don’t need to purchase medical-grade socks, but you can find a good pair of compression socks for $10-$20.
Compression socks also can prevent the formation of new varicose veins, which occur in 15% of pregnant women for the same reason that causes swelling. The risk doubles after your first pregnancy and is four times higher in women over 35. These veins start out as little bumps under your skin; the socks squeeze them just enough to prevent backward blood flow and bulging. Existing varicose veins aren’t likely to shrink, but compression socks can reduce the pain and discomfort they cause.
2. Rest efficiently
You can easily improve blood circulation during downtime and sleep:
Elevate your legs above heart level while reading, watching TV, or doing other seated activities. The simple change in body position decreases pressure on your veins, which no longer have to work against gravity to send blood to your heart. Use cushions for comfort and elevate in 15- to 20-minute intervals a few times a day.
Sleep on your left side. While you can safely sleep on either side during pregnancy, the left side is often recommended to avoid putting pressure on the inferior vena cava, a large vein that carries blood from your lower extremities to your heart.
3. Get your feet wet
Immersing your feet and ankles in cool water for 20 minutes a few times a week can minimize swelling, whether you use a pool, bathtub, or even a large bowl. Bonus: It’s also a great way to deal with the Texas heat if you’re pregnant during the summer.
Be sure the water temperature is moderate and not ice cold. Cooler temperatures cause the smaller blood vessels close to your skin to constrict, which reduces blood flow to and swelling within the affected area. Water that is too cold can have the opposite effect. Whether you stand and sway or sit and dangle your feet, water therapy is a great way to relieve stress and pain.
Related reading: Water immersion during labor
4. Invest in supportive shoes that fit.
Unsupportive and uncomfortable shoes can cause even more leg and foot pain, plus backaches. Even if your feet return to their pre-pregnancy size, you’ll feel more comfortable in shoes that fit your feet and support your additional body weight. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends wearing shoes that:
Have a low heel but are not flat
Provide good arch support, such as athletic shoes
Many patients prefer shoes that have mesh, which allow their feet to breathe, and can easily slip on and off to limit bending over while pregnant. More shoe brands are merging comfort and style, so even the most fashionable patients will have no problem finding footwear they feel good about wearing.
5. Visit a podiatrist or pedicurist.
Another reason to wear shoes that fit: Stress from tight shoes can cause ingrown toenails, and so can infrequent nail trimming. In the first two trimesters you probably won’t have any difficulty trimming your toenails. But once you reach the third trimester, it might get more challenging.
Try propping up your feet on a stool or ask your partner to help trim your toenails. Nail salon gift cards are a great item to add to your baby shower (or sprinkle!) registry, too.
Seeing a podiatrist is another option to prevent or treat painful foot conditions, such as ingrown toenail, bunions, or plantar warts.
When swelling becomes serious
While gradual swelling in your lower and upper extremities is normal, sudden or severe swelling in your face, hands, or feet might be a symptom ofpreeclampsia. This pregnancy complication involves very high blood pressure.
If you have preeclampsia, you may need to stay in the hospital until you give birth. Delivery is the only way to “treat” preeclampsia. Left untreated, the condition can cause seizures, kidney or liver damage, and in rare cases, death.
Related reading: Postpartum hypertension: When a new mom's blood pressure is too high
Talk with your doctor about foot and leg swelling, as well as any other pregnancy symptoms. The more we know about your current condition, the more we can help reduce your risk of future complications.
While we can’t fully prevent foot and leg swelling, we can recommend ways to reduce your risk, such as:
A healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables
Discomfort during pregnancy is to be expected, but our goal is to partner with you to minimize it – as well as the risk of more serious conditions.
To discuss your pregnancy concerns or symptoms with an expert, call 214-645-8300 orrequest an appointment online.
More in: Your Pregnancy Matters
Mental Health; Your Pregnancy Matters
Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, M. D.
October 11, 2022
Prevention; Your Pregnancy Matters
Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, M.D.
October 4, 2022
Mental Health; Your Pregnancy Matters
Meitra Doty, M. D.
September 27, 2022
Your Pregnancy Matters
Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, M.D.
September 20, 2022
Men's Health; Women's Health; Your Pregnancy Matters
Yair Lotan, M. D.
September 6, 2022
Your Pregnancy Matters
August 29, 2022
Your Pregnancy Matters
Patricia Santiago-Munoz, M.D.
August 23, 2022
Mental Health; Your Pregnancy Matters
August 11, 2022
Your Pregnancy Matters
Emily Adhikari, M. D.
August 2, 2022
Causes, Plus Treatments That Work
While you may be enjoying the magical time that is pregnancy — it truly is miraculous how many restroom trips you can squeeze into one day — and eagerly anticipating the arrival of your sweet little bundle, there are some less than magical side effects that many parents-to-be experience.
Your body is changing rapidly, which can get a little uncomfortable. One discomfort that many people experience during pregnancy is swollen feet.
Let’s talk about why your feet may swell during pregnancy, when you might notice this happening, when you should seek medical attention, and some simple treatments that can help.
While swollen feet may or may not be painful, they can certainly be uncomfortable or bothersome.
Fortunately, you can try several simple strategies to help ease your symptoms during pregnancy.
Even better? They may involve snacks, a cold drink, swimming, massage, and possibly shoe shopping. Doesn’t sound so bad, right?
1. Reduce sodium intake
One way to reduce swelling during pregnancy is to limit your sodium (salt) intake. Salt makes your body hold on to extra water.
Try to avoid canned or processed foods, as these are especially high in sodium. Also, try not to put extra table salt on your food.
Using savory herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and oregano is an easy way to add flavor to your recipes without using salt.
2. Increase potassium intake
Not getting enough potassium can also make swelling worse. This is because potassium helps your body balance the amount of fluids it holds onto.
Your prenatal vitamin should have some extra potassium for you, but it’s also important to eat good sources of dietary potassium.
Some foods that are naturally high in potassium include:
potatoes with the skin on
sweet potatoes, also with the skin on
some fruit juices, especially:
Reduce caffeine intake
While occasional caffeine during pregnancy isn’t harmful (and hey, a person’s gotta stay awake!), drinking too much caffeine isn’t considered great for a baby. It can also make swelling worse.
Caffeine is a diuretic, which causes you to pee more, which then makes your body think it needs to hold on to fluid.
Try a decaf coffee with milk or an herbal tea such as peppermint to help give you a little energy boost instead.
4. Drink more water
As strange as it sounds to drink more water to counteract swelling, it actually works. If your body thinks you’re dehydrated, it will hold on to even more fluid to try to compensate.
So try to drink at least 10 glasses of water every day to keep your kidneys flushing out the bad stuff and your body happily hydrated.
If it feels daunting to drink that much water, try getting a cute cup that you’ll want to keep refilling, or a giant water bottle that you’ll only have to refill a couple of times per day. You can also flavor your water with lemon, mint, or berries to make it more enjoyable.
5. Elevate your feet and rest
Even though you have a million things you want to get done before baby arrives, try to sit and put your feet up when possible.
While sitting all the time isn’t great for your circulation, standing all the time is also hard on your beautiful pregnant body.
Sitting with your feet elevated for a little while — especially at the end of the day — can help drain the fluid that’s been pooling in your legs over the course of the day.
6. Wear loose, comfortable clothing
Wearing tight clothing, especially around your wrists, waist, and ankles, can make swelling worse. Basically, it keeps blood from circulating as easily as it could.
Try to wear loose, comfortable clothes — or at least avoid tight elastic bands. Maternity maxi dresses in the summer and flowy cardigans or sweaters with joggers in the winter can be both cute and comfortable.
7. Stay cool
Especially if you’re pregnant during the hot summer months, staying indoors during the heat of the day and avoiding vigorous exercise can help keep you cool and reduce swelling.
You can also wear cool clothing, put cold compresses on your feet, or keep a fan nearby.
8. Wear waist-high compression stockings
Yes, these are just about as appealing as they sound. But if you’re experiencing persistently swollen feet or have to be on your feet most of the time, you can wear waist-high compression stockings.
These stockings gently squeeze your feet and legs to help keep fluid circulating. Try to avoid the knee-high compression stockings, as they may be too tight in the middle of your leg and actually make swelling worse.
Going for even a 5- or 10-minute walk a couple of times per day can help improve your circulation, which helps reduce swelling.
This can also be a good break in your day, and it’s a great way to get pregnancy-safe exercise.
10. Wear comfortable shoes
While you may look adorable in your high heels, late pregnancy is a good time to give them a break.
Wearing comfortable (even orthotic), well-fitting shoes is key to reducing foot swelling, as well as to preventing hip and back problems that can arise as your center of gravity shifts and your weight increases.
In addition to the swelling, the ligaments in your body (including your feet) actually do stretch during pregnancy, so your feet may change size. Some people’s feet return to their pre-pregnancy size, but many people find that their feet are permanently a half-size or so larger.
It may be annoying that one more thing is changing or that some of your beloved shoes no longer fit, but this is an excellent excuse to find some new favorites.
There are no studies proving that water pressure reduces swelling during pregnancy, but many people do find relief from swelling when they spend time in the pool.
Try standing or swimming in a pool where the water depth is almost up to your neck. At the very least, you will feel lighter and cooler, plus get a little exercise. You may also find that your feet and legs are less swollen.
12. Get a massage
Your partner may be looking for ways to be involved during the pregnancy process, and this is the perfect opportunity.
Massage helps circulate the fluids that tend to accumulate in your feet, which will in turn reduce swelling.
So grab your water bottle, put your feet up, and let your partner gently massage your feet and legs. Adding some peppermint or lavender essential oil can make this even more relaxing.
And if you’re rocking this pregnancy solo or your partner isn’t the touchy-feely type, many massage studios offer specialized prenatal massages. These can not only help with swelling, but are great for helping relieve some of the stress that can accompany pregnancy.
13. Sleep on your left side
Sleeping on your left side when possible can improve blood flow, which reduces swelling of the feet. Lying on your left side takes the pressure of your uterus off of the inferior vena cava, which is the large blood vessel that returns blood to your heart.
When can you expect your feet to start puffing up? Well, the good news is that it’s usually later on in pregnancy. So you’ll likely recognize your feet for the first half or more of your pregnancy.
Rapidly increasing levels of the hormone progesterone (literally “pro gestation” or “pro pregnancy”) slow your digestion down. This can cause abdominal bloating long before you have a noticeable baby bump.
You may also notice a bit of puffiness in your hands, feet, or face — but not much.
If you notice a lot of swelling this early on, especially if accompanied by other symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, or bleeding, it’s best to call your doctor or birthing professional, such as a midwife.
The second trimester begins with week 14 of pregnancy, roughly the start of month 4. It’s not unusual to start noticing swollen feet around month 5 of pregnancy, especially if you’re on your feet a lot or the weather is hot.
This swelling is due to the increasing volume of blood and fluids in your body. Your blood volume increases by about 50 percent during the course of your pregnancy, and that’s paired with a lot of hormonal fluid retention.
While it may make your rings and shoes a little snug, all this extra fluid helps to soften your body and prepare it for giving birth — and that’s exactly what you want. Rest assured, the extra fluid will rapidly decrease in the days and weeks after your baby is born.
Starting with week 28 of pregnancy, the third trimester is by far the most common time to experience swollen feet.
Especially as the weeks go on and you get closer to week 40, your toes are more likely to resemble little sausages than anything else (yes, becoming a parent is glamorous).
Your body is continuing to build its supply of blood and fluids, which can contribute to swelling. Your uterus is also getting much heavier as your baby grows, which can slow blood flow from the legs back to the heart. (Don’t worry, this isn’t dangerous — just uncomfortable.)
Other factors that can contribute to swollen feet include:
not drinking enough water
being on your feet for long periods of time
Swollen feet are a very typical part of pregnancy, as many of your fellow pregnancy buddies can probably tell you! So most of the time, swollen feet are just another sign of all the hard work your body is doing to grow that new little life.
However, swollen feet can sometimes signal a more serious concern.
One of these concerns is called preeclampsia. This condition can develop during pregnancy and cause dangerously high blood pressure.
Call your birthing professional or doctor if you notice:
sudden swelling of your hands, feet, face, or around your eyes
swelling that gets dramatically worse
dizziness or blurred vision
a severe headache
abdominal pain, especially in the upper right section of your abdomen
If you notice swelling in just one leg that is also accompanied by pain, redness, or heat, this could mean you have a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). A DVT is a blood clot, usually in your leg.
It’s important to call your healthcare professional immediately if you notice these symptoms. This is because people are more likely to get blood clots during pregnancy than when not pregnant (thanks once again, hormones).
If you’re unsure whether your swelling is typical or have any concerns, it is always best to call your doctor or midwife. They’re happy to help keep you and your baby safe and healthy!
Swollen feet are a very common side effect of pregnancy. Swelling is caused by increased fluid volume in your body, as well as decreased circulation.
If you experience sudden or severe swelling, it’s important to call your doctor or birthing professional, as this may be a sign of something more serious. But a little swelling is definitely expected.
You can help prevent foot swelling by getting regular gentle exercise, drinking plenty of water, resting, and eating a balanced diet.
Before you know it, your shoes will fit again and the only feet you’ll be focusing on will be those tiny baby toes!
For more pregnancy guidance and weekly tips tailored to your due date, sign up for our I’m Expecting newsletter.
reasons, what to do, how to reduce
Is swelling during pregnancy normal?
Where can edema appear?
How to detect edema?
Are swelling during pregnancy dangerous?
How to reduce swelling during pregnancy?
If swelling disappears during pregnancy, is it good?
Pregnancy is a happy time in anticipation of a miracle, but even it has a few “fly in the ointment” that few people manage to avoid. Perhaps the most famous of them are toxicosis, digestive problems, back pain and, of course, swelling. Why do pregnant women swell? By what signs can you understand that it is time to start treatment? What can be done to prevent or reduce swelling? Let's discuss the causes and consequences.
Is swelling during pregnancy normal?
More likely yes than no. The key causes of edema during pregnancy are an increase in fluid in the woman's body and a high level of progesterone 1 . This hormone begins to be actively produced even during ovulation, preparing the uterus for egg implantation. Its concentration remains consistently high in a woman's blood throughout pregnancy, providing many important functions associated with fetal development. Unfortunately, it has such a side effect.
Many women experience swelling before menstruation 2 . It's also progesterone. The hormone level rises in the second half of the menstrual cycle, which leads to this result.
The very fact that one of the causes of edema during pregnancy is the production of a very important hormone does not mean at all that you need to accept this situation with humility. It all depends on the severity of the condition: slight swelling in pregnant women is almost inevitable, but if they become significant, it is worth thinking about treatment.
What other changes in the body appear during pregnancy, read here.
Where can edema appear?
Edema during pregnancy is most often localized on the feet, ankles and lower legs. The reasons are clear: excess liquid first collects at the very bottom - where gravity pulls it. Usually everything starts with pastosity - mild swelling with blanching and a decrease in skin elasticity.
The next favorite place for pastosity and swelling is the hands. Also, excess fluid often leaves a mark on the face, along with edema, nasal debt may appear - the so-called "pregnant rhinitis" 3 .
Important to know!
Most people consider cold drops and sprays to be among the most harmless medicines. Just not during pregnancy - many of them are dangerous for the fetus 4 ! Be sure to consult your doctor before treating a runny nose.
And even in the early stages of pregnancy, a woman's body temperature rises to a more comfortable fetus - just above 37 ° C. This does not mean at all that you have caught a cold or caught a virus. To learn more about basal temperature, read our article.
How to detect swelling?
Severe swelling during pregnancy is hard to miss. When puffiness is not so pronounced, especially if the accumulation of excess fluid occurs slowly, the following signs will help to detect them:
There is a suspicious weight trend. If you follow the diet recommended by your doctor, but the weekly weight gain exceeds the norm for this period of pregnancy, most likely water is retained somewhere in the body.
Rings get stuck on the fingers, tight shoes. Signs of pastosity during pregnancy are easiest to detect by things picked up by hand or leg - they begin to press. By the way, it is better to remove the rings while there is such an opportunity.
The face is rounded. Every day you see your face in the mirror and you will surely notice if its forms begin to blur, smooth out.
There are traces of rubber bands. Many women today wear "footprints" - short socks that are almost invisible from the shoes. Perhaps the high "classic" is not so elegant, but it is an excellent tool for the early diagnosis of edema during pregnancy. If their elastic bands leave embossed marks on the legs, it means that excess fluid is collecting in the tissues.
There are unusual sensations in the fingers. If you feel tingling, burning, or numbness in your fingers, if there is pain or tension when you bend your fingers or step on your toes, it is most likely a sign of swelling.
Is swelling during pregnancy dangerous?
Edema is an excess accumulation of fluid in tissues 5 . As you can see, in this definition there is no clarification “in the tissues located directly under the skin”, internal organs can also swell. Often, swelling of the arms, legs, face in pregnant women is just the tip of the iceberg. Hidden from the eyes, internal stagnation of water can cause dysfunction of organs, general dehydration, and impaired oxygen transport. Ultimately, this can threaten the fetus with an insufficient supply of nutrients and oxygen starvation. Severe swelling during pregnancy affects not only the beauty of the expectant mother, but also the health of her baby.
Medicine divides edema during pregnancy into physiological and pathological. The former refers to almost inevitable changes associated with a hormonal shift and a general increase in fluid circulating in the body. The latter are a sign of various internal problems, such as kidney disease, heart failure, varicose veins, preeclampsia (late toxicosis) and others. Physiological edema usually does not require treatment - to reduce them, it is enough to follow a healthy lifestyle. In pathological cases, it is necessary to find the cause and eliminate it.
Your doctor will be able to distinguish physiological from pathological edema based on the results of the examination and tests. In particular, the presence of protein in the urine is an alarming sign. Between visits to the doctor, you yourself can suspect a pathology if the edema grows too quickly, starts to rise above the shins, and when you press on the swollen places, dents remain on the skin, which slowly resolve.
What else can go wrong while carrying a baby? Watch a video lesson on the pathologies of pregnancy from the fertility specialist Anna Ilyina.
How to reduce swelling during pregnancy?
Pharmaceutical treatment is the last resort and is used only in extreme cases. Usually it is enough to adjust the lifestyle and acquire a few good habits. We'll give you 12 simple tips to help reduce water retention 1 .
Observe the regime of the day. Try not to overwork during the day and have a good rest. The duration of sleep during pregnancy should be at least 8 hours, and if your body has such a need, even 9-10 hours.
Walk more. Your assistants in the treatment of edema during pregnancy are fresh air and reasonable physical activity. If in ordinary life you are used to walking only from the elevator to the parked car and back, something needs to be done about it.
Wear comfortable shoes. Even if you really love high-heeled shoes, even if you have complexes without them because of your own height, you will have to give them up for a while. Uncomfortable shoes exacerbate swelling during pregnancy, and soft shoes with low heels help fight it. If your feet still hurt at the end of the day, visit an orthopedic salon and ask a specialist to make custom insoles for you.
Change your posture more often. When your body becomes numb, it swells. Try not to sit or stand without moving for a long time. Both at work and at home, periodically leave your favorite chair to stretch a little. And while you are sitting in it, do not freeze in one position - move your arms and legs, change the position of your body.
Let's rest our feet. To prevent swelling in the legs, it is necessary to periodically raise them higher. So you facilitate the work of the circulatory system and allow it to pump out a little excess fluid from the legs. It is ideal to lie on your back with your legs up, but even if you just put them on a nearby chair during lunch in a corporate kitchen, this is not bad.
Exercise. In the fight against puffiness during pregnancy, simple physical exercises are useful - tilts, turns, etc. Statics will also help: kneel, then lower yourself on your elbows, stand in this position for 5 minutes. Yoga classes for pregnant women also allow you to disperse the fluid.
Lie on your side. In late pregnancy, your body itself will tell you the correct position for rest - lying on your side. In the early stages, it is also the most useful: in this position, the kidneys work most efficiently, utilizing excess water.
Drink, and do not limit yourself in this. You might think: the less I drink, the less swelling there will be. No, you can't drive them away like that, but getting dehydrated is easy. Drink as much as you want, but only clean water, fruit drinks or decoctions without sugar. Soda, juices from the store and other sugary drinks should be excluded from the diet.
Maintain a nutritional balance. During pregnancy, eat more protein foods, avoid pastries, bread, sweets and other carbohydrate-rich foods, limit the amount of fat in the diet. Completely give up "empty calories" - snacks and fast food.
Arrange fasting days. Treat yourself with a diet once a week. It's not about sitting on the water all day. There are many recipes for a tasty and quite nutritious "unloading" - from a kefir or banana diet to a chicken breast day or fruit smoothies.
Control your sodium intake. Sodium salts hold fluid in tissues, and the most famous of them is ordinary table salt. To prevent severe swelling during pregnancy, limit your daily salt intake to one level teaspoon, even less is better. When calculating, do not forget that salt enters the body not only from the salt shaker. It is found in many food ingredients (meat, fish, dairy products, tomatoes, etc.), and in almost all semi-finished and finished products - from sausage to bread. Over time, you may even come to love the natural taste of food without or with minimal salt added - it is quite good.
Take natural diuretics. Rosehip, hawthorn, chamomile, lingonberry, bearberry - in the pharmacy you can find a lot of natural remedies to combat edema. Discuss the purchase with your doctor: during pregnancy, you should consult with him before taking any medications, even herbal ones.
Compression stockings 6 can be worn to prevent swelling and varicose veins. Consult a doctor - he will tell you what is better to buy and how to use.
If swelling disappears during pregnancy, is it good?
If you've recently changed your diet, started spending more time outdoors, or are taking other activities, that's very good. So your treatments are working and you are on the right track.
Another thing is when edema during pregnancy disappears by itself, without any changes in your life. A few days before the planned date of delivery, this is normal: progesterone has done its job, and its level drops 7 , releasing excess water. If the birth is still far away, a spontaneous decrease in edema is at least a suspicious sign. Contact your doctor to establish the cause of the body's unexpected gift and decide what to do about it.
Links to sources:
13 Home Remedies for Swollen Feet During Pregnancy.
Pascale Mutti Tacani, Danielle de Oliveira Ribeiro, Barbara Evelyn Barros Guimarães, Aline Fernanda Perez Machado, and Rogério Eduardo Tacani. Characterization of symptoms and edema distribution in premenstrual syndrome. Int J Women's Health. 2015; 7:297–303.
Eva K Ellegard. Special Considerations in the Treatment of Pregnancy Rhinitis. Women's Health, Volume: 1 issue: 1, page(s): 105-114.
Wai-Ping Yau, Allen A. Mitchell, Kueiyu Joshua Lin, Martha M. Werler, and Sonia Hernández-Díaz. Use of Decongestants During Pregnancy and the Risk of Birth Defects. Am J Epidemiol. 2013 Jul 15; 178(2): 198–208.
Big medical encyclopedia. Edema.
What to Know About Compression Socks and Stockings.
Astle S, Slater DM, Thornton S. The involvement of progesterone in the onset of human labor. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2003 Jun 10;108(2):177-81.
Follow us on Yandex Zen
what to do if legs and arms swell during pregnancy
Edema during pregnancy, few people manage to avoid. According to various sources, only a fifth of future mothers are lucky. For the rest, this unpleasant phenomenon causes a lot of moral and physical suffering. What to do? Let's try to explain.
What is edema?
Edema is an excess of fluid in the tissues. The place where it accumulates looks swollen, puffy. In the early stages, the problem is almost imperceptible or it does not exist at all, which cannot be said about edema during pregnancy in the second and third trimesters.
Pay attention! Hot flashes during early or late pregnancy and swelling are two different things! In the first case, we are talking about a sudden fever (less often chills), and not about the accumulation of fluid.
Why pregnant women have swollen legs
In fact, understanding the cause of edema is very important, because they are both natural and pathological. The latter are quite rare, but are the causes of severe violations.
Natural or physiological edema during pregnancy begins due to a changing hormonal background, when sodium salts linger in the tissues and do not go away. In another version, the growing uterus, while the woman is lying, occludes the inferior vena cava and does not allow blood to leave the femoral veins.
Pathological swelling during pregnancy may indicate the presence of:
Deep vein thrombosis
Blockage of the vessel, which leads to death. Risk factors: trauma, venous insufficiency, smoking, physical inactivity, oncology.
It occurs in approximately 2% of pathological edema. It is characterized by increased blood pressure and high levels of protein in the urine. The disease has varying degrees of severity. The most terrible consequences are a stroke, the death of a mother or child, fetal pathology. Risk factors: chronic hypertension, adolescence or women over 35 years of age, hereditary predisposition, first or multiple pregnancies, diabetes mellitus, etc.
Acute infection, usually caused by streptococci; characterized by skin lesions and inflammation of the subcutaneous tissue.
Types and features of edema
Edema begins in the lower extremities and gradually moves up to the face. We’ll talk about the dangers of edema during pregnancy a little later, but for now it’s worth understanding if there is any difference between them at different times. Note that we will talk about pathological situations when the accumulation of fluid exceeds the norm by 30%.
Edema is not as common in early pregnancy. The weight of the child and the volume of the uterus are not yet so large as to interfere with the full functioning of the body. However, if they occur, then you should pay the attention of your doctor to this, since such deviations may indicate serious illnesses. In particular:
hypothyroidism - insufficient production of thyroid hormones.
kidney problems - that is why it is very important to take urine for analysis every two weeks.
In the middle of pregnancy, this pathology can signal the onset of varicose veins, in which case the doctor will send the woman for a consultation with a phlebologist.
Another pathology that causes the disease is heart failure. The disorder is also accompanied by shortness of breath and cyanosis of the mucous membranes. Such problems will have to be treated together with a cardiologist.
But a much bigger problem when carrying a baby is preeclampsia. Its onset can be seen already at 18-20 weeks, although the disease is gaining full strength in the third trimester. It will only have to be treated in a hospital.
Here it is worth dwelling in more detail on gestosis. So called late toxicosis. Together with edema, a woman is tormented by high blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, convulsions, drowsiness, weakness, fever, or excessive emotional arousal, which affects the physical condition.
The condition has four levels of severity:
protein in the urine and problems with pressure are added to them
eclampsia, in which strokes and placental abruption are possible
A woman was observed in our hospital with complaints of severe swelling of the legs during pregnancy. The lower limbs were indeed swollen, which was noticeable to the naked eye. During the survey, it turned out that the woman's blood pressure began to rise regularly. Since she was already in her 3rd trimester, the patient was recommended to immediately go to the hospital for preservation and additional examination. As a result, the patient was diagnosed with preeclampsia.
How to get rid of swelling during pregnancy
Physiological edema can be prevented or at least reduced. For this you need:
reconsider your diet - there should not be fried, smoked, salty or spicy.
treat water more carefully - drink only clean, non-carbonated and, preferably, most of it before lunch.
less to be in the heat and in stuffy rooms - you will certainly want to drink.
wear comfortable shoes.
lie down daily for about half an hour so that the legs are located above the head.
walk more - light physical activity is good for everyone, but in this case there is a need for the approval of a doctor.
Your doctor may give you other recommendations. It is important to take into account all the factors of pregnancy and choose the most effective therapy within the given framework. Our doctors can advise you remotely and draw up the right treatment regimen.
Swollen legs during pregnancy - how to fix?
You need to discuss this with the doctor who manages the pregnancy. Edema can be both physiological - then you will simply be given a number of recommendations for their elimination, and pathological - when it comes to certain disorders in the body.
What is "internal edema" during pregnancy?
Internal or hidden edema during pregnancy is invisible externally. Here we are talking about swelling of the internal organs. A violation is calculated by exceeding the norm of weight gain in the last terms.
How to eliminate swelling at 37-39 weeks of pregnancy?
Follow the recommendations of the doctor and, if necessary, undergo a course of treatment. In any case, your doctor will answer all questions in more detail. Do not self-medicate.
We publish only verified information
Menshikova Maria Viktorovna obstetrician-gynecologist
Experience 38 years
Specialist with extensive practical experience. He has a certificate of a mammologist, a certificate of professional certification.