Swelling During Pregnancy: What to Expect and How to Manage
It should come as no surprise that pregnancy—while a unique and amazing time for parents—can come with some extra bodily changes and side effects. One of the most common changes you may experience while pregnant is the swelling of your feet and ankles, in addition to some other parts of your body. Let’s go over a few common questions about swelling and discuss why swelling is normal during pregnancy, as well as talk about ways to manage it.
“What Causes Swelling During Pregnancy?”
During pregnancy, the amount of fluid in your body will drastically increase in order to accommodate your developing baby. These fluids include the amount of water you can retain as well as the extra blood and plasma your body will produce. While a lot of this fluid helps your body take care of and prepare for your baby, extra fluid that isn’t utilized can cause gradual, mild swelling in your ankles and feet, as well as other parts of your body—like your legs, fingers, hands, and face. Swelling can happen at any point throughout your pregnancy, but it is most common around the fifth month or third trimester. Don’t worry—this swelling is normal!
“How Can I Manage or Treat Normal Swelling?”
If you are experiencing normal pregnancy-related swelling, there are a few ways you can reduce both the swelling and related pain.
- Take frequent breaks while standing and avoid standing for long periods of time
- Elevate your feet while sitting
- Wear comfortable, supportive shoes with good arch support and avoid heels
- Limit high-sodium foods, such as fast food or processed snacks
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water to help flush out extra fluid and sodium
- Get up and walk around regularly if you are sitting for long periods of time
- Avoid hot or humid weather if possible
- Wear compression socks or leggings to help with circulation and support
- Exercise regularly to help get your blood circulating (swimming is a great option!)
“When Should I See a Doctor?”
While gradual and mild swelling throughout your body is normal during pregnancy, significant or sudden swelling could be a sign of preeclampsia. If you notice any of the following symptoms, call your maternity care provider immediately.
- Sudden or significant swelling in your hands, feet, face, or legs
- “Pitted” swelling, meaning your skin stays indented when you touch or push down on the swollen area
- Vision changes or blurriness
- Severe headache or migraine
- New abdominal pain or trouble breathing
Additionally, contact your maternity care provider if you notice painful, warm swelling in only one leg, which could be a sign of deep vein thrombosis (DVT)—a blood clot in your leg or pelvis.
While most mild swelling is all good and normal during pregnancy, it can be uncomfortable. We hope these tips can help manage your swelling or any related pain! If you have any questions about swelling during your pregnancy, don’t hesitate to call your maternity care provider.
This post was first published on wfmchealth.org.