Swelling during Pregnancy

If it is your first experience of having a swelling during pregnancy, it could be worrying. But know that swelling of feet and ankles during pregnancy is normal and does not indicate a pregnancy complication unless it is a sign of preeclampsia. Check what causes swelling during pregnancy and how to handle it.

Last Updated: 22 October 2020

Swelling during Pregnancy
Swelling during Pregnancy

As your pregnancy progresses, when you look down at your feet, it may appear swollen and abnormal. Swollen feet and ankles during pregnancy are common. For most pregnant women, swelling in pregnancy begins in the late second trimester and gets larger in the third trimester. It will disappear on its own after the baby is born.

What causes swelling in pregnancy?

During pregnancy the total blood volume in your body increases by 50%. This increased circulation of blood is essential to nourish your growing baby. And, as a result, the extra fluids get accumulated in some parts of your body, mostly in the feet. If your routine involves standing for long hours, you are likely to experience increased swelling during pregnancy.

Also, your expanding uterus tends to add pressure on the veins that carry blood from your legs back to the heart. This may lead to a mild blockage in the flow of blood from the legs resulting in fluid retention on the feet and ankles.

Pregnancy hormones play a part in retaining blood in your extremities. The effect of hormones on the walls of your blood vessels is one of the reasons for swelling during pregnancy.

What are the benefits and complications of swelling during pregnancy?

Swollen feet and ankles pose absolutely no threat to your pregnancy, unless it is a sign of preeclampsia which you can read about further down this page. However, it can feel strange and uncomfortable to many pregnant women. There can be heaviness on the feet while walking and it can get uncomfortable to get into your old pair of shoes.

On the other hand, fluid collection helps to open up your pelvic joints in preparation for labor.

How to soothe your swollen feet?

While swelling during pregnancy cannot be prevented or largely reduced, you can try the following to handle it:

·         Avoid standing for long hours. If your daily routine or work demands standing for long, take intermittent breaks to rest your feet.

·         When you rest, keep your feet up. Use props like a pillow under your feet.

·         Have a balanced diet which includes enough minerals and vitamins to take care of your pregnancy nutritional needs. Increase potassium intake in your diet and cut down on the sodium levels.

·         Do mild to moderate exercises for proper circulation of blood.

·         Avoid long exposure to heat, especially during the summer. Dehydration can make swelling during pregnancy worse.

·         Avoid other factors that can cause dehydration like excessive coffee intake and alcohol.

How to identify swelling during pregnancy as a sign of preeclampsia?

Though swollen feet and ankles is common during pregnancy, abnormal swelling of face, eyes and hands could be a sign of preeclampsia. The following symptoms along with swelling are an alert to consult a doctor immediately.

·         High blood pressure during pregnancy is a classic symptom of preeclampsia.

·         Weight gain is normal during pregnancy. But a sudden weight gain over 1 or 2 days is not normal. Preeclampsia can cause a sudden increase in body fluids, and thereby increasing your weight out of the blue.

·         Other symptoms can include blurry vision, pain in the abdomen, headaches and light-headedness.

 

Swelling during pregnancy isn’t painful or uncomfortable, but perhaps, you may want to slow down your pace. A few days post delivery, they will disappear. So, momma, love your feet anyways; dwell in a pedicure session and carry your swollen feet as yet another pregnancy possession.

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