Swelling During Pregnancy (Edema)

Swelling During Pregnancy (Edema)

What causes it?


During pregnancy, the amount of blood and other fluid in your body increases. This is normal. It may cause your feet, face, and hands to be puffy or swell a little. This is most common during the last three months of pregnancy. About 8 out of 10 women get some swelling when they are pregnant.

What can I do about it?


• Avoid wearing tight clothes or jewelry—for example, avoid elastic waists, knee-high stockings, socks with elastic tops, rings, and tight watchbands.
• Try to gain weight in a slow, steady way.
• Avoid standing for long periods of time.
• Do not sit with your legs crossed.
• Get as much rest as you can.
  • Rest with your feet up many times each day.
  • When you are resting, lie on your left side. This can improve your blood circulation and reduce swelling.
  • Try to reduce your workload.

If you have mild swelling in your legs, ankles, and feet, do this exercise for 10 to 15 minutes, twice a day:
  1. Lie with your head and shoulders propped on pillows.
  2. Keep your knees bent a bit, and put your legs on a chair or sofa, so they are a bit higher than your heart.
  3. Curl your toes under and then make them stand straight up. Repeat this several times.
  4. Make circles with your feet. Repeat this several times.
  5. Tighten and relax the muscles in your upper legs (thighs). Repeat this several times.
• If you have mild swelling in your hands, bend your fingers back and then make them stand straight again. Move your hands in circles.

What if none of this helps?


• Do not take any kind of diuretic (water pills), or other medication unless your doctor says it is okay.
• If you have pins and needles in your hands, especially at night, talk to your doctor or physiotherapist.
• Contact your doctor right away if you have sudden or severe swelling in your hands and face, or if you feel numb in your hands and face.
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