Easing Your Discomfort

Pregnancy does some crazy things to your body. So what if you are swelling in more places than your belly -- like your legs and your feet to the point that your shoes don't fit? Susan Warhus, MD, explains.
Susan Warhus, MD

Pregnancy does some crazy things to your body. So what if you are swelling in more places than your belly -- like your legs and your feet to the point that your shoes don't fit? Susan Warhus, MD, explains.
There is considerably more blood and fluid in your body when you are pregnant than when you are not pregnant. The pregnant uterus also presses against some of your body's major blood vessels, making circulation less efficient. This is usually most noticeable in your arms, hands, feet and legs; however, some women notice an overall puffiness.

Swelling alone is not a worrisome sign, although it can be quite uncomfortable and a nuisance when rings, watches, and shoes no longer fit properly. Some women remove rings to avoid them becoming stuck on their fingers. Many women buy larger shoes or opt for open-toed shoes if practical. Swelling may not be avoided entirely, but here are some ways to assist you in reducing it:

  • Drink lots of water to flush out your system.
  • Add lemon or cucumber to foods as "natural diuretics."
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables and low-salt foods.
  • Avoid standing for long periods.
  • Elevate your feet higher than your heart.
  • Lay on your left or right side, not flat on your back.
  • Enjoy walking or swimming.
  • Avoid fast food, canned foods, frozen foods and cold cuts.

    Over-the-counter water pills or prescription diuretics are not recommended during pregnancy and could actually be harmful to you and the baby.

    In rare cases, your swelling could be associated with a potentially dangerous condition of pregnancy called preeclampsia. Other names for preeclampsia are pretoxemia and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

    Preeclampsia is a form of high blood pressure that is associated with pregnancy and can potentially be harmful to you and your baby. Besides swelling, other symptoms of preeclampsia usually include high blood pressure, headaches, blurry vision and protein in your urine. Your health care provider checks for these symptoms at each of your prenatal visits. However, if you notice increased swelling, headaches or blurry vision in between your scheduled appointments, notify your physician. PregnancyAndBaby.com

  • Tags: swelling


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