At some point during pregnancy, practically every woman will experience edema. Edema is a scary-sounding word that, simply defined, means swelling. A pregnant woman’s body creates extra blood to nourish the baby, and as added fluid accumulates in her blood vessels, it makes sense that some would seep into the tissues causing her legs and ankles to become puffy. Gravity pulls those excess fluids down inside the body to the lower extremities, as the forward weight of pregnancy can bear down, slowing the flow of circulation back to her heart.
There are some simple, effective ways to help reduce the ache and discomfort of edema.
- Prop your feet up — You can fight the effects of gravity on edema by placing your feet and legs at an incline. This forces those extra fluids back into circulation.
- Move around — Extended periods of inaction can cause excess fluids to “pool up” in the feet. Exercise regularly and safely, as recommended by your health professional.
- Drink water — Water helps flush out your body and carries nutrients to your baby.
- Watch your caffeine — A high level of caffeine consumption can be dangerous.
- Wear a maternity support belt — Pregnancy belly bands, sold by It’s You Babe, gently lift the weight of the baby without pulling down on the shoulders. This takes some of the pressure off the legs, helping to ease swelling.
- If you have puffiness in your face and hands that does not go away, check it out with your health professional.
Edema usually disappears after birth, as the body rids itself of the fluid it no longer needs. But there’s no need to suffer needlessly. Use these tips to make you feel better.