What you need to know about coping with pregnancy swelling.
If your shoes no longer fit and your wedding ring came off long ago, you’re may be dealing with edema, most commonly known as pregnancy swelling. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to reduce the inflammation and keep comfortable until you reach the delivery room.
Where it starts
Thank your burgeoning bump for the sudden swollenness. As the uterus expands, it puts pressure on the veins and in turn impairs circulation. Extra fluid volume combines with the weight of the increasing uterus compression on lower extremity veins, which slows down the pumping of blood as it returns to the heart. As a result, the parts of the body that are farthest away from the heart, including the face, hands, ankles and feet are most likely to be affected and swell.
What you can do
Although you can’t entirely prevent swelling for the next nine months, there are triggers you can avoid that could make it worse: heat and salt. Heat and humidity make the veins expand and draw blood to the extremities. Staying indoors with the air conditioning on or cooling off in a pool are both beneficial. If you’re craving salty foods like pretzels or potato chips, know that sodium causes the body to retain extra fluid, which is the last thing a pregnant lady wants. Make sure to stay hydrated to help flush out excess salt intake, and try to get mild to moderate exercise each day for improved circulation.
If you need additional support, premium compression (or graduated) hosiery and garments like Sigvaris are designed to cover areas vulnerable to swelling and generate better blood flow. As a bonus, Sigvaris apparel may help reduce restless leg syndrome and varicose veins.
Tip: Severe swelling in the hands or feet could be a sign of a dangerous condition known as preeclampsia, or elevated blood pressure during pregnancy. Contact your health care provider right away if you notice sudden swelling or swollenness in only one leg, often accompanied with tenderness or pain, severe headaches, blurred vision or rapid weight gain.