Swelling During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the body produces approximately 50% more blood and
body fluids to meet the needs of the developing baby.” width=”151″ height=”200″ title=” “></p>
<p>During pregnancy, the body produces approximately 50% more blood
            and body fluids to meet the needs of the developing baby. Swelling
            is a normal part of pregnancy that is caused by this additional blood
            and fluid. Normal swelling, which is also called <em>edema</em>, is
            experienced in the hands, face, legs, ankles, and feet.</p>
<p>This extra retention of fluid is needed to soften the body, which
            enables it to expand as the baby develops. Extra fluid also helps
            prepare the pelvic joints and tissues to open to allow the baby to
            be born. The extra fluids account for approximately 25% of the weight
            women gain during pregnancy.</p>
<h2>When does swelling occur during pregnancy?</h2>
<p>Swelling may be experienced at any point during pregnancy, but it
            tends to be noticed around the fifth month and can increase while
            you are in the third trimester. The following factors may also affect
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  • Standing for long periods of time
  • “Long” days of activity
  • Diet low in potassium
  • High level of caffeine consumption
  • High level of sodium intake
  • Slight swelling is expected during pregnancy; however, if you experience sudden swelling in your hands and your face, it could be a sign of preeclampsia. It is important to contact your health care provider about any sudden swelling.

    What can you do to treat swelling during pregnancy?

    Swelling may be reduced by eating foods that are high in potassium, such as bananas, and by avoiding caffeine. Here are some other helpful hints to manage swelling during your pregnancy:

    • Avoid standing for long periods
    • Minimize outdoor time when it is hot
    • Rest with your feet elevated
    • Wear comfortable shoes, avoiding high heels if possible
    • Wear supportive tights or stockings
    • Avoid clothes that are tight around your wrists or ankles
    • Rest or swim in a pool
    • Use cold compresses on swollen areas
    • Drink water, which helps flush the body and reduce water retention
    • Minimize sodium (salt) intake and avoid adding additional salt to meals
    Last Updated: 03/2007

    Compiled using information from the following sources:

    Mayo Clinic Guide To A Healthy Pregnancy Harms, Roger W., M.D., et al, Part 3.

    Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: The Complete Guide. Simkin, Penny, P.T., et al, Ch. 6.