Expecting a baby brings many new and exciting changes to your life. You get to feel your unborn baby move inside of you, you get to see him or her on ultrasound and you get to go shopping for the cutest baby clothes. Some of the changes, however, are not so exciting. As our bodies adapt to carrying a baby, many of us find that we have an increasing problem with water retention. Often this pregnancy symptom will appear during the second trimester and is usually noticed first in the swelling of the fingers or ankles. A woman may notice the swelling when she has difficulty wearing or removing her rings, for example. Puffiness around the ankles may be noticed when shoes seem tight, or socks leave a distinct imprint on the skin. Some women experience this swelling to such a degree that their entire face appears puffy, but this is extreme and should receive medical attention.
Unfortunately, once swelling sets in, it usually continues up until the birth of the baby. Though uncomfortable and sometimes inconvenient, edema with pregnancy is very common and is usually nothing to be concerned about. If you are having a difficult time with swelling during your pregnancy, following a few of these tips should provide you with some relief:
1. Avoid staying on your feet for long periods of time. Too much time standing on your feet, especially in one spot, can intensify the swelling in your ankles. When possible, you should sit with your feet up and shoes and socks off. Aim for twenty minutes of rest for every two hours on your feet. If you work in retail, request a spongy mat or a stool to give you some relief.
2. Watch your salt intake. Eating too much salt greatly increases water retention. Avoid common salty foods such as chips, canned soda and salted nuts.
3. Drink more water. A pregnant woman should consume a gallon of water per day. Though at first this seems overwhelming, it can be made possible by carrying a bottle of water with you during the day. Sip while you’re walking, sitting, folding laundry, doing paper work or talking on the phone. Make drinking water a part of your lifestyle and you will find some relief from your swelling.
4. Make sure to get adequate rest. If you are tired, your discomfort from edema will only seem worse. Though it is sometimes difficult, you must get sufficient sleep each night and aim for thirty minutes a day in which you can lay down.
5. Make exercise a priority. As you spend time working your leg muscles by walking, your circulation will improve. The key is to make sure you do not overdo it. A half hour of walking per day during pregnancy is sufficient.
If following these guidelines does not improve your swelling, make sure to discuss your problem with your doctor.