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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Feeling swell? Or just swollen?

Got cankles? Mine haven't started yet, but I had them when I was pregnant the first time with Sam and I remember them vividly. I have recently needed to remove my rings too, which I know is a sign of things to come.

Interesting to note, that swelling in the hands, feet, and face (called edema) is a normal part of late pregnancy because of the additional blood and fluid in the body. ALSO, the body retains water in order to "soften the body" in order to loosen up the joints to allow for safe passage during labor/delivery. That is pretty comforting to me, knowing that the body has a purpose and plan for all that fluid! AND, it accounts for 25% of weight gain for women during pregnancy. So suffice to say, once you have the baby, you will stop retaining all that water and your weight goes down significantly.

So what can we do in the meantime to help you lessen the effects of the swelling and keep it to a minimum?
  • Drink a lot of water to help flush out the fluids! I know it is painful for frequent trips to the ladies room, but it really does help!
  • When you are sitting, put your feet up. And don't cross your legs--it affects circulation!
  • Avoid prolonged sitting and standing (take breaks).
  • Exercise by walking or swimming throughout the day.
  • Avoid too much salt (limit going out to eat or highly processed foods that have a lot of salt). Salt to taste in your own food. No need to avoid it all together.
  • Eat more potassium. Potato skins, sweet potatoes, dried fruit, nuts, grapefruits and citrus (if heartburn not an issue), and bananas (if constipation isn't an issue). This also helps with leg cramps if you have been suffering those as well!
  • Avoid caffeine or other dehydrating beverages.
  • Avoid "long days" of activity. Especially in the warm weather and sun! Take breaks with legs up and drink plenty of fluids!
  • Avoid using tight elastics around ankles and wrists.
  • If it is really bad, try support stockings.
  • Use cold compresses on swollen areas.
If your swelling is really bad, talk to your doctor or midwife. They will also be looking at your blood pressure. If the swelling is really bad and your blood pressure is sky-rocketing, it can be a sign of preeclampsia, which is serious.

I hope this helps ladies. At the end of the pregnancy, all of these minor inconveniences will be part of your distant memory!

In health and wellness,

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