The temperature here in the mid-Atlantic has gone up and so has the size of my extremities. The combination of heat, humidity, and the third trimester have conspired to make me retain water in my hands, feet, and face. My wedding ring has taken up residence on a chain around my neck and I prop my feet up whenever I can to try and convince the fluid not to pool there.
It’s a losing battle, however. Swelling in pregnancy is incredibly common, with 50% of women likely experience it. Your whole body has a lot more fluid moving around to accommodate your greater needs for blood during pregnancy and a little swelling is usually nothing to worry about. Warm weather, spending too much time on your feet, or eating too much salt can add to the issue as well. It’s not pretty and can occasionally get uncomfortable but it’s usually harmless.
Sudden or excessive swelling can be an indication of serious health problems so please talk to your doctor if you experience this or if you have any questions at all about whether your swelling is normal.
I’ve got one of those bodies that will hang on to fluids at the least provocation, even when I’m not pregnant. Put me on a plane, raise the temperature over 70, or let my hormones fluctuate a little bit and POOF! Puffy fingers and ankles. It’s not cute and I don’t enjoy the sensation so I’ve compiled this list of some strategies to minimize the swelling:
1. Drink Plenty of Fluids
Keeping a steady stream of water going into your system will allow your body to flush out the old fluids. You’ll have to pee all the time, but you’d have to do that anyway.My mom tells a story about eating a pickle with her lunch while she was pregnant with me and then watching her ankles blow up over the next hour. Salt makes your body hold onto water, so skip the chips and opt for a less salty snack.
2. Avoid Too Much Salt
My mom tells a story about eating a pickle with her lunch while she was pregnant with me and then watching her ankles blow up over the next hour. Salt makes your body hold onto water, so skip the chips and opt for a less salty snack.
3. Snack on Fruit
Fruit is such an awesome pregnancy snack. With all the vitamins and fiber it helps with overall health and promotes good digestion. And the water in fruit is good for swelling. I’ve been gorging on watermelon and mango lately — perfect cool treats for hot weather!
4. Wear Support Stockings
My affection for the compression stockings I bought earlier in this pregnancy cannot be overstated. Supportive socks or stockings promote good circulation and help reduce ankle bloat.
5. Soak in Epsom Salts
I asked my doctor if she had any suggestions to reduce swelling, and she said soaking my feet in a bath of Epsom salts could help with drawing out excess fluid but she seemed only lukewarm on the idea. I haven’t tried it myself so I can’t vouch for it.
6. Stay Cool
The hot weather is not your friend while you’re pregnant. Stay in the shade or in the A/C if you can and keep time in the heat to a minimum.
7. Sit Down and Put Your Feet Up
Don’t overdo it or stand up too long. Give yourself breaks to sit down and prop up your feet a bit. Drink some water while you’re at it!
8. Get a Foot Rub
Is there any scientific evidence that this will help? No idea, but it’s a good excuse to get your partner to rub your feet! Baby Center suggests a light massage only if your skin isn’t so swollen that touch is painful. Or, better yet, treat yourself to a pedicure.