Swelling during pregnancy: what’s normal and what’s not?
Cankle jokes aside, swelling is one of the most uncomfortable, unpleasant and unwanted side effects of pregnancy.
The sensation of weight and pain in the legs, tight-fitting shoes, and wedding rings becoming too tight to wear are all classic signs of pregnancy swelling. Apart from the usual culprits of feet, ankles and legs, mamas-to-be may also experience swelling in their fingers, hands, arms, and in the face. Attractive eh?
Common causes of swelling in pregnancy:
- Fluid retention
- Compression of the pelvic region
- Multiple pregnancy
- High temperatures
- Excess weight gain
Although swelling is an unfortunate reality of pregnancy, it can be alleviated:
1. Ditch the salt
Try to avoid salt as much as possible - it's not good for you and it makes you retain water. Garlic and lemon are far more beneficial to the body and taste nice to boot.
2. Get active
Although it's tempting to become more sedentary when you're swollen and feeling rubbish, make sure you stay on the move. Doctors and physiotherapists recommend twice-weekly aquarobics in order to improve circulation. Walking for half an hour a day, pregnancy yoga and pilates are all beneficial too.
3. Put your feet up
Keep your legs elevated when you can. Try to lie down with your feet higher than your head for at least an hour - particularly on hotter days or if you have been sitting or standing for a long time.
4. Keep cool
Avoid being out and about for too long in hot temperatures and wear loose-fitting clothing where possible.
Significant swelling, excessive weight gain, tingling of the hands, limited movement of the fingers, and headaches (particularly in the nape of the neck) can indicate a problem that requires urgent medical attention and should not be ignored. If you experience any of these symptoms you should see your doctor as soon as possible as you could be suffering from high blood pressure or kidney problems.