Do your legs feel swollen, puffy or heavy? This could be attributed to the fact that during pregnancy, you are likely to produce 50 percent more blood and fluids to meet the needs of your growing baby.(2) 50% seems like a lot-so let’s take a look further at what’s happening in our body at this time.
If it’s hot or we’re a little dehydrated and our body needs more fluid to stay cool, it communicates with our kidneys to process body fluids by shifting fluids back into the bloodstream or eliminating what it doesn’t need by leaving the body through urine production. If it’s hot for a while, our body might decide that in addition to providing our body with the fluids it needs, it’s going to store a little for later. Hands and feet store the fluids and this fluid retention is what makes your feet, ankles and hands swell. Edema is the medical term for swelling and it is completely normal- it just might get a little uncomfortable by the end of the day. Swelling is a sign that your body is doing its job in the pregnancy but there are ways to decrease the swelling and increase your comfort.
Here are 5 ways to decrease swelling:
- Get moving! Exercise is one of the best ways to get your blood circulating and help move the fluids that have pooled at your feet. This can mean a 30 minute walk, swimming or some interval resistance training. Walking helps by pumping and contracting of your leg muscles helps squeeze water out of your tissues. Second, the increased circulation caused by your elevated heart rate helps flush that fluid away.(1)
- Drink lots of water. Drinking more water will actually help you flush out the toxins and accumulate less fluid. Aim for half your body weight in ounces, more if you will be working out.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Make sure your shoes are roomy enough so that it can accommodate swelling throughout the day without constricting your feet. However, do remember to make sure your shoes are supportive enough for those looser ankles due to the increase of the hormone relaxin in your body. This loosens the joints.
- Avoid too much salt. You don’t need to restrict salt completely, but should make sure that you aren’t overdoing it- like frequently heading to the drive thru of the nearest fast food restaurant!
- Elevate your feet. If you have the opportunity, try to lift your legs and relax frequently throughout the day.
Although swelling might be a little uncomfortable, it is completely normal. Should you have any other symptoms or something doesn’t feel right, contact your doctor immediately. For more exercise tips through your healthy pregnancy, contact us!
- ”Exercises to Reduce Edema in Pregnancy”. Accessed 11,April 2016. Livestrong.com. http://www.livestrong.com/article/380894-exercises-to-reduce-edema-in-pregnancy/
- “Easing Swollen Feet During Pregnancy”. Accessed 11, April 2016 Everyday Health. http://www.everydayhealth.com/pregnancy/third-trimester/feeling-salty.aspx