Swelling in pregnancy is completely normal, especially towards the end of the second trimester and throughout the third, and it can be uncomfortable. You can manage swelling in pregnancy by making diet changes, staying off of your feet, wearing proper clothing, and staying active. These lifestyle changes can help to reduce swelling and make the final stages of pregnancy as comfortable as possible. If you are experiencing swelling in pregnancy, it is important to bring it up with your doctor, especially if it seems severe or comes on suddenly; significant swelling can be a sign of other health issues.
Drinking plenty of water is not only good for you and your baby, but it can also help to reduce swelling in pregnancy. In order to help your body expand to accommodate your growing baby, and to ready your joints for giving birth, your body produces up to 50% more blood and fluid than normal. This can, and often does, result in the swelling of your hands, legs, feet, ankles, and face. Drinking water helps to keep you hydrated and flush your system of any unnecessary fluid, which can keep swelling in pregnancy to a minimum. It can also be helpful to limit your salt intake because salt forces your body to retain water, which can make swelling even worse.
The fluids in your body follow the laws of gravity. If you're on your feet for a long period of time, gravity will pull fluid down towards your ankles, thus causing them to swell. It is not always easy to avoid standing for long periods, especially if you work in a job that requires it. If you notice your shoes are becoming uncomfortably tight, try to take a break and elevate your feet above your waist for at least ten minutes. This can help in lowering swelling and give you a much needed respite.
Wearing loose fitting, cool clothing can help to make any swelling you are experiencing more tolerable. Too-tight clothes can make the feeling of swelling more noticeable; for some women, it can even make the swelling worse. Support stockings can also take some of the strain off of your lower body, thereby preventing and reducing any swelling of your legs, feet, and ankles. Comfortable, flat shoes can also help to manage any discomfort in your ankles and feet.
Staying active can not only help you have a healthy pregnancy, but also improve your body's circulation, thus reducing swelling. Sleeping on your side can also be helpful; sleeping on your back can cause the baby to put too much pressure on your organs which can increase swelling. The weight of the water and the cool temperature of a pool or bath can also temporarily make you more comfortable. While swelling in pregnancy is a common pregnancy problem, too much swelling could be a sign of preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous complication. Talking to your doctor and coming up with a plan to manage swelling in pregnancy can help to make your last few months much more bearable.