4 Ways to Reduce Pregnancy Swelling

reducing-swelling-during-pregnancy
Image adapted via Flickr/ Nina Matthews Photography

There are a lot of unfair symptoms we get during pregnancy. From nausea and vomiting, to skin changes and food problems, it seems the hormones and ongoing changes really hit our bodies hard. While they're to be expected, it doesn't mean all these changes are easy, and finding ways to cope — even for just a little while — can go a long way in helping us enjoy and bond during our pregnancies.

When I am pregnant, not only do I get the above mentioned symptoms, but I also get a lot of pregnancy swelling. My face gets puffier, my hands start to retain water, and it really does a number to the size of my ankles and feet. It's not just an aesthetic problem — swelling in the feet, ankles, and hands I found to be particularly painful — and I was willing to do whatever I could to help reduce the swelling.

{ MORE: 5 Common Pregnancy Symptoms Rarely Discussed }

There are many different reasons for swelling to occur. Swelling could be from normal pregnancy stuff, or it could be a warning that something more dangerous could be going on. Also, there are many different ways you can help relieve swelling during pregnancy for health, comfort, and aesthetic reasons.

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Image adapted via Flickr/ Karolina vslo

1. Reduce the time spent on your feet

If you work at a job that requires you to be on your feet a lot, you'll probably find that by the end of the day your ankles and feet look a lot bigger than they did when you woke up. According to March of Dimes, the swelling in your feet is a result of all that extra fluid your body makes in preparation for labor and birth. Add to that, the extra pressure of your growing uterus and the slowdown of your body for moving fluid around,  and gravity can take its toll, which is why you'll often notice the most swelling where gravity puts it — your feet and ankles. Putting your feet up (above your head using pillows) or even just lying down flat can help redistribute some of that fluid and relieve the swelling in your ankles and feet. That's why after a long day of standing on your feet at work your shoes probably don't come off with as much ease. It wouldn't be a bad idea, if your swelling is painful, to ask for some modified duties (like extra sitting time) while you're at work.

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Image adapted via Flickr/ Anika Malone

2. Drink more water

Okay, I know that it sounds like totally backwards to drink more water. You're probably thinking I am pulling a trick on you to see how big your ankles can really get, but it will help — just ask the American Pregnancy Association. By increasing your fluid intake, you're also increasing how much fluid your body flushes out of your system, thus reducing your swelling. Be sure to pay special attention to how much you're drinking if you're still vomiting from “morning” sickness, if it's a hot day, or if you've been exercising and sweating more than you typically would, as you need additional liquids in those instances.

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Image adapted via Flickr/ rob_obrien

3. Change up your diet

While a moderate amount of salt in your diet is totally safe during pregnancy, if you've been finishing off a jar of pickles in record time each week, or craving other foods high in sodium, cutting back may help reduce your swelling. According to What to Expect, while low-sodium diets used to be the recommendation of doctors to pregnant women, that's no longer the case. However, if you're finding you are swelling a lot more and you've been having more than your fair share of sodium, pairing a lower-sodium diet with other tips like increasing your water intake can really help.

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Image adapted via Flickr/ ::coco Rina::

4. Use compression stockings

I know what you're thinking — compression stockings are those ugly socks that only older people wear — but don't let that myth keep you and your feet from feeling comfortable. The compression the stockings give your calves, ankles, and feet can relieve the pain from the added swelling as well as keep the swelling at bay. There are some really awesome stockings available that don't look like your regular ol' compression stockings so you can enjoy your comfort without anyone thinking twice about your sock choice. I swore by (and still wear) compression stockings from VIM & VIGR which come in a variety of fashionable patterns and they really do work at reducing swelling and increasing comfort.

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When to talk to your doctor: If you notice sudden and severe swelling at any time during pregnancy affecting your feet, ankles, hands, and/or face — you need to talk to your doctor right away. According to WebMD, this can be a symptom of a very serious medical concern during pregnancy called Preeclampsia. Preeclampsia can be a very dangerous — potentially deadly — condition for you and your unborn baby,and it comes with other symptoms including high blood pressure, sudden weight gain, and severe headaches.

:: Have you dealt with swelling during pregnancy? What tricks and tips have worked for you to increase your comfort? Share in the comments! ::

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4 Ways to Reduce Pregnancy Swelling

Devan McGuinness is the founder of the online resource Unspoken Grief, which is dedicated to breaking the silence of perinatal grief for those directly and indirectly affected by miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. Using her own experience of surviving 12 miscarriages, Devan has been actively supporting and encouraging others who are wading through the challenges associated with perinatal and neonatal loss. Winner of the 2012 Bloganthropy Award and named one of Babble's “25 bloggers wh ... More

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