Swelling during pregnancy can occur at any time, but most new mothers begin to notice increased swelling by the fifth month. This normal swelling, called edema, can also increase during the third trimester and is experienced primarily in the feet, ankles, legs, hands, and face.
What causes swelling?
When you are pregnant, your body produces about 50% more blood and body fluids to support the growth of your developing baby. This extra water retention also helps your body expand as your baby grows and requires more room. It even helps prepare your body for birth by preparing your pelvic joint and tissues for delivery.
Swelling can be aggravated by daily routines that require long periods of standing, high levels of caffeine or salt, low levels of potassium, and heat.
How can swelling be reduced?
1. Avoid standing for long periods of time, if possible. At the very least, try to include breaks in which you can elevate your feet 6-12 inches above your heart for at least 15-20 minutes.
2. Avoid beverages that are high in caffeine.
3. Avoid foods that are high in sodium.
4. Eat foods high in potassium such as bananas.
5. Don't forget your prenatal vitamins!
6. Drink plenty of water.
7. Avoid spending a lot of time outdoors in hot weather.
8. Wear comfortable shoes that provide arch support and adequate room for your feet, which will swell throughout the day.
9. Ice swollen areas (such as your ankles).
10. Wear thigh-high support hose or stockings.