Tips to Decrease Swelling and Bloating During Pregnancy

Note: The Pregistry website includes expert reports on more than 2000 medications, 300 diseases, and 150 common exposures during pregnancy and lactation. For the topic Edema, go here. For the topic Swollen Feet, go here. These expert reports are free of charge and can be saved and shared.

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Swelling and bloating always feel awful. The too-tight feeling in clothes, in shoes, and even in your own skin is one that haunts many pregnant women.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, during pregnancy the body produces approximately 50% more blood and body fluids to meet the needs of the developing baby. Swelling is a normal part of pregnancy that is caused by this additional blood and fluid. Normal swelling, which is also called edema, is experienced in the hands, face, legs, ankles, and feet.

The extra retention of fluid is needed to soften the body and enable it to expand as the baby develops, in addition to preparing the pelvic joints and tissues to open for delivery. Edema can start around week 22 to week 27 of pregnancy and will continue until after birth. The extra fluids can actually account for approximately 25% of the weight gain during pregnancy.

Although having edema feels horribly uncomfortable, mild swelling of the ankles and feet caused by edema is harmless and perfectly normal. It’s also just as normal not to experience noticeable swelling (around 25% of pregnant women don’t). However, if your hands or face become puffy or if swelling persists for more than a day at a time (i.e., it doesn’t improve overnight), call your primary health provider. Excessive swelling can be a warning sign of preeclampsia which is accompanied by a variety of other conditions such as high blood pressure and protein in urine.

Edema can start around week 22 to week 27 of pregnancy and will continue until after birth. The extra fluids can actually account for approximately 25% of the weight gain during pregnancy.

In addition, to naturally swelling to accommodate your pregnancy, there are additional potential factors that can also cause an increase in swelling including summertime heat, standing for long periods of time, a diet low in potassium, or a diet high in sodium intake.

While there is little you can do to prevent swelling in totality, there are some steps you can take to minimize the swelling symptoms as much as possible:

  • Avoid standing for long periods of time- this will lead to more pressure in your feet and therefore more swelling.
  • Minimize time spent outdoors when it is hot as it causes more swelling.
  • Rest with your feet elevated.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that are wider than necessary to accommodate your feet if they swell.
  • Wear supportive or compression socks.
  • Avoid clothes that are tight around your extremities.
  • Try and swim or spend time in the water- it will work wonders for your inflammation.
  • Try and drink as much water as possible to help flush the toxins out of your body in addition to staying hydrated.
  • Try to minimize sodium intake.
Shoshi S.
Shoshi is a graduate from Stern College for Women in New York City. Her areas of interest include policy, non-profit organizations, and administration. During winter 2018, she was a White House intern. Shoshi has also interned at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and at Save the Children in New York. As a millennial, Shoshi brings a young and fresh perspective to the worlds of pregnancy and lactation.

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