Dealing with edema during pregnancy

Edema is a medical condition characterized by the accumulation of fluid within the tissues. During pregnancy, the body produces more fluids and blood for the development of the baby. It results to edema which is common in pregnant women. Excess water and fluid build up in the face, hands, legs, ankles and feet and cause painful swelling.

Treatment

  • Avoid standing or sitting with feet flat on the ground for long periods of time since it increases the severity of the condition due to the increased pressure on the veins and delays the flow of blood to the heart. If there is a need to stand, take a break by sitting and rotate the feet and ankles for proper circulation of the fluid. Wear comfortable shoes during pregnancy and avoid shoes that are too tight and high heels to prevent further damage.
    Edema

    Apply a cold compress on the swollen areas for at least 10-15 minutes once every 2 hours.

  • Elevate the legs when resting to lessen the buildup of fluids and increase the circulation of blood in the area. Raise the legs using a couple of pillows to keep it elevated above the level of the heart.
  • Wear the prescribed compression tights or socks for proper blood circulation and flow of fluids in the affected area and lessen the edema. Depending on the severity of the condition, it is recommended to purchase different pressures of stockings from light to strong.
  • Apply a cold compress on the swollen areas for at least 10-15 minutes once every 2 hours. Cold temperature lessens the flow of blood and swelling.
  • Wear loose comfortable clothing to lessen the discomfort and the risk of constricting movements. Wear cool and smooth textured clothing such as cotton or merino wool to prevent overheating and sweating which can worsen edema.
  • Massage the affected areas in movements toward the heart to increase circulation of fluids back into the heart.
  • Sleep in a cool and comfortable environment. If possible sleep on the left side to minimize the pressure placed on the inferior vena cava.
  • Avoid going outdoors during hot weather. Minimize exposure to sun and hot weather to prevent worsening of edema.
  • Cool down the body by taking a swim or resting in a pool or other body of water to lessen the pressure on the joints and prevent swelling. Swimming increases circulation of blood and fluid in the body.
  • Perform cardiovascular exercises for proper circulation and flushing out excess fluids. Seek the help of the physical therapist for some physical activities to minimize edema. Perform at least 30 minutes of exercises every day.

Tips

  • Minimize consumption of sodium and potassium-rich foods such as bananas, oranges, sweet potatoes, beets and apricots.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to flush out excess fluid.
  • Have a regular bowel movement to flush out excess sodium and water from the body.

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