During pregnancy, the body produces approximately 50% more blood and body fluids to meet the needs of the developing baby.
Inflammation is a normal part of pregnancy that is caused by this excess of blood and fluids.
Normal swelling, which is also known as Edema, is experienced in the hands, face, legs, ankles and feet.
This fluid retention is necessary to soften the body, allowing it to expand as the baby develops.
Excess fluid also helps prepare the joints and pelvic tissues to open at the time of delivery. Additional fluids account for approximately 25% of the weight gain during pregnancy in women.
What are the symptoms of swelling in the feet of a pregnant woman?
When your body swells, your skin seems tight and shiny. You may also feel heat in the inflamed area. Inflammation associated with other symptoms could indicate a condition that could be harmful to you or your baby.
If you press down on the inflamed area and a bleeding remains at the point where you pressed down, the swelling may be the result of a blood clot. Additional symptoms that you should observe include the following:
- Pain when flexing or extending the foot (a sign of a blood clot).
- Red lines through the legs (a sign of infection).
- The weakening of the skin (a sign of a blood clot).
- Inflamed area that appears violet (a sign of poor circulation or diabetes).
Other symptoms may indicate problems such as congestive heart failure or kidney failure. Talk to your doctor about the possible causes of swollen feet.
What causes swelling of the feet in pregnancy?
In most cases, the swelling is due to fluid retention, but it is normal. While you are pregnant, your body produces up to 50 percent more blood and fluids to properly feed your baby.
Other causes may include:
- Preeclampsia o eclampsia.
- The heat or humidity.
- Change of elevation.
- The lack of potassium in your diet.
- Excess salt / sodium in your diet.
- The high consumption of caffeine.
Preeclampsia and eclampsia can be serious problems for pregnant women. Preeclampsia, also called “pregnancy-induced hypertension,” usually occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy. When seizures or coma occur, it is known as eclampsia.
Preeclampsia affects blood pressure, kidney function, and the central nervous system. Generally, symptoms include a significant increase in blood pressure; swelling of the face, hands and feet from very early in the day; and excessive weight gain (more than one pound per week during the last quarter).
More severe cases of preeclampsia cause blurred vision, headaches, irritability and abdominal pain. Urine tests may be needed for an adequate diagnosis.
Preeclampsia is more common among African-Americans, mothers over 40 or 20 years of age, mothers who carry more than one fetus, mothers who are obese before conception and during pregnancy, and those who have a history relatives or previous experience with the condition.
When can swelling occur during pregnancy?
Swelling can be experienced at any time during pregnancy, but it tends to be noticed around the fifth month and may increase while in the third trimester.
Mild swelling is expected during pregnancy; However, if you experience sudden swelling of the hands and face, it could be a sign of preeclampsia. It is important to contact your health care provider about any sudden swelling.
What can you do to treat swelling in the legs?
Inflammation can be reduced by eating foods high in potassium, such as bananas, and avoiding caffeine. Here are some other useful tips to manage swelling during pregnancy:
- Avoid standing for long periods.
- Minimize outdoor time when it’s hot.
- Rest with your feet elevated.
- Wear comfortable shoes, avoid high heels, if possible.
- Wear support socks or stockings.
- Avoid clothing that is tight around the wrists or ankles.
- Rest or swim in a pool.
- Use cold compresses on inflamed areas.
- Drinking water, which helps eliminate body fluids from the body and reduce water retention.
- Minimize the consumption of sodium (salt) and avoid adding more salt to meals.