It is very common for pregnant women to suffer from swelling (oedema) of the feet, hands, ankles and legs in the last three months. By the time you are 32 weeks pregnant your blood volume has increased by up to 50%, contributing to swelling and fluid retention. You may suddenly notice your rings becoming tighter, or your feet may increase considerably in size (a shoe size or more sometimes!). It usually occurs in the evening at the end of a long day, although it may be worse on hot days, or when you have been on your feet for a long period.
Oedema can be a sign of pre-eclampsia so it is important that you monitor it and keep your carer informed. Partners, friends and family may notice swelling quicker than you or your caregiver, so ask them to let you know if this happens. You need to tell your midwife or doctor If oedema is present in the morning as you get out of bed, or you have swelling in your face,. If you have headaches as well as swelling report this as soon as possible to your carer.
- Put your feet up as much as possible. Rest them up on another chair if sitting at a desk.
- Keep legs and feet elevated in the evenings to waist level.
- Rotate and flex your ankles frequently.
- Wear maternity support stockings if you are on your feet a lot during the day. Put them on before you get out of bed.
- Invest in the most comfortable shoes you can. Even after the swelling goes down, some women report a permanent increase in shoe size!
- Take off your rings before they get stuck!
- Make sure you are getting enough lean protein in your diet.
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to keep the kidneys functioning well.
- Drink green tea or lemon juice in warm water.
- Eat lots of foods that are said to be natural diuretics e.g. celery, pineapples and melons.
- Ask your partner for a massage. Massage your legs from the feet upwards.
- Massage your hands from the nails to the bases of the finger, pressing firmly.
- Soaking your feet in cool water, or applying cold packs to your legs and feet can help reduce swelling.