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Pregnancy, Explained: Why Am I So Swollen?


Photo Credit: @stellasimona

Swelling can be common in pregnancy, especially during the third trimester in your final push. During pregnancy, blood and bodily fluids increase by almost 50 percent.1 This extra fluid and the pressure of a growing baby on your body’s circulation can result in swelling, which women most commonly experience in their hands and feet. To help manage and provide some much-needed relief, here are six ways to combat swelling.

Increase Circulation with Exercise

Continue to stay active to promote circulation. Swimming is a great exercise that can be especially helpful for swelling. There are even pregnancy-safe variations of yoga poses that elevate your legs by putting them up a wall. These can be fabulous too when done nightly.

Try Compression Socks

If your swelling is bothersome, consider compression socks. They apply gentle pressure to increase blood flow, circulation, and to ultimately soothe your sore toes. I particularly recommend these if you’re flying or have a job that requires prolonged standing or time on your feet.

Draw a Bath

If you have a bathtub at home, draw a bath with Epsom salts. The practice can be incredibly soothing and the Epsom salts add magnesium to warm water to relieve swelling and inflammation.2

Check Your Diet

Increase potassium-rich foods like avocado, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, and banana. And decrease foods processed with sodium, which includes most fast foods, canned foods, and chips. Also, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and minimizing your caffeine intake.

Treat Yourself to Acupuncture and Massages 

Bodywork is critical throughout pregnancy to help the body adapt to all the work it is doing. Both acupuncture and massage therapy can help support circulation and decrease discomfort, just be sure to work with someone who specializes in prenatal care. 

Don’t Forget About Rest

Swelling is often worse when you’re on your feet for prolonged periods of time and in warmer weather. Be sure to take time for breaks and elevate your legs. Remember how much work your body is doing to make an entirely new human from scratch. It’s so important to embrace rest.

When It’s More Than Swelling

While most swelling is normal, it can be a symptom of preeclampsia, which is a significant complication. If you are experiencing any swelling that seems concerning, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider or get urgent care if you notice any headaches, vision changes, or abdominal pain.3

Are you experiencing swelling? Share your story by joining the Perelel community on social and by subscribing to our newsletter.

Swelling during pregnancy | American pregnancy association. Americanpregnancy.org.

2 7 things you probably didn’t know about Epsom salt. Clevelandclinic.org. July 2018.
3
Preeclampsia - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic. Mayoclinic.org.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Perelel.