Swelling in Pregnancy: Tips and Advice

Swelling can be a regular part of a low-risk pregnancy but can also be a sign of concern. In this article, we will discuss what normal swelling in pregnancy looks like, how to manage pregnancy swelling, and when to call your care provider. My main advice for any type of swelling is to let your care provider know. The more your provider knows about what is going on in your pregnancy, the better they can help keep you safe.
Normal pregnancy swelling most commonly occurs in your legs, ankles, feet, and fingers. This swelling most commonly worsens at the end of the day or when you have been sitting or standing for long periods. The swelling can also get triggered by a hot day or less water intake than needed. Often the swelling comes on gradually, and although it can feel extremely uncomfortable, it usually is not a sign of a problem. Normal swelling in pregnancy is caused by your body retaining more water than usual, as well as the pressure of your growing uterus affecting the blood flow to your legs, ankles, and feet.
Although there are things that you can do to try and lessen or avoid the swelling, there are times when nothing can be done to prevent the swelling. All of the tips given in this article are simply that, tips. There is no guarantee they will work for your body during this pregnancy, but you can always try to see if something impacts you. 
To help reduce swelling, you could try not to sit or stand for too long of periods. This could look like setting reminders on your phone to stand throughout your workday, taking breaks while cleaning the house, and utilizing the bench at your local park. 
Another idea is to wear comfortable socks and shoes that are not too tight. Sometimes if your shoes or socks are too tight, they can pinch if your feet swell. Elevate your feet! It would be best to do this as often as you can throughout your day, but doing it at the end of the night before going to bed can feel excellent. 
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Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Even though this swelling is caused by your body retaining more water than usual, hydration helps. The extra fluids help push out the retained water and reduce swelling. 
Massages from a partner(s) or professional can help with swelling during pregnancy. Asking your partner(s) to massage your feet can also help with bonding and communication, two great additions for prepping for childbirth. 
Lastly, give a foot soak a try! Add Epsom salts to warm water and let your feet soak for fifteen minutes. These foot soaks might bring down swelling and can help ease aching feet.
These tips are great, but when do you call your care provider? 
As I recommended above, I believe the best practice is to let your care provider know if you are experiencing any swelling throughout your pregnancy. Usually, this is a question they will ask you anyways, and it is great to be transparent in your care. 
Some warning signs that you should contact your care provider immediately, even if you don’t have an appointment, would be: 
  • If there is swelling at the beginning of your day or swelling that doesn’t go away with rest. 
  • A rapid onset of swelling in your face or hands. Even if it is not rapid, swelling in your face or hands would be a good reason to call your care provider. 
  • An increase of swelling or more swelling than you have had before is another good reason to contact your care provider. 
Another concern is swelling that is combined with visual disturbances or a headache that won’t go away. Lastly, you are the professional of your body, and your intuition knows best. If your swelling feels off to you, it doesn’t hurt to give your care provider a call. They may be professionals in pregnancy in general, but you are the professional of your pregnancy.
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