To meet the requirements of a developing fetus, a woman’s body must produce approximately 50% more blood and fluid during pregnancy. Because of the drastic increase in body fluids and blood volume, edema, or swelling, is a normal occurrence during pregnancy. Although edema can occur at any time during a woman’s pregnancy, it is most common during the second and third trimesters. Swelling is commonly referred to as edema. Most women notice swelling in the ankles, feet and occasionally the hands.
There are certain scenarios in which increased swelling can be expected. Women can expect more swelling in the summer months and at the end of the day. Because the summer months trigger an increase in swelling, additional water consumption and a diet that’s lower in sodium is necessary, since sodium can also trigger an increase in swelling. Because swelling is worse after standing for long periods of time, pregnant women are encouraged to take frequent breaks throughout the day to rest their feet.
If you are experiencing edema during pregnancy, it can be
reduced in a variety of ways.
While some swelling is common and shouldn’t be alarming, there are times in which severe swelling or swelling accompanied by additional symptoms could signal a complication. Extreme swelling, sudden swelling of any extremity or facial swelling should be reported to your healthcare provider, as this signals a possible complication, such as preeclampsia. You should also inform your healthcare provider if you notice swelling that is accompanied by redness, pain, warmth or tenderness, as these symptoms may be an indication of a blood clot. In either case, these conditions would need to be evaluated and treated by a medical staff to avoid potential complications.
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