Pregnancy and Edema - FamilyEducation

What Is Edema?

Learn about edema and find tips to help ease your discomfort and bloated appearance.

Baby Talk

Edema is swelling caused by an excess buildup of fluid in body tissues.

Hey Mom!

If your rings get stuck because of swollen fingers, don't try to remove them until the morning. That's when there's the least amount of swelling. After you get them off, keep them off!

As if adding layers of fat all over your body weren't bad enough, your body might also begin to look bloated as it retains fluids during pregnancy. This excess water buildup can cause swelling called edema. It is most commonly noticeable in the ankles, feet, and legs, but you might also find that your rings are fitting tighter. Edema will be most obvious late in the day, in warm weather, or after standing or sitting for a long time. Remarkably, the swelling usually disappears overnight or after lying down for a few hours.

Try these tricks to help ease the discomfort and bloated appearance of edema:

  • When sitting down, prop your feet up on some type of ottoman.
  • Wear loose-fitting shoes. (If your feet really swell, stick to slippers.)
  • Avoid knee-high stockings that cut into your calves.
  • When you sit, don't cross your legs.
  • Use support pantyhose. Put them on before you get out of bed in the morning when there is little swelling.
  • Drink lots of water! This might seem like a contradiction because an excess of fluid is causing this problem, but it's true. Water will flush out the waste products that are sitting around your body and causing the swelling.
  • Don't overdo it on the salt. Although it's not necessary to cut out salt completely, take it easy. Too much salt encourages fluid retention and can add to the problem. (Don't forget that there's plenty of salt hidden in foods and condiments, such as ketchup, bacon, pickles, chips, and fast foods.)
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