Such a wonderful and exciting time as pregnancy often causes various unpleasant symptoms, including leg swelling or edema in other words. You can rarely avoid them, but you can relieve the symptoms and improve the state of the legs even without medicines. There’s an explanation why ankle swelling is an often phenomenon. But first, you must understand whether you really have swelling or you just gained some weight.
How to determine whether your legs are swollen
In most cases, you can determine that on your own. The first sign you should always pay attention to is difficulty inserting your feet into the shoes. If an ankle diameter has grown bigger than 1 cm, it is also a clear sign of edema.
Your wedding ring can be another sign. You can hardly remove it from the swollen hands.
Another reliable way to determine swelling is a regular weighing. You can think of edema if you gain more than 300 g a week or gain weight irregularly.
Possible causes of leg swelling
The reasons can be very different. Swelling is directly connected with your weight gain, as well as with violation in exchange of bodily fluids. Most often simply hormonal changes result in a physiological edema. However cardiac or renal insufficiency can also cause swelling. And if an expectant mother does not have any kidney or heart diseases, ankle will start swelling only during the second half of pregnancy.
Hands, stomach, and face also get swollen and usually after the legs do. Generally, the state of your body is better in the morning, but by the evening the liquid is accumulated in your feet again.
Moreover ankle swelling during the last months of pregnancy is the first sign of late toxicosis. More often than not a woman faces edema at the end or in the middle of her pregnancy, and rarely during the first trimester.
You should understand that ankle swelling during pregnancy is not necessarily a pathology. The fact is that a pregnant woman’s body accumulates sodium that draws water; the fluid is retained and results in swelling. When a pregnant woman eats salty and fried food, this process can be aggravated, and the ankles will get more swollen. But, in fact, such swelling is natural and poses no any risk to her health. In this case, it is enough to lie on a side, to relax, to drink some diuretic tea and limit the amount of salt in your meals.
Ankle swelling during pregnancy is considered to be a complication when a woman begins to gain more weight than she should. Swelling grows bigger moving to the hands, face and back. This condition is called “preeclampsia” and requires strict medical monitoring and hospitalization in some cases.
If your nose gets swollen resulting in a runny nose, don’t worry and don’t try to use special medications for a runny nose – they can narrow vessels of your baby’s placenta and umbilical cord. Just rinse your nose with salty water regularly.
If you have any other swelling in your body, first of all don’t worry and consult your doctor. More often than not everything gets normal after your child is born.
If the preeclampsia is severe, ankle swelling during pregnancy may be accompanied by high blood pressure, appearance of protein in the urine and cause harm to the expectant mother and the fetus.
How can swelling be dangerous?
Swelling is seldom dangerous. However internal abdomen swelling can cause harm to the fetus. The fact is that mainly muscular tissues swell including uterus, placenta, and the abdominal wall. Swollen placenta can pinch the blood vessels of the umbilical cord and a baby lacks oxygen.
How to treat leg swelling during pregnancy?
An expectant mother can often prevent swelling when sticking to a special pregnancy diet. However, if a pregnant woman has some cardiac or renal insufficiency that caused ankle swelling, a doctor then must help her deal with it. If swelling occurred naturally she should first pay attention to the amount of fluids she consumes: usually 1,5-2 l a day are enough. These include various drinks, soups, and fruits. If the consumption of such amount doesn’t cause severe and disturbing swelling, it means that consumption and release of water is balanced in a woman’s body. If not, you should reduce the amount of liquids up to 1 liter, but no less in any case. You should refuse first of all coffee and tea.
But reduction only of liquids is not enough; you need to decrease your salt intake, which retains water in the body, and sodium is contained in such a mandatory element of any menu as an ordinary salt. A pregnant woman should avoid salty and sour foods and, if possible, to add less salt than usually to the meals she cooks for herself. According to the Department of Health you should intake 2.4 g (about a teaspoon) of sodium daily.
In some cases, you can drink diuretics, but only having talked to you doctor because, beside water, they flush sodium out of your body that can cause high blood pressure. Intake of diuretics is especially contraindicated if a woman suffers from preeclampsia.
A cushion under your feet during sleep helps decrease the development of edema during pregnancy, as well as comfortable shoes and rest. All these measures can be taken only in the case swelling wasn’t caused by cardiac or renal insufficiency. Otherwise, ankle swelling during pregnancy requires immediate medical treatment and ongoing monitoring.
Prevention of leg swelling
You should begin to prevent ankle and feet swelling during pregnancy in time. Above mentioned diet and control of fluid intake will be a great help. Moreover, regular physical activity can help you greatly to avoid swelling at any stage of pregnancy. Of course, no one says that you should workout during the last weeks of pregnancy with your legs swollen, but elementary walks outdoors are available for everyone.
Do not forget to strengthen the walls of blood vessels. However, before taking any medication, be sure to consult your doctor whether they are safe for you and your child.
And finally I would like to remind that swelling is safe in most cases. However, this is not a reason to ignore them. In any case, you must consult your doctor and make sure you have no any abnormalities. And remember, whatever you’d have to face, everything is fixable.