Water Retention or Edema: How to Reduce Swelling During Pregnancy
Fitterfly - Team Nutrition
- Posted On July 30, 2019
Swollen feet due to water retention or edema is common after the 20th week of pregnancy. While swollen feet or ankles may be common as the pregnancy advances, if you notice any swelling in the early stages or find that your hands are swollen or your face is swollen, you need to get in touch with your doctor.
Typically, water retention is associated with excess salt intake. However, during pregnancy it is not advised to reduce sodium intake (unless there is a medical cause), but excess sodium can definitely be avoided.
Extra sodium usually comes from packaged foods like ready to eat vegetables, sauces, instant and microwaveable foods like noodles and popcorn, frozen veggies paranthas, fried foods, papads, pickles etc. Some of these foods also contain excess sugar and preservatives. Biscuits, chips, bakery items (khari, cup cakes etc.) packaged roasted and salted nuts are some other hidden sources of sodium. Eliminating these foods from your diet will go a long way in preventing excess sodium related water retention.
However, swelling in your feet during pregnancy may also be due to hormones and the increasing size of the uterus which slows down the flow of the blood back from the feet to the heart.
Complications such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes are at times responsible for aggravating this condition.
Some other causes and ways to alleviate swollen feet during pregnancy according to the expert dietitians at the Fitterfly Pregnancy Nutrition Program:
- Protein deficiency is one of the causes of edema so your dietitian can analyse your diet and recommend a meal plan that addresses protein deficiency, if that is a cause.
- Sitting for long on a chair with feet dangling or even standing for a long period can cause water retention. It is best to keep your feet up on a low stool or pillow to assist backflow of blood towards the heart. Use a cold compress for relief.
- Drinking adequate water all through during the day allows the body to stay better hydrated than drinking a whole bottle at one go. You can also eat hydrating foods like watermelon, lettuce and cucumbers. Excessive intake of liquids like coconut water, jaljeera, juice concentrates are not recommended. Drinking a glass and a half of coconut water is sufficient, you don’t need to replace regular water with coconut water.
- Lying on the left side helps as does resting often with your feet raised over a pillow support.
- Wear loose clothing and avoid tight footwear.
- Eating a balanced diet is important throughout pregnancy but more so to ensure your sodium, potassium and magnesium levels are maintained properly. Eat legumes, whole grains, leafy vegetables, foods rich in anti-oxidants like fruits and vegetables. Avoid refined carbs and trans fats in baked and processed foods.
- If the pregnancy is progressing normally and there is proper weight gain, then some amount of swelling is usually considered normal.
When to worry about swelling in pregnancy:
- Only one leg is swollen
- There is a spike in blood pressure
- You have some injury or another underlying cause like DVT
- There is sudden swelling
- Swelling in hands &/or face
- Feet are swollen in early pregnancy
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