How can I handle edema during pregnancy?

Why are pregnant women prone to have edema?

Estrogen levels rise rapidly after a woman gets pregnant. As a result, more water will be retained in the body. When the water accumulates to a level that causes recognizable changes in the appearance of her body, we call it edema. According to statistics, 8 in 10 pregnant women suffer from edema of varying degrees. Edema is most apparent at the later stage of pregnancy, mainly because of the growing uterus, which leads to compression of the large veins of lower extremities. Blood circulation slows down and water accumulates on the top of the feet, ankles, calves, thighs and even labia majora. This kind of physiological edema does not have negative impact on the physical health of the pregnant woman and her baby. Don’t worry as you will recover soon after giving birth without any treatment.

Under what conditions should we pay special attention?

When edema is found to worsen suddenly within a few days or other symptoms like puffiness around your eyes, swollen face, headache, blurred vision, calf pain or breathing difficulty has developed, medical advice should be sought as soon as possible.

What can I do to reduce the edema?

You can start from daily habits. You may reduce the edema by the following ways:

  1. Change your posture from time to time. Don’t sit, stand or walk for too long.
  2. You can also stretch your legs regularly.
  3. While sitting: Rest your legs on a low stool and do not cross your legs.
  4. Before sleeping: Put a pillow under your lower legs and move your legs up, down and sideward repeatedly.
  5. While sleeping: Try to sleep on the left side.
  6. Wear comfortable and flexible socks and shoes.
  7. Have a balanced diet.
  8. Drink adequate water. Beware not to deliberately drink less water.