While pregnancy is almost always a joyous time for a woman, it is also notoriously uncomfortable. From the extra weight, to morning sickness, to symptoms like edema, it’s no wonder that most women are ready to have their baby after nine long months! Edema is one of the most common issues that a pregnant woman will experience. There are many effective ways of treating edema during pregnancy. Though the condition itself isn’t necessarily a problem, it can be uncomfortable, and can lead to more serious complications of pregnancy for some women.
What is Edema?
If this is your first pregnancy, or you have just never experienced edema before, you may be unsure of what the condition entails. In simple terms, edema is swelling of the extremities due to water retention. Pregnant women usually experience this swelling in their fingers, legs and ankles. This isn’t necessarily a problem. As your uterus grows, the weight impacts other areas, including the surrounding veins that deal with blood flow. The larger your baby grows, the higher your chance of retaining water and developing edema. Your body is also experiencing an increase in the hormone progesterone, which can contribute as well. In addition, edema can be a sign of a more serious pregnancy complication, known as preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a condition that is related to blood pressure, and this condition can harm your baby. If you have swelling during pregnancy, be sure to carefully watch for signs of preeclampsia and ask your doctor to test you.
Treatment and Prevention
If you know that you are prone to suffer from edema during pregnancy, prevention should be your focus. Your diet is a big part of treating edema during pregnancy. You should be getting enough protein, as well as paying close attention to your sodium intake. Too little sodium in your diet can cause muscle cramping. However, too much can lead to an increase in all forms of edema, including preeclampsia. It is also important that you are drinking enough water on a daily basis. While drinking water may seem like a confusing treatment for water retention, it’s important to understand how your body works. Your kidneys need enough fluid to remove toxins from your body. If there isn’t enough fluid necessary for proper operation, then problems such as edema can occur. For this same reason, taking a water pill is not safe. This can cause excessive fluid to be pulled from areas that need it for essential functions, including your kidneys and also your baby’s own placenta.
There are also other things you can do to minimize the symptoms of edema and be more comfortable during the last months of your pregnancy. First, be aware that hot weather can increase edema and swelling. You should also avoid staying in any one position for long periods of time. If circulation to a specific area is interrupted, swelling will likely be the result. Change positions and move around frequently to reduce swelling. Treating edema during pregnancy can be challenging, but this measure will help. You should also pay attention to the shoes that you are wearing. High heeled shoes, or those that pinch, will increase the swelling of your feet. Wear comfortable and supportive shoes. If you find that your shoes aren’t fitting properly, you may need to wear a size larger for the last months of your pregnancy.
Alternative medicine has also spent many years developing methods that may be effective for treating edema during pregnancy. For example, acupuncture can help circulation function better and eliminate some of the causes for edema. Getting regular massage from a qualified therapist can have many of the same benefits and keep your body functioning at its best, despite the stress of pregnancy. In addition, therapies such as herbs, aromatherapy and homeopathy can assist a pregnant woman in reducing the discomfort of pregnancy induced swelling. Always check with your health practitioner, however, before taking any natural treatment internally. Some herbs may be contraindicated during pregnancy, so practice safety at all times as you address your water retention.
Edema and Preeclampsia
The relationship between edema and preeclampsia is often misunderstood. Many pregnant women are under the impression that swelling and water retention is an inherently dangerous condition to them and their unborn child. This, however, isn’t the case at all. In fact, treating edema during pregnancy is quite normal. Edema is a symptom of preeclampsia; however, having edema doesn’t mean that your child is in danger due to the complication. What it does mean is that you will need to be more carefully monitored to ensure that all your other vital signs are normal and that you haven’t developed blood pressure problems. Many women experience pregnancy induced edema with no complications besides physical discomfort. However, be aware of the possibilities and keep your eye on your condition closely to ensure that it doesn’t become a problem as your pregnancy progresses.