Feeling bloated during pregnancy? While inconvenient and uncomfortable, most forms of swelling—also known as edema—are perfectly normal for expecting mothers.1
Why does swelling occur during pregnancy?
Among the many changes the body goes through during pregnancy is its production and retention of water, blood, plasma, and other fluids to support the needs of the developing fetus.2,3
The swelling supports the mother’s development, as well. Not only does the extra fluid help her body expand to accommodate the baby, it also helps with her body’s necessary changes to prepare for the actual delivery process.1
Most mothers-to-be have swelling in their extremities, as well as in the face.1 Swelling tends to peak during the third trimester, often becoming more noticeable at the end of the day, when extra fluids, blood volume, and the growing baby can affect blood flow in the ankles and feet.4
What other factors affect swelling during pregnancy?
A number of factors in addition to the changes taking place in your body can affect swelling.1 These factors include: 1
While mild swelling is acceptable during pregnancy, a very sudden bout of edema could actually be more concerning.1 Contact your doctor immediately if the swelling is uneven and painful, if it comes on suddenly, or if it is accompanied by shortness of breath or chest pain.5
How can you address swelling during pregnancy?
There are a number of strategies you can leverage to reduce swelling during pregnancy.1, 5-7 You might make a point of:
Dietary tips to reduce swellingThere are also a number of dietary tips that can help to reduce swelling during pregnancy. These include:
Additional therapies to tryIn addition, pregnant women might try to lessen swelling and related symptoms by engaging in therapies like:
You can either ask your partner to gently massage your feet and legs with the essential oil or soak your feet in a bowl of warm water mixed with essential oil.6
While research offers mixed results on the link between reflexology and swelling, some experts believe the practice can minimize the discomfort associated with swelling.8
Interested in scheduling a reflexology session? Be sure to select a registered specialist who has extensive experience treating pregnant women.
Ultimately, there are a number of best practices for reducing swelling during pregnancy.1,5-8 If you still experience swelling after delivering your baby, simply be patient and allow your body time to heal.5 You may still be going through hormonal changes that exacerbate the swelling.5 And of course, feel free to reach out to your healthcare provider at any time if you have questions.
1. American Pregnancy Association Staff. Swelling During Pregnancy. https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/swelling-during-pregnancy/. American Pregnancy Association. Accessed August 13, 2019.
2. Widen et al. Body composition changes in pregnancy: measurement, predictors and outcomes. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014;68(6):643-652.
3. Vricella LK. Emerging understanding and measurement of plasma volume expansion in pregnancy. 2017;106(Suppl 6):1620S-1625S.
4. Tanveer F et al. Frequency of lower extremity edema during 3rd trimester of pregnancy. SAJMS. 2015;1:41-43.
5. UnityPoint Health Staff. Things That Make You Swell When You’re Pregnant.https://www.unitypoint.org/livewell/article.aspx?id=e668bf44-c376-459e-b263-41f48810373a. LiveWell with UnityPoint Health. Accessed August 13, 2019.
6. Baby Centre Medical Advisory Board Staff. Swelling (natural remedies).https://www.babycentre.co.uk/a549316/swelling-natural-remedies. BabyCentre UK. Accessed August 13, 2019.
7. Tobah YB. What causes ankle swelling during pregnancy—and what can I do about it?https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-answers/swelling-during-pregnancy/faq-20058467/. Mayo Clinic. Accessed August 13, 2019.
8. Embong NH et al. Revisiting reflexology: Concept, evidence, current practice, and practitioner training. J Tradit Complement Med. 2015;5(4):197–206.
Join Our Community
Certain persons, considered experts, may disagree with one or more of the foregoing statements, but the same are deemed, nevertheless, to be based on sound and reliable authority. No such statements shall be construed as a claim or representation as to Metagenics products, that they are offered for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of any disease.