ATTENTION Kate Middleton, Kim Kardashian, and Mrs. Channing Tatum: Conquer Swelling During Pregnancy
ncy is a wonderful time in a mother’s life. The excitement of a new baby brings on feelings of joy and happiness….but it also brings on bodily changes, such as emotional liability, weight gain, and something very important on which I would like to educate everyone today: swelling, or edema, in the lower extremities.
Swelling in the legs during pregnancy can be caused by many different changes occurring within the human body. First of all, hormones begin spiraling out of control, and the body begins to produce and retain more fluid in general. Furthermore, a growing uterus puts increased pressure on a major vein in the body called the vena cava, which lies on the right side of the body and carries blood from the legs back to the heart. This increased pressure slows the return of blood, causing it to pool. Fluid from within the veins is then forced into the tissues of the legs, feet, and ankles. Thus, it easy to see that as the baby grows, edema worsens. It may be particularly severe for women with excess amniotic fluid or those carrying multiple babies. Edema also tends to be worse at the end of the day and during the summer months. (After reading this, it may be easier to understand whymothersare instructed to lay on their left sides usually starting in the 2nd trimester, rather than on their backs or right sides – to give the vena cava room to expand and allow uninterrupted blood flow back to Mom’s heart and Baby’s placenta.)
In certain cases, edema may be particularly severe or have a sudden onset. This could be a sign of preeclampsia or ecclampsia. Other signs of these potentially life threatening conditions include severe headaches, blurry vision, dizziness, and rapid weight gain. Protein in the urine and high blood pressure are also red flags. Swelling in only one leg with tenderness or cramping in the calf or leg muscles can be a sign of a blood clot, or DVT. All of these conditions require immediate medical attention.
If you are pregnant (or perhaps if you just so happen to be Kate, Kim, or Mrs. Tatum), here are some actions to take to avoid the incredibly uncomfortable phenomenon of excessive swelling during pregnancy:
· Elevate your feet as much as possible.
· Keep your legs uncrossed when sitting.
· Stretch your legs frequently.
· Take a short walk after sitting for a prolonged period of time to prevent blood from pooling in the legs.
· Wear comfortable, stretchy shoes.
· Wear compression stockings, which are currently ON SALE during the month of February at Advanced Foot and Ankle Care for $22.25. (These can also prevent the future formation of varicose veins.)
· Drink plenty of water. Surprisingly, this helps your body retain less water!
· Exercise regularly.
· Eat healthy foods.
So I say to all of the moms-to-be out there: kick back – or should I say kick up – your feet and enjoy this amazing time in your life!
Dr. O’Neill is proud to announce that Baby O’Neill will be coming to you live in June 2013!!