During pregnancy your body produces more blood and body fluids to support the growth and development of the baby. This extra fluid can collect in your legs and ankles, hands and finger, particularly in the third trimester. Swollen hands and feet, also known as edema, can be a common occurrence during pregnancy and in most cases, it is not a cause for concern. However, if the swelling is severe, accompanied by other symptoms or persists for an extended period of time, it is important to consult a healthcare provider.
Other factors that can contribute to swelling during pregnancy include hormonal changes that affect the circulatory system and increased pressure on the veins in the lower body.
To help reduce swelling, you can take a number of self-care measures, including:
- Elevating the feet and legs whenever possible – Elevating your feet for 20 minutes at a time, three to four times a day will do wonders for your swollen feet! Use cushions to prop your feet up just slightly above the level of your heart. This will ensure that the blood and fluid return to your heart—relieving the swelling in your lower extremities.02
- Drinking plenty of water – This may seem conflicting, but the fact is drinking plenty of water helps your body get rid of excess water. If your body is dehydrated, it will compensate by holding on to even more fluids. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day helps your system flush out excess sodium and fluid throughout your body.
- Wearing comfortable, supportive shoes – The legs and feet may become swollen, making shoes tight, and in some cases causing pain and discomfort. Wear shoes that are soft, comfortable and give your feet room to move. Ditch your heels for now and wear comfortable shoes, and don’t stand on your feet for long periods of time without moving.
- Avoiding tight clothing – Wearing tight clothing, especially around your wrists, waist, and ankles, can make swelling worse. Try to wear loose, comfortable clothes. Aside from feeling uncomfortable, constricting garments also can lead to a host of health issues, such as pain, reduced blood circulation.
- Doing gentle exercise – Exercise is one of the best ways to get your blood circulating and help move the fluids that have accumulated at your feet. Regular and simple exercise like swimming and walking can help reduce with fluid retention and swelling.
- Taking breaks – Avoid long periods of standing or sitting. If you’re on your feet a lot, take breaks and have a seat. If you’re sitting down a lot, take a 5-minute stroll at least once an hour.
- Limit salt intake – Swelling of the face, hands, legs, ankles and feet is already a very common pregnancy symptom. But overdoing the salt in your diet during pregnancy could exacerbate edema manifold. Avoid processed and pre-packaged foods that are high in sodium and trans-fat, which can lead to swelling.
In summary, while swollen hands and feet during pregnancy are often normal, it is important to monitor the severity and any accompanying symptoms and consult a healthcare provider if there are any concerns. Sudden swelling of feet and an increase in swelling above ankles, especially when the swelling does not reduce on elevating your feet is a sign to inform your doctor as soon as possible.