Fluid retention during pregnancy: here's what you need to know!

Fluid retention during pregnancy: here's what you need to know!

Yet another ailment

Pregnancy is a very special time, but unfortunately also a time of a great many pregnancy-related ailments (let's just say ailments with a capital A). Edema is one of them. Again, a difficult term, but it is nothing more than fluid retention. Unfortunately, you also worry more during pregnancy, so maybe you're wondering: can it hurt that my body retains extra fluid during pregnancy? To relieve you of this worry immediately: no! It is annoying of course, because for most women it is about 2-3 extra liters of fluid, and unfortunately also 2-3 extra kilos.

Not the most sociable topic, but very relevant when this ailment strikes: What can you do to stimulate the draining of fluid? If you suffer from edema, you are probably eager to apply these tips immediately. But before you start acting like a chicken with no head, it's good to get to know the nature of the beast better: what exactly does this ailment entail and what are its possible causes? Let's get to it!

What is edema?

To explain this complicated term right away: you suffer from edema when your body retains fluid in places where there is normally little or no fluid. Fluid accumulation occurs in these places because the fluid cannot be discharged properly through the bloodstream, and of course, it cannot magically disappear.

During your pregnancy, you will probably be dealing with fluid accumulation in your legs, ankles, feet, hands, and arms. And yes, unfortunately also the face in some cases. Fluid accumulation in the face is also called full-moon face (I know, not a funny term if you suffer from it).

Be comforted if you suffer from this, because it is a common pregnancy ailment that claims many victims, especially in the third trimester. And, after your pregnancy, this ailment will disappear by itself. No worries, momma!

Symptoms of edema

Edema is not a complicated ailment that is difficult to recognize. No surprise here, but edema can be recognized by a swelling under the skin. In addition, there are several other typical symptoms of edema:

  • Tense feeling at the swelling;
  • Swollen skin has a shiny or stretched appearance;
  • Shortness of breath or shortness of breath when you exert yourself, or when you lie flat;
  • You are tired faster than usual;
  • Gaining 2 to 3 kilograms within a few days.

Another way to diagnose edema in yourself is to press your finger firmly into the swollen skin and then remove it. Do you see a dimple or dent in this area? If so, you are suffering from edema.

Causes of edema during your pregnancy

In most cases, edema during pregnancy is an annoying but harmless pregnancy ailment. Here are possible causes:

  • Growing uterus: Your growing uterus can potentially put extra pressure on the blood vessels responsible for transporting blood from your lower back to your heart. The extra pressure makes this transport more difficult.
  • Pregnancy hormones: These hormones cause the wall of your blood vessels to become thinner, making it easy for fluid coming from the blood vessels to drain into the tissue.
  • A greater amount of blood: During your pregnancy, your body makes more blood, which leads to greater pressure on your legs.

In some cases, however, edema can indicate a serious underlying condition, such as heart, liver, or kidney failure. Do you suffer from fluid accumulation in combination with high blood pressure? If so, this could indicate preeclampsia. In this case, contact your doctor immediately, as it entails risks for you and the baby.

Tips against edema

If you were hoping that edema might be preventable, I'm sorry to disappoint you. However, you can combat this pregnancy ailment with simple tips:

  • Be sparing with salty foods. This will help you retain less fluid.
  • Don't be stingy with drinking water. Drinking more water equals urinating more, which is good for draining the excess fluid.
  • Try to exercise enough. This stimulates the circulation.
  • Take alternating showers. Alternating cold and hot water will also give extra stimulation to the blood circulation, especially after exercise.
  • Wear support or compression stockings. It's not as sexy, but it's for a good cause. Because these stockings are tight and exert enough pressure on your legs, you will be less likely to suffer from fluid accumulation.
  • Raised footboard. A raised foot end ensures that the moisture can be drained from your legs more easily. A good tip is therefore to put a cushion under your legs when sitting or lying down.
  • Massaging. Massaging the legs or feet can help move the excess fluid. A tip here is to always massage towards the upper body.

And, pretty mommy: don't be too hard on yourself and your body! You are beautiful just the way you are, and you are in the process of creating a beautiful little miracle. That deserves a superwoman award in itself ;)


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