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Tips to deal with swollen feet or edema during pregnancy

How to deal with edema during pregnancy

edemaPregnancy is the time to rejoice - talk to your bump, eat right and lead a healthy and happy life. But some pregnancy niggles can act spoilsport. And one of them is edema. An otherwise harmless condition edema can keep vying for your attention till the end of pregnancy.

What is edema:

Edema refers to the mild swelling that is common in most women during pregnancy. Swelling due to edema is particularly noticed in the feet and ankles. Sometimes even your fingers might appear swollen and fatter because of edema. 'Edema is the accumulation of fluids in the tissues, outside the blood vessels in pregnant women,' informs Dr Shantala Vadeyar, obstetrician, foetal and maternal medicine specialist Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai. Read more to know about other pregnancy symptoms.

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Why it happens:

It happens due to a combination of factors. During pregnancy the fluid levels in the body increase to help you nurture self and your baby inside the womb. Hence the fluid overload. 'Apart from that, the pressure of the pregnant uterus on the veins interrupts blood circulation. The pressure interferes with the blood returning from the lower limbs to the heart, causing the swelling. At times edema can also happen due to low protein in your diet or low haemoglobin levels,' adds Dr Vadeyar.

Should you worry?

In most cases edema is no reason to lose your sleep over, though it makes your feet and hands look less pretty. It is a harmless and painless condition. But it is still wise to talk about it to your gynecologist. 'Edema could also be a sign of pre-eclampsia, which is a potentially high risk situation in pregnancy. Especially if it occurs with hypertension and protein loss in the urine. So get checked and talk about it with your doctor to avoid any hitches,' says Dr Vadeyar. Know how pre-eclampsia can cause trouble during pregnancy.

If you are having a healthy pregnancy with no other accompanying medical complications, you can put your mind to rest over edema.

What can you do:

Avoid long hours of standing or sitting: Long hours of standing or sitting can make your feet and ankles swell more. If you have to stand for too long take a break and look for a seat to rest. If you are seated for long get up and take a stroll. Keep your legs elevated when you have to sit for long hours at a stretch.

Change to comfortable shoes: Wondered why those maternity shops had special pregnancy shoes? Now you know the reason. Go get one.

Drink lots of water: Yes, only fluids can flush out fluids from your systems.

Check your diet: If edema is really bothering you without any other accompanying medical condition, 'try to cut down your salt intake and have a protein rich diet,' says Dr Vadeyar. Know what you should include in your pregnancy diet plan.

Get yourself checked: 'Check your BP and take steps to keep it within the normal range for a safe and smooth pregnancy and labour,' says Dr Vadeyar.

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