There are so many changes the body undergoes during pregnancy and it includes pregnancy swelling.
Approximately 75% of all pregnant women experience mild swelling during their pregnancy. Some swelling in various parts of the body is a very normal occurrence of pregnancy. Although more prevalent during the third trimester, Oedema can occur at any time throughout pregnancy.
Oedema (swelling) is common during pregnancy because of accumulated fluid in body tissues. It typically involves the lower extremities but occasionally appears as swelling or puffiness in the face or hands. This happens because during pregnancy the body releases hormones that allow the ligaments to relax in the birth canal. The ligaments in the feet also relax, causing the foot to lengthen and widen. Many will complain of a shoe size increase by one or two sizes. In most circumstances, this flattening and widening of the foot is benign and no problems result. Water retention is also common during pregnancy, which can add to the swelling where the foot can sometimes turn a purple or blue colour.
During pregnancy, as your baby grows, more pressure is put on the veins in your legs. The vena cava is the large vein that returns blood to the heart from the limbs. The pressure on the vena cava from the growing uterus slows the flow of blood and this can result in swelling of the feet and legs.
Another reason is, your blood volume increases by about 50% during pregnancy. Your body is producing and retaining more fluids when you are pregnant. This can result in fluid retention inside the body, which results in swelling.
In addition, discomfort is also evident because of an increased level of the hormone progesterone, which causes the kidneys to retain more sodium during pregnancy. The extra sodium in the body holds water and leaves you feeling bloated, the same way you feel before your period
Clinically, pregnancy oedema can be divided into three classification:
There are common foot conditions amongst pregnant women which includes over-pronation, leg cramps, varicose veins and leg or foot oedema which may cause foot pain. Foot pain during pregnancy is debilitating. Most often attributed to some level of oedema, foot pain can occur at any stage of pregnancy but most often occurs during the second half of the gestational period. This is due to extra pressure exerted on to the feet by weight gain.
Swelling is usually the same in both feet. If one foot seems worse than the other this may be a sign of a vascular problem and you should get medical advice as soon as possible.
Oedema is common during late pregnancy.The problem usually is worse at the end of the day and in warm weather. Minor swelling is normal but if blood pressure climbs and protein enters the urine, there is a danger of preeclampsia, a potentially serious complication of pregnancy.
The relationship between oedema and preeclampsia is often misunderstood. Many pregnant women are under the impression that swelling and water retention is an inherently dangerous condition to them and their unborn child. This, however, isn’t the case at all. In fact, treating Oedema during pregnancy is quite normal. Oedema is a symptom of preeclampsia; however, having Oedema doesn’t mean that your child is in danger due to the complication.
If you have this condition, you will need to be more carefully monitored to ensure that all your other vital signs are normal and that you haven’t developed blood pressure problems. Many women experience pregnancy induced oedema with no complications besides physical discomfort. However, be aware of the possibilities and keep your eye on your condition closely to ensure that it doesn’t become a problem as your pregnancy progresses.
Home blood pressure monitoring should not replace prenatal visits, nor should a “normal” reading mean ignoring symptoms that may be markers of preeclampsia. Home blood pressure monitoring should only be used to help the mother be more proactive in her care.
Try not to let pregnancy swelling oedema on different parts of your body get you down. The sight of your swollen parts will probably add to your feeling of negative physical change, but oedema is a temporary condition that will pass soon after you give birth.