Method 1 Controlling Environmental Factors
1Stay off your feet as much as possible. Standing or sitting with your feet flat on the wear ground can exacerbate edema because growing pressure on your veins hinders the return of blood to your heart. Avoid standing or sitting with your feet flat on the floor for long periods, which may help reduce edema, especially in your feet and ankles.
- It is impossible to not be on your feet at times. If you are standing, try and take sitting breaks and rotate your feet and ankles while you do to help circulate the fluid.
- Make sure you wear comfortable shoes during pregnancy. Shoes that are too tight, or even high heels, may make your edema worse and can also increase your discomfort.
2Elevate your feet when resting. At times when you are resting, put your feet up. Not only can this help you relax, but it may make it easier for your body to recirculate blood and the fluids and dissipate any edema you are experiencing.
- You may want to elevate your feet above your heart for best results, but do what makes you most comfortable.
- Consider elevating your legs slightly with pillows while you sleep.
3Put on compression tights or socks. Compression stockings or socks help improve blood and fluid flow in your legs. Wear a pair of compression garments to help reduce your edema.
- Depending on the severity of your edema, you can get different pressures of stockings — from light to strong.
- You don’t need a prescription from your doctor to purchase compression stockings, but you may want to consult with her to see if it is a good option for you.
- You may be able to get your insurance to pay for compression stockings.
- You can get compression garments at many pharmacies and most medical supply stores.
4Wear loose and comfortable clothing. Clothes that are tight around your wrists, arms, or ankles can become extremely uncomfortable if you have swelling from edema. Wear loose and natural fiber clothing to help minimize discomfort and the risk of constricting your ability to move.
- You may want to wear clothing designed specifically for pregnancy, which is meant to grow with you and is often less constricting than non-maternity clothes.
- Wearing cool, loose, and smooth textured clothing such as cotton or merino wool can also prevent overheating and excess sweating, which can exacerbate edema.
5Massage your affected areas. There is some research suggesting that massage can help reduce edema during pregnancy. Give yourself a massage in the affected areas or consider seeing a professional masseuse to help relieve edema.
- Stroke the areas affected by edema in motions toward your heart, which can encourage the excess fluids to back to your heart.
- Use firm pressure that does not cause you any pain.
- Ask your doctor to suggest a masseuse that specializes in pregnancy massage.
6Avoid the outdoors when it is hot. Hot weather and sun exposure can exacerbate edema. Seeking out shade, staying inside in air-conditioning, or avoiding the sun may help reduce your edema.
- If you notice that you’re beginning to swell in the heat, get to a cooler location to minimize your risk of getting edema that is very uncomfortable.
7Swim or rest in a pool. If you are outside and don’t have a chance to get inside, you can go for a swim or rest in a pool or other body of water. This can cool you down and take pressure off of your joints, which may reduce any edema you have or prevent swelling.
- Swimming is an excellent option because it helps circulate blood and the fluids in your body.
- If you can’t swim, you can float in the water, or even consider just walking in the water.
8Apply cold compresses to swollen areas. Cold reduces blood flow to areas, which reduces swelling and may also provide some comfort. Apply cold packs or compresses to any areas on which you’re experiencing edema to help reduce it.
- You can place a cold compress on swollen areas intermittently for 10 to 15 minutes, once every two hours or as needed.
- Make sure you always wrap ice packs in a towel or t-shirt to prevent skin damage and frostbite.
9Sleep in a comfortable and cool environment. Sleep in a bedroom that is comfortable, cool, and well ventilated. In addition, sleep on your left side if you can. By controlling factors such as the temperature and position, and even having comfortable bedding, you may help reduce any pregnancy-related edema you are experiencing.
- Sleep on your left side if possible. This position puts less pressure on your inferior vena cava, which is the large vein that returns blood from your lower body to your heart, and can help control edema.
- Set temperature in bedroom to between 60 to 75°F (15.6 to 23.9°C) for optimal sleeping conditions.
- Use a fan to keep air circulating or open a window.
- Make up your bed with natural fabric bedding such as cotton. This can help control your temperature, which in turn may reduce edema.
Method 2 Decreasing Edema with Alternative Treatments
1Cut sodium from your diet. Excess salt can make you retain water, which exacerbates edema. Cut as much sodium from your diet as you can to help reduce any edema you are experiencing.
- The daily sodium recommendation for pregnant women is 3,000 milligrams, which you may want to reduce to help minimize edema-related swelling.
- Avoid sodium rich-foods. Processed and prepared foods, for example, contain high amounts of sodium.
- Another way to get rid of excess sodium in your body is eating potassium-rich foods such as bananas, apricots, oranges, sweet potatoes, and beets.
2Drink plenty of water. It seems counterintuitive, but staying hydrated is one of the best ways to flush out excess fluid. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help you stay hydrated, support your pregnancy, and can help minimize edema.
- Water is your best option to help flush out excess fluids. Aim to drink about 10 cups (2.3 liters) per day or more if you are active or feel you need it.
- Avoid sugary drinks, especially soda and processed fruit juices.
3Maintain regularity. Having regular bowel movements will also help flush excess sodium and water from your system. Removing these elements and other waste will contribute can help control your edema.
- You need fiber to stay regular to help flush out salt and water. Aim for 20 – 35 mg of fiber a day from soluble and insoluble sources.
- Soluble fiber is in food such as oats, legumes, apples, pears, and flax. You can get insoluble fiber from foods like whole wheat and brown rice, broccoli, zucchini, carrots, and kale.
- Regular exercise will also help keep you regular because it puts force on your intestines to move.
4Exercise or get regular movement. Doing cardiovascular exercise can help get your circulation moving and flush out excess fluids. Aim to get some form of physical activity every day to help minimize edema. Discuss your with your doctor before you start to ensure it’s safe for you.
- Try and get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. If you were more active before your pregnancy, you can continue at the same pace as long as your doctor approves of it.
- You can do any type of cardio training to help reduce edema and support your health. Beyond walking, consider running, swimming, rowing, or biking.
5Consult with your doctor. If using lifestyle and home treatments don’t reduce your edema, speak with your doctor. She may want to check for underlying conditions such as preeclampsia or may prescribe medication to help flush out excess fluids.
- If you notice a sudden increase in swelling or edema that seems unusual, call you doctor immediately. Swelling can be a sign of high blood pressure or preeclampsia, which are serious conditions that require prompt treatment.
- Other things to look for include headache that doesn't improve with rest or acetaminophen, seeing spots, new onset nausea and vomiting, severe pain in the upper right side of your abdomen. If you experience any of these things, contact your doctor.
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- Realize that edema will pass after pregnancy. Edema might be uncomfortable for three to four months, but retaining fluid helps make child bearing easier on the body.
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