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Leg swelling during pregnancy: what to do

Leg edema during pregnancy is a problem faced by almost every pregnant woman. Very often it happens in the later terms, such as in the second half of pregnancy, closer to the third trimester. The legs swell and hurt during pregnancy, a feeling of heaviness appears, it becomes difficult to stand on your feet for long periods of time.

[attention type=yellow]This type of problem is caused by the fact that blood pressure in the veins located in the lower limbs greatly increases. The fetus and uterus grow in size, constricting the pelvic veins. Consequently, the blood pools in the vessels of the legs, which leads to the formation of edema. If left untreated, the edema can cause a number of serious complications, so this problem must not be left without proper attention.[/attention]

The causes of edema during pregnancy

Why does leg edema happens during pregnancy? Edema in pregnant women is most often a temporary phenomenon which rapidly disappears soon after birth. The most common causes of leg edema during pregnancy are:

  • Excess fluid in the body. During gestation there are hormonal changes – therefore, the pregnant woman is often thirsty. This is a perfectly normal phenomenon and should not be cause for concern.
  • Varicose veins. During = fetal growth the uterus exerts a compressive force on the blood vessels of the legs, resulting in varicose disease. The veins are overfilled with blood, which in turn leads to edema.
  • Impaired kidney function. The load on the kidneys increases during pregnancy. This leads to the fact that they do not always fully remove the excess of fluid from the body, which provokes the appearance of edema. Such problems are often accompanied by the formation of dark under-eye circles and a decreased frequency of urination.
  • Uncomfortable shoes and clothing. Tight and constricting clothing and footwear can disrupt blood flow in the legs. High-heeled shoes are especially undesirable to wear during pregnancy.
  • Malfunctions of the heart or thyroid. These cause not only edema of the legs, but also of the shoulders, and even the tongue. In addition to such disorders, you may experience constipation, fatigue, and constant drowsiness.
  • Bowel problems. With frequent diarrhea there is a possibility of disorders of intestinal activity, which often lead to the appearance of leg edema.
  • Acute thrombophlebitis. It is an extremely dangerous disease, one of the signs of which is edema of the legs. It’s possible to also recognize this disease by symptoms such as fever, leg hyperemia (redness), painful sensations.
  • Recent viral disease. Complications from an infection can affect the proper function of the kidneys.
  • Preeclampsia. This condition presents a serious health hazard. Preeclampsia is characterized by edema of not only the limbs, but also the internal organs. Also, the placenta falls under its pernicious influence, which is a direct threat to the baby’s life.
[attention type=yellow]Edema may also occur for reasons such as joint disease, venous insufficiency, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, prolonged sitting position with the legs crossed. To avoid possible complications, it is imperative to see a doctor.[/attention]

The stages of edema. Norms and pathologies

In some cases, when the edema is caused by pathological changes in the body, the condition of a pregnant woman can be in a state of constant decline. Edema, thus, will spread not only to the feet, but also to other body parts.

Stages of leg edema during pregnancy

There are 4 stages of edema:

  1. First, edema forms in the area of lower limbs ( shins ) and feet.
  1. They are joined by edema in the thighs, lower abdomen and in the lumbar region.
  1. Further, edema spreads higher to the hands, and even the face.
  1. A whole body edema.

During gestation an accumulation of sodium occurs in the mother’s body, which tends to retain water. So, physiological edema develops under the influence of certain factors. Such factors may include: eating large amounts of salty foods, high ambient temperatures, excessive exercise. Physiological edema is a completely natural phenomenon during pregnancy and it should not be a concern. If the triggering factors are removed, the edema recedes.

[attention type=yellow]The other possibility is a pathological edema, which is caused by disease. It’s usually accompanied by other symptoms: sudden weight gain, spreading of edema to other parts of the body, fever, hypertension, fatigue, difficulty with mobility and more.[/attention]

How dangerous is leg edema during pregnancy and when to seek medical attention?

How dangerous is leg edema during pregnancyThe most dangerous leg edema in pregnant women is the type caused by preeclampsia. In the initial stages, it leads to the formation of hydropsy, which may eventually lead to nephropathy – kidney disease, and further to eclampsia. Eclampsia is almost incurable and is characterized by frequent convulsive seizures, which can sometimes be so severe that the woman falls into a coma.

Preeclampsia can cause severe disturbances in the blood supply to the organs, including the placenta. The fetus ceases to receive enough oxygen and nutrients, resulting in disruptions of the normal development of his organs and systems. This condition can form the basis for future chronic disease.

Other complications of preeclampsia may be intrauterine fetal death and premature labor.

Consult your doctor in the following cases:

  • the appearance of edema, not only on the legs, but also on the abdomen, hips, lower back, face or arms;
  • if edema and heaviness in the legs remain even after prolonged rest or in the morning after a night of sleep;
  • if the general condition worsens, or there is high blood pressure and protein in the urine.

How leg edema manifests in pregnant women

How leg edema manifests in pregnant womenIf the legs are slightly swollen, this does not indicate the presence of edema. Often this is simply associated with weight gain during childbearing. Enlargement of feet can signify an edema, when it is difficult to fit the feet into your usual shoes.

To identify possible edema you can check how the legs react to compression. For that purpose, a simple experiment is conducted: press your finger slightly into the skin of the foot, then release. If the skin bounces back out right away, there is no edema. But if a small indentation remains, you have edema.

[attention type=yellow]In the evening, symptoms usually become more pronounced due to fluid accumulation in the feet after a long day of standing on your feet. In the morning, after a pregnant woman has had a good night’s sleep and rest, edema is usually greatly reduced or even disappears. If edema is caused by physiological reasons, then it does not cause pain.[/attention]

Treatment of edema during pregnancy

Treatment of edema during pregnancyWhat if you have leg edema during pregnancy? How to get rid of it during pregnancy? No special treatment is needed if leg edema formed from natural causes. Your doctor may prescribe some remedies that improve blood flow – for example, Heparin Venitan, Troxevasin, Lioton and creams made with horse chestnut.

In addition, a special diet and a number of preventive measures are usually prescribed:

  • Reduce the intake of salt, which prevents the removal of fluid from the body. Put less salt in your food than needed. Eat very little smoked and spicy dishes. The best option is steamed food.
  • Reduce the amount of ingested liquids, especially in the 3rd trimester. The maximum amount of liquid is one and a half liters a day. This includes not only drinks, but also juicy fruits or vegetables, as well as soups.
  • Take the blood vessel strengthening vitamins. They will help to reduce the amount of fluid that leaks from the vessels into the tissue, thereby reducing edema.
  • Herbal teas have a diuretic effect and can help rid the body of excess fluid. These include concoctions made from rose hips, cowberry leaves, horsetail, cranberry, bearberry, dried apricots. To get the most positive effect from these concoctions, they should be use for at least a month. It is not recommended to take any chemical diuretics, because they can be dangerous during pregnancy.
  • Foot massage helps to reduce edema, especially if you do it with jojoba, peach or grape seed oil.
  • Homeopathic remedies may also have a beneficial effect. For example, sodium chloride repairs the liquid metabolism in the body. Nontraditional methods of treatment, such as chiropractic, acupuncture or osteopathy are also often used to improve blood flow in the legs, the normalization of urinary function and removal of edema.
[attention type=red]If preeclampsia was the cause of edema, the treatment is performed in a hospital setting. They rarely manage to completely eliminate this problem, but with the help of properly selected medicine, the negative impact of the disease on the organism of a pregnant woman can be reduced.[/attention]

How to avoid edema

To prevent edema, follow these recommended preventive measures:

  • Physical activity. It’s necessary to be physical active during pregnancy – do exercises every day, go hiking, and in the evenings, after work, lie down on the bed or the floor, lift the legs, pushing them into a wall, and lie in that position for 10-15 minutes. Thus, the blood will flow downward, reducing congestion in the legs.
  • Special diet. It’s necessary to reduce the amount of consumed salt and eliminate carbonated and sugary drinks, as well as coffee and tea. When you feel thirsty, eat a juicy vegetable or fruit, and if you do drink water, make it mineral water.
  • Be sure to include in your diet such products as oranges, parsley, lemon, celery, garlic, mandarin oranges, onions. These foods have a positive effect on the function of the urinary system.
  • During sleep, it is recommended to prop a pillow under the feet, so they are elevated above the level of your head.
  • Shoes should be comfortable and clothes loose, not constricting the legs.
  • Avoid overheating the body – during pregnancy you must quit visiting steam bath and saunas, as well as sunbathing.

Video about leg edema during pregnancy

This video discusses the causes of leg edema during pregnancy, the symptoms and dangers of this problem. Having watched the video, you will learn how to eliminate edema in pregnancy and prevent its occurrence.

[attention type=yellow]Many women use traditional therapies to fight edema. For example, compresses with fresh cabbage leaves applied to swollen legs may have a beneficial effect. What homeopathic recipes for edema do you know? What helped you to deal with this problem? Share your experiences in the comments section.[/attention]

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