The female body is a tremendous piece of machinery. During the 40 week gestational period of the fetus, the increase in blood can range from 25% to 40% or more. This increase in blood will cause an inevitable swelling during pregnancy. It is not, however, this normal swelling that the mother needs to worry about while pregnant. Excessive swelling can be a sign of pregnancy complications and should be watched carefully as the pregnancy progresses.
The Reason for Swelling During Pregnancy
Swelling during pregnancy is not all bad. The female body understands the need for cushion as the fetus grows during pregnancy. This cushion manifests as increased fluid in the body. The fluid fills the joints of the body to alleviate pressure from the increased weight of the fetus. The pelvic joints use the swelling during pregnancy to prepare for the expansion needed for the baby to pass through the vaginal canal. As a while, normal fluid retention during pregnancy will account for 25% of the total weight gain.
Aside from the normal fluid retention, there are other causes of swelling during pregnancy that can result in too much fluid being retained. These causes include:
- Hot weather. It is important to stay out of the sun for longer than normal during the warmest days of your pregnancy.
Spending long periods of time standing. The longer mom stands without sitting, the more fluid can retain in the ankles, feet and legs of the body. This can cause painful swelling during pregnancy.
- Long periods of activity without periods of rest. For every hour of activity, the expecting mother needs to rest for at least 15 minutes. During this time of rest, prevent swelling during pregnancy by propping the legs up.
- Lowered potassium levels. Diets low in potassium can cause the body to retain water. If the potassium levels remain low, this water retention can become dangerous and even life threatening. There are natural sources of potassium that can be included in the diet safely to prevent this swelling during pregnancy from becoming a health concern. Foods high in potassium include avocado, milk and bananas.
- Increased caffeine consumption. Caffeine has recently been linked to pregnancy complications and should be avoided whenever possible. High levels of caffeine can also cause fluid retention in the body.
When Swelling During Pregnancy is Most Important
The most important swelling during pregnancy for the mother to notice is the sudden swelling of the hands and / or face. When the hands and face instantly swell and if you gain weight rapidly, this could be a first symptom of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is also known as pregnancy induced hypertension or high blood pressure. Preeclampsia can be life threatening to both the mother and the unborn fetus. If preeclampsia is diagnosed, the mother is often hospitalized for the duration of the pregnancy. During the hospitalization, the high blood pressure causing the swelling during pregnancy will be treated by the obstetrician. If the treatments do not lower the mother's blood pressure, the baby may be taken early be C-section.