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Managing Pregnancy Swelling in Your Third Trimester

October 1, 2012

Of course, gradual and moderate weight gain throughout your pregnancy is normal and expected. And the growth of your belly will surprise you as it extends by leaps and bounds during your second and third trimesters! But you may not be expecting common pregnancy swelling to occur late in your third trimester.

Once you hit week 33 or 34 of your pregnancy, you may start noticing swelling, especially in your extremities. Your body produces and retains more fluid during pregnancy, and this swelling is normal. It is usually worse in the hands and feet, and it most noticeable toward the end of the day, especially if you’ve been sitting in, say, an office chair with your feet stationary and on the floor all day!

You can alleviate this swelling by sitting with your feet up throughout the day, or by elevating your feet when you’re relaxing at night. You can also use cold compresses to make the swelling go down a bit. Reducing salt and increasing your water intake can also help. You may also want to stay in cool environments and stay off your feet during this part of your pregnancy. And some women find it necessary to remove their wedding rings at the first signs of swelling, so that they don’t find them painful and impossible to remove by week 39!

If you notice that your swelling increases rapidly, or occurs in one leg only, call your doctor right away. Swelling in one leg can indicate that you have a deep vein thrombosis, or blood clot. And if your face begins to swell or you notice headaches or blurred vision, see your doctor immediately, as this can be a sign of preeclampsia and will need to be monitored closely.

And happily, normal pregnancy swelling should decrease quickly once you’ve given birth. At that point, you’ll be able to focus on your new little bundle and put the quirky symptoms of pregnancy behind you.

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