During pregnancy, your body is going through a miraculous transformation. Everything from hormone production to organ location is going to change in order for you to share your body with your baby.
Needless to say, some of the changes aren’t always welcome. Leg Pain During Pregnancy is among the many pregnancy symptoms you’re likely to experience. It can stem from lots of different things, and of course, the added weight of your growing baby is going to increase the load you have to carry. Our bodies produce up to 50 percent more blood during pregnancy, which can cause swelling in extremities (edema) when the fluid collects in tissue.
No one wants to deal with swollen, painful legs during pregnancy. Here’s what you can do about it.
Leg Pain During Pregnancy
Wear Compression Socks
One of the best things you can do to relieve swelling and leg pain during pregnancy is wearing compression socks. Fortunately, there are more options for comfortable, stylish compression socks these days beyond the hose your grandmother used to wear.
Compression socks help counteract swelling by helping move blood and fluids up the leg. Look for compression socks that have firm graduated pressure from the ankles up. It’s a cheap, simple fix that’s especially beneficial if you’re going to be on your feet for an extended period.
Prop Your Legs Up
Staying off your feet as much as possible can also help since standing for long periods increases edema. It’s even better to prop your legs up so that your feet are in line or higher than your heart. This can naturally decrease fluid buildup and swelling in the legs by letting gravity do most of the work.
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Stay Out of the Heat
Like you needed another reason to stay indoors during the sweltering summer, right? Heat during the summer can make edema worse. It’s best to stay indoors in the air conditioning and avoid going outside during peak temperatures.
Take a Dip in a Pool
The one exception to getting out in the summer heat is taking a dip in a pool. Swimming during pregnancy can help you stay cool and floating in the water can help decrease leg discomfort. Why? For starters, in the water, you weigh about a tenth of what you do on land. It’s also a healthy form of exercise that won’t put extra strain on your joints. But there’s another big reason to do it if you have edema. Submerging your legs in water will boost circulation and force fluids out of the tissue and into the veins so there’s less swelling.
Sleep on Your Left Side
Excess fluid causes a lot of swelling during pregnancy but compromised blood flow is also a problem. The uterus puts pressure on a major vein known as the vena cava. The vena cava is responsible for bringing blood in the legs back up to the heart. The added pressure causes the blood flow to slow in the vena cava and in turn forces fluid into the leg tissue.
The vena cava is on the right side of the body so sleeping on your left side can relieve the pressure and swelling.
Reduce Sodium Consumption
Sodium (a.k.a. salt) is known to increase swelling because it increases water retention. During pregnancy increased water retention is the last thing you need. Plus, consuming too much sodium isn’t good for your overall health. Aim to consume no more than 2,500 milligrams of sodium a day. A goal of 1,500 milligrams a day is even better.
Drink Plenty of Water
When you’ve already got so much extra fluid in your body, drinking water may seem counterproductive. In actuality, drinking water helps flush toxins out of the body and reduces water retention.
Watch Out for Signs of Preeclampsia
Some swelling that comes on slowly is expected during pregnancy. However, swelling that comes on quickly could be a sign of a dangerous condition called preeclampsia. The condition can cause high blood pressure in the mother and prevent the placenta from getting the blood it needs.
With preeclampsia swelling typically occurs in the hands and/or face. Call your doctor immediately if you experience sudden swelling anywhere in the body. If you do have preeclampsia the tips above are often recommended to control the condition.