During pregnancy the volume of bodily water increases by 6 to 8 liters, and as pregnancy progresses, this excess fluid may accumulate in tissues causing them to swell and appear puffy. The extra fluids account for approximately 25% of the weight women gain during pregnancy.
This condition, also called edema, is common during pregnancy because the adrenal glands produce hormones that causes the body to retain fluids. The growing uterus interferes with blood flow from the legs to the heart, causing excess fluid to back up in the veins of the legs and seep out into the surrounding tissues, resulting in puffy legs and feet.
Some fluid accumulation during pregnancy is normal and at some stage in pregnancy 8 out of 10 women have demonstrable clinical edema. This can lead to unpleasant symptoms such as pain, night cramps, numbness, tingling and heavy legs.
HOW TO REDUCE SWELLING:
Elevate your legs and feet as often as possible as this will improve circulation.
Avoid standing or sitting for extended periods.
Massage your legs regularly. Recent studies have confirmed that foot and leg massage (also known as manual lymph drainage) has a positive effect on decreasing lower leg edema. This is because massage stimulates mechanisms of the lymphovenous drainage system, improving circulation, thereby favouring a reduction of edema.
Sleep on your left side. This reduces the pressure of the large vein (vena cava) that returns blood from your lower extremities to your heart. You can also sleep with your legs elevated on pillows to reduce swelling.
Keep cool and hydrated. Hot weather and sun exposure can exacerbate edema. Apply a cold compress or cooling gels to the affected areas and drink lots of water. It may seem counter-intuitive to flush out fluids with fluids, but drinking eight to ten glasses of water a day will help rid your system of excess sodium and other waste products, minimizing swelling.
Apply active ingredients that have circulatory, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, cooling and healing properties to the affected areas.
Click here for more information on specific active ingredients that are effective against edema.
Cautionary Note: If you notice a sudden increase in swelling or edema that seems unusual, call your doctor immediately. Swelling can be a sign of high blood pressure or preeclampsia, which are serious conditions that require prompt treatment.
Do you know of any other techniques that effectively reduce swollen legs during pregnancy? I would love to hear them! Leave me a comment below.
Our Cooling Leg Gel is light and non-sticky gel that revives tired, heavy and puffy legs and feet for long-lasting comfort during and after pregnancy. The unique formulation is based on natural ingredients with healing and anti-inflammatory properties that improve circulation and reduce water retention.
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or queries please feel free to leave a comment below. For more tips and advice on maternity skin care check out the Expert Advice section of the Natralogic website.
All the best
Lauren Lamont - Natralogic Founder
MSc Chemistry, Dip.Cos.Sci (SA)