I’m about 28 weeks into my pregnancy and I’m constantly suffering from swollen hands and feet? Is this something I should be worried about?
Congratulations on starting your third trimester! From this point on, the baby is exponentially growing and putting on weight. For mummies who have started the pregnancy within a normal BMI, you are aiming to put on 12 kg through the whole pregnancy. If you have already excessively gained weight up to this point, or if the baby is above average in size, this weight pressing down on the pelvic blood vessels will cause poorer circulation in the lower half of the body, resulting in water retention. This is common, particularly for multiple pregnancy and diabetic mothers.
Ankles and feet swellings tend to be worse after a long work day of sitting down or standing,
as water pools downwards with gravity. Walking or elevation of feet under the desk will help.
Putting an extra pillow below the calves and feet will help resolve this after a good night’s rest.
On the other hand, swelling of the hands is worse first thing in the morning due to inactivity overnight and improves through the day with movements. Take care not to go to bed with bracelets or rings!
Women who lead active lifestyles and exercise regularly will have less of these symptoms and issues. It is helpful to hydrate and drink lots of water to improve circulation. There is a misconception that water retention is due to excessive water intake! Elevation of swelling and sleeping on the left side will help to improve the situation. For certain professions, prolonged sitting or standing at the job may be unavoidable. If that is the case, prophylactically wearing pressured stockings may help to prevent water retention.
When the water retention is constant and cannot be relieved by elevation, massages, etc. it may be due to more sinister conditions. Pre-eclampsia can be associated with sudden severe swelling which may include even facial puffiness. In this condition, the blood pressure is raised and there is also biochemical disturbance that can be found through a blood test. Urgent management is imperative to avoid complications to both mother and baby.
Sudden and unilateral swelling of the calf can also be due to a serious condition, such as deep vein thrombosis, which pregnant women are particularly susceptible to. Prolonged immobility, obesity and smoking are additional risk factors. When this happens, one of the calves may appear swollen, red and is warmer to touch. An urgent visit to the gynaecologist or A&E is necessary to prevent life-threatening complications.
Question answered by:
Dr Chua Yang
A Clinic For Women
Mount Alvernia Medical Centre
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