Water retention in pregnancy

Tips to help you cope with water retention in pregnancy.

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Water retention, or oedema, is common in the latter stages of pregnancy and although it’s not dangerous, it’s uncomfortable and can hang around a week or so after you’ve given birth.

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Severe swelling could be a sign of pre-eclampsia, but otherwise the following may provide relief…

1. Put your feet up

Standing for long periods can cause fluid to collect in your feet and ankles, so keep your feet elevated whenever you can.

2. Stay hydrated

Daft as it sounds, drinking throughout the day will help. Too little water in the body causes it to retain water.

You know the drill: at least eight glasses a day, and caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea and cola, don’t count.

3. Use support

Invest in a pair of waist-high support tights and put these on before you get out of bed, so blood has no chance to pool around your ankles.

4. Get moving

Regular exercise, particularly walking and swimming, can help.

5. Eat well

Hormones can cause retention of salt in the kidneys, which means your body is likely to retain fluid.

Avoiding salty food and eating more foods rich in potassium can counteract the salt imbalance.

6. Keep left

As your womb grows it puts pressure on the vena cava, the vein that receives blood from your lower limbs. This can cause blood to pool, which then forces water into your feet. Lying on your left side will help reduce the pressure.

Mum’s story

“I got used to putting my feet up”

“I was really good at keeping a bottle of water with me at all times during both my pregnancies, but I really noticed that by the end of each day my ankles had really swollen, especially when I was expecting Ellie. I think it was worse because the weather was so hot – she was an August baby!

“To ease the problem, each evening I’d get a nice cooling glass of juice, put my feet up on cushions in front of me, put plenty of cushions behind my back to support me on the sofa, and use it as a good excuse to watch an hour of my favourite re-runs on Sky!”

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Caroline, 42, mum to Liam, 6, and Ellie, 3

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