Swelling and bloating is a very common side effect during pregnancy (it can also be a sign of a problem like pre-eclampsia, so always check with your doctor or midwife first!). Swelling or edema in pregnancy is normally caused by the larger amount of blood in the body, which can pool if circulation is poor, especially in the lower extremities.
Having a fit and healthy pregnancy with a nutritious diet free of processed, high-sodium foods and a daily exercise routine will be your best bet in preventing swelling. In fact, I had very little swelling through my fit and healthy pregnancy, even though I was puffy and swollen through my first three. Here’s a comparison of my fittest pregnancy and my unhealthiest pregnancy.
Here are a few ways you can naturally reduce swelling and bloat during pregnancy.
Adding just a dash of pure lemon juice (not from concentrate) to your water not only helps flavor your water, but can help reduce swelling. Lemon juice is a mild and safe diuretic that will help your system rid itself of excess water. This was the number one method that worked for my swelling during pregnancy.
Cucumbers are also a natural diuretic, containing sulfur and silicon, that stimulate the kidneys to be more efficient. Eat them raw or you can also add them to your water.
Dandelion is a good source of phytochemicals that encourage the elimination of excess fluid. Dandelion tea was recommended by my midwife and although it didn’t work that well for me, I’ve heard of others having great success with it. You can drink a cup of dandelion tea 2-3 times a day to relieve swelling.
Staying active is one of the best ways to relieve swelling during pregnancy. Because circulation slows during pregnancy, the blood and fluid in our body can pool, causing a buildup of fluid. Moving and stretching gets the circulation going, reducing the amount of fluid that builds up. For a complete guide to fit pregnancy, check out my ebook here!
Compression hosiery and socks help improve circulation by improving venous blood to the heart. As an added bonus, compression socks can prevent varicose veins in your legs, which can be common during pregnancy. While they certainly weren’t the cutest thing in the world, my compression socks helped a ton with swelling.
A warm bath with some epsom salt added can help draw fluid out of the body. Add 1 cup of the salt (magnesium sulfate) per gallon of warm water and soak your hands, feet, or your entire body.
Grapefruit, Lemongrass, and Cypress essential oils can be used together to massage onto swollen feet and ankles to reduce swelling. Mix these with coconut oil and rub in 2-3 drops on the swollen area (it’s best to avoid essential oils in your first trimester).
While you’re down there with the essential oils, go ahead and give yourself a good foot and leg massage. Better yet, get your partner or a massage therapist/reflexologist to do it for you. This not only relaxes you and feels amazing, but will increase your circulation and reduce fluid buildup.
Acupuncture is said to help improve circulation and fluid metabolism. Make sure your acupuncturist is licensed and experienced with pregnancy.
Wrapping a cabbage leaf around the swollen area for 20 minutes can draw out excess fluid and reduce swelling.
Another way to increase circulation is to have chiropractic treatment. I used a chiropractor who specialized in pregnancy and these treatments instantly reduced my swelling, the minute I walked out of the office. Chiropractic treatment takes pressure off of vital joints and nerves that tend to be compressed during pregnancy, which in turn promotes healthy circulation to extremities that pool with fluid.
How did you reduce swelling during your pregnancy?