Most moms will agree that swelling during pregnancy is a very common, very unpleasant effect of a joyous occasion. According to Parenttime.com, about 25 percent of the weight you gain during pregnancy is due to excess fluids. These fluids are necessary to nurture and protect your baby in the womb. According to the American Pregnancy Association, normal swelling occurs during pregnancy in the hands, face, legs, ankles and feet. It is usually most severe in the last trimester of your pregnancy, reports BabyCenter.com. However, not all swelling during pregnancy is normal; if you experience sudden swelling of your hands or face, contact your doctor. This may be a sign of preeclampsia, or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure.
Drink lots of water. According to Parenttime.com, hydration is more important than ever during pregnancy, when extra fluids are needed to nourish your baby. By drinking more water than usual, you can avoid excess water retention, which adds to your swelling. BabyCenter.com recommends drinking 6 to 8 cups, or 46 to 64 fluid ounces, of water per day while you're pregnant.
Remove rings or wristwatches. These pieces of jewelry may be useful or meaningful to you, but if you're experiencing swollen fingers or wrists, they may increase your discomfort. Parenttime.com recommends leaving them off for the duration of your pregnancy if you suffer from swelling, and also avoiding clothes that might be tight around your wrists.
Exercise. Parenttime.com reports that exercising will improve your circulation and help stabilize your weight, both of which can help with swelling. BabyCenter.com recommends activities such as walking or riding an exercise bike. Two especially useful forms of exercise are swimming or water aerobics. Soaking in water, particularly if the level is up to your shoulders, can temporarily relieve swelling.
Hold cold compresses on the swollen areas to soothe them. The American Pregnancy Association reports that this can provide relief from the discomfort of swelling. If it's summertime, you should also avoid spending too much time outside.
Eat to avoid swelling. Certain foods, such as salt, promote water retention, whether you are pregnant or not. Avoid foods high in sodium and instead seek out foods rich in potassium, which can help reduce swelling, according to Parenttime.com. Among these foods are bananas, dried fruits and nuts. You should also cut back on caffeine; most likely your doctor will advise this as a general pregnancy precaution. Caffeine also may cause dehydration, which can lead to fluid retention.
Avoid long periods of sitting or standing. BabyCenter.com recommends taking short breaks to promote blood circulation, which can reduce overall swelling.