Swelling, or edema, is one of a plethora of symptoms many pregnant women experience. It's caused by increased pressure in your veins and water retention and is exacerbated by hot weather and fatigue. Edema typically occurs in your ankles, fingers, face and lower back. While there are ways to ease swelling once it has occurred, you can help prevent it through eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight.
Foods to Flush Out Water
Certain foods improve your kidney function and help you urinate more often to eliminate water and waste products and prevent swelling. According to the BabyCenter website, these foods include celery, watercress, apples, citrus fruits and small amounts of parsley. The University of Maryland Medical Center also includes asparagus, grapes, beets, green beans, leafy green vegetables, pineapple and pumpkin. You can improve your circulation and reduce edema by adding more onion and garlic to the dishes you prepare.
Foods to Maintain Fluid Balance
The American Pregnancy Association recommends potassium to prevent and reduce pregnancy swelling. Potassium helps keep the fluids in your body chemically balanced, which is especially critical during pregnancy because your blood volume increases by 50 percent. Pregnant women should aim for 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day. Potassium is found in many foods including meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes and dairy products.
Foods With Antioxidant Properties
Get your daily dose of vitamins C and E to combat pregnancy swelling. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, peppers, potatoes, melons, tomatoes, strawberries and broccoli. Vitamin E-rich foods include vegetable oils, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, sweet corn and nuts. These vitamins also contain antioxidant properties, which the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends as treatment for edema. Other examples of antioxidant nutrients include lutein, lycopene, beta carotene and selenium.
Considerations and Foods to Avoid
While it may seem counterintuitive, drink plenty of water throughout your pregnancy. Water rids waste from your body and reduces water retention. Avoid salty foods and caffeine, which both contribute to edema. Eat plenty of whole grains, which are rich in B vitamins and iron, and avoid refined grains, red meats and trans fats found in processed foods, baked goods and french fries. If you develop sudden swelling in your hands and face, contact your doctor immediately because it can be a sign of preeclampsia, a dangerous condition that can develop during pregnancy.