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Managing Prenatal Edema – By Madeleine Ganly, Registered Massage Therapist

Managing Prenatal Edema – By Madeleine Ganly, Registered Massage Therapist

What is Edema? 

Edema (swelling) is the accumulation of fluids in the interstitial spaces. Some edema in the hands and feet is normal during pregnancy due to the rise of estrogen and progesterone, the relaxation and dilation of blood vessels, pressure from the weight of the uterus compressing major blood vessels and an increase in blood volume. Mild edema is most prevalent in the third trimester and can be exacerbated by hot weather and standing or sitting for prolonged periods of time.

Here are some tips for managing sore, swollen feet during pregnancy!

1. Ice massage! Freeze a plastic water bottle to roll out sore, swollen feet for quick relief on hot days.

2. Regular exercise like walking and swimming.

3. Ankle rotations with dorsi and plantar flexion.

4. Elevate legs regularly throughout the day and rest in a left side lying position.

5. Massage! Massage can help support the body’s ability to process excess fluids and help stimulate resorption.

You may also consider making an appointment with a registered dietitian, wearing loose fitting clothing without restrictions in the groin, legs, abdomen and arms, and discussing the use of compression garments with your primary care provider.

If edema is sudden, severe, persistent, pitting, or coincides with any symptoms associated with preeclampsia, you should be evaluated by your primary care provider.


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