When you are pregnant, your body produces 1250 mL more blood volume than before you are pregnant. You are also obviously gaining weight All that tends to push fluids out of our blood vessels (where they belong) and into our tissues. Other factors that may increase swelling include heat, periods of standing with improper alignment, low potassium and sodium intake, and high levels of caffeine intake.
While pregancy can we hard on our cardiovascular system, we actually have a system that helps to put that fluid and other materials back where they belong. It’s called the lymphatic system. It is similar to the circulatory system except, it doesn’t have a pump. If you’ve heard of your lymph nodes, that’s a part of it. Because it doesn’t have a pump, it relies on your muscles movement to do it’s job. You also have those lymph nodes that get backed up if the muscles are tight around them.
Below are some exercises that will help loosen up tight muscles and allow the lymph to move more efficiently, putting those fluids back where they belong. Walking will help to get your muscles moving to also put the fluids back where they belong.
When your sitting, raise your legs and wiggle and stretch those
body parts that you feel the most tight in. Really, just think
movement, no matter what position you are in:) Compression stockings
may also help to keep the fluids out of the legs, but it’s sort of a
band aid and doesn’t really fix the problem(i.e. lymphatic system
needing to work better).
Here’s a couple of links that talk about this concept(it is discussing immunity, but it’ll help with the fluids also).
There are other tips you can find online for swelling but it just
makes sense to me that you should first and foremost support the
system that we have that helps to put the fluids back where they are
supposed to be. The hard thing is, it’s not a simple fix:) It is really important to make this a daily thingand it will take a little bit of time, but the good thing is, these exercises will help with lots of pregnancy related ailments.
Hytten, F. (1985). Blood volume changes in early pregnancy. Clinal Haematology. Oct;14(3):601-12.