One of the common not-so-cute side effects of pregnancy is swelling. Unfortunately, swollen feet and hands are pretty normal if you’re expecting. Pregnant women know it can happen at any time too!
This particular symptom is also called edema and it’s caused by a variety of factors. Though the main reasons are fetal development, the pressure generated by the growing uterus, and the extra water retention that happens during pregnancy. Let’s just say it’s not ideal to be swollen and uncomfortable while dealing with other pregnancy side effects and all the post-delivery planning!
Lucky for all pregnant women out there, a healthy prenatal diet can help to reduce swelling during pregnancy! Accompanied by a well-rounded diet, there are certain foods you can eat to avoid swollen feet, ankles, and hands. Though other ones in excess may make things worse!
No need to worry though, today’s article is dedicated to how to avoid swelling during pregnancy! Keep reading to get all the tips on what to eat, not to eat, and how to reduce this symptom!
Foods To Avoid Swelling During Pregnancy
Sweet Potatoes and Regular Potatoes
When you want to cut that swelling in half, potassium will be your new BFF! Potassium helps to reduce swelling thanks to the way it keeps your body’s electrolytes balanced. It also stabilizes your hydration status and battles extra fluid retention avoiding any pesky inflammation in your body! Both sweet potatoes and regular potatoes are some of the foods with the highest potassium content out there. So be sure to include them in your diet regularly, both sweet potatoes and regular potatoes are a great addition to your prenatal diet.
I know, it sounds too good to be true, but dark chocolate (enjoyed in moderation) is a very nutritious food! Chocolate is a great source of antioxidants, fiber, iron, copper, and magnesium. It also contains caffeine which should be limited during pregnancy, however, a 1-oz. dark chocolate bar will certainly not put you over the limit. The magnesium content of dark chocolate is what will help reduce your swelling, but again, it should be enjoyed in moderation.
We all know avocado is one of the quintessential health foods. But did you know it helps to reduce swollen feet? Women experience this symptom so often that they might think it’s an inevitable part of pregnancy, but as you can see many very familiar foods contribute to the battle against swelling. Avocados are another great source of potassium, and they have tons of other health benefits like their healthy fats, fiber, and folate. This food helps to regulate blood pressure, lower the risk of heart disease, and reduce fluid retention. Amazing, right?
Protein is a crucial part of a pregnancy diet! In fact, protein is quite literally the building block of your baby. It also helps with water retention as your body requires lots of proteins to perform its metabolic processes, especially during pregnancy. Swelling caused by a true protein deficiency is not super common during pregnancy, but as just mentioned, you should always be aware of your protein intake. As pregnancy progresses, your need for protein continues to rise.
Natural diuretic foods like asparagus, artichokes, celery, leafy greens, and carrots help to lessen swelling during pregnancy by causing an increase in the excretion of fluids through the kidneys. These foods are not only great to keep swelling low but are also provide plenty of vitamins and minerals that are important for pregnancy in general.
Foods That Cause Swelling During Pregnancy
Overly Salty Foods
It’s no secret that eating too much salt causes water retention! Seasoning your foods with salt is fine. But too much-processed foods like frozen meals can cause bloating and overall swelling which, during pregnancy, is the last thing you need! Not to cause too much confusion, but salt is actually needed in greater quantities during pregnancy which may be part of the reason why you are craving pickles. So, it is important to find the balance with salt, avoiding extreme levels but making sure you are using it while cooking fresh meals at home!
You probably knew that you’re better off limiting fast foods during pregnancy, but you may not have known these can specifically contribute to swelling! In today’s world, it is not practical to grow everything in your backyard and make all your meals from scratch. So that is not the recommendation here. Making your life easier in the kitchen is ideal especially if pregnancy is causing fatigue or swelling. However, it is best to rely on simple, 15-20 minute meals rather than frozen dinners or fast food. These foods will only cause you to feel worse. I’m sure you’ve experienced the difference in energy on a day when you hit your nutrient goals versus a day when you relied too much on snack foods.
Foods with High Sugar Content
Sugar has long been deemed the enemy of health, and while it certainly isn’t toxic, it is best to limit excessive added sugar during pregnancy. If you’re not quite sure where sugar might be hiding in your foods check out my article on the sneaky sources of hidden sugar. If you’re battling swelling during pregnancy, sugar intake is something to look at since sugar has been linked with inflammation, and too much inflammation can contribute to swelling.
As you know if you’ve read this blog post, I recommend pregnant women limit canned foods during pregnancy. Because of their high BPA content, canned foods in excess can have negative effects on your growing baby. But because they are typically higher in sodium, they may also contribute to swelling! If you do use canned foods on the occasion, be sure to choose low-sodium options and if it is something like beans, rinse them before using them.
How To Reduce Swelling During Pregnancy
Try Compression Stockings
Compression stockings are crafted to help control swollen feet, ankles, and lower legs. They work by squeezing your lower legs to prevent fluid retention in the area. And they’re quite cozy for winter too! Studies show they’re effective, so buy a pair and give them a try.
Elevate Your Feet Whenever You Can
Putting up your feet during pregnancy helps to maintain the blood flowing to and from your legs and heart. This is great for maintaining good blood pressure and decreasing water retention. It’s best to do it for at least 15 minutes at a time, three times a day. But as long as your legs are above your heart level, you’ll notice swelling starting to go away.
Stay Cool and Hydrated
If you want to reduce swelling during pregnancy, avoid hot and humid weather at all costs! Thanks to the annoying heat edema, your feet and hands might get more swollen than ever if you spend too much time out and about during summer. Especially if you’re pregnant! So turn on the AC, rest your legs above heart level, and drink plenty of water! Because, yes, water can flush the body of excess fluid. If you’re not sure how much water you should drink while pregnant, head over to this post!
Wear Comfortable Clothing and Footwear
I’m not saying you can’t wear heels while pregnant, I’m just suggesting you don’t if you are already feeling pain and swelling from being on your feet too long. You should be wearing comfortable clothing, especially comfy shoes if you want to avoid feeling puffy after standing all day long. High heels, tight jeans, and tight tops put your body under added stress which you definitely want to avoid when your body is already going through so many changes. Give yourself a break and opt for comfortable, but still cute clothing!
What are your favorite foods and tricks to avoid swelling during pregnancy?
Those are the foods you need to eat and avoid to reduce swelling during pregnancy! Swollen feet and hands are no joke, so be sure to follow these strategies to make the swelling go away. Though if you suspect your symptoms are something other than edema, please see your professional healthcare provider to make sure you’re in good health.
To learn more about foods to eat and avoid during pregnancy, join The Prenatal Nutrition Library! A searchable, evidence-based database of everything you need to know about nutrition for pregnancy.