Swelling of the Ankles and Legs during pregnancy

About one-third of the normal weight gain during pregnancy results from an increase in the amount of water held by the tissues. This excess fluid tends to pool into the de- pendent part of the body, so that the feet and ankles first show evidence of it. Many normal pregnant patients complain of swelling of the ankles, the lower legs and feet toward the end of the day. This is aggravated by periods of standing and is materially worse in warm weather. A patient with these symptoms should elevate her feet whenever possible during the day—prop them on a chair or bench, or stretch out on the bed or sofa. Larger shoes may have to be worn in late pregnancy to allow for the swelling of the feet. If the feet have a tight feeling and burn, immersing them in cold water gives relief. Ordinarily the swelling of the leg and foot subsides during the night, and by morning the normal contours of the ankle are visible once again.

The fingers are the next commonest site of pregnancy tissue swelling, which causes them to feel stiff. Frequently the puffiness of the fingers makes rings uncomfortably tight, and they may be difficult to remove. If so, soak the hand in cold water; then hold the finger pointing upward and soap the finger and ring before attempting to remove it

Swelling of the face may normally occur to a limited extent, causing features to look relatively thick and gross.

If the tissue swelling is moderate, particularly if it is confined to legs and fingers, and unassociated with either an excessive or very rapid weight gain, it has no special significance. On the other hand, if it is associated with either, especially when it involves the eyes, notify your doctor at once. Eliminating free salt from your diet, or, better yet, following a diet poor in salt, will reduce fluid in the tissues, diminishing the swelling. Your doctor may find it necessary to prescribe a diuretic, a drug to increase the elimination of fluid as urine. Today we possess an excellent drug, Hydrodiuril, for the removal of excess tissue water; the drug is taken by mouth.