“Is the salt in my diet causing me to swell?” This is a question we get asked a lot as dietitians working with expectant parents and their families. In truth, it’s not the salt (or sodium) in your diet that causes normal swelling in pregnancy.
When you’re pregnant, especially in your last months of pregnancy, it’s normal to see some swelling in your face, hands, feet and ankles. This swelling is related to the extra body fluid your body has made (about 50% more when you count both fluid and blood). When the baby starts to grow, the fluid gets pushed out to your hands, feet and so on.
Though it’s always a good idea to limit the salt (and sodium) in your diet, taking salt out of your diet won’t reduce your swelling. Also, severe swelling along with high blood pressure, and protein in your urine is a serious medical condition called preeclampsia. If you suspect you have this, it’s important that you get care from a doctor and follow their advice on managing the risks and symptoms. Cutting salt out of your diet will not prevent or resolve it.
You can try these tips to reduce normal swelling caused in pregnancy:
- Drink water and stay hydrated. Many expectant parents we see drink less thinking the extra fluid will cause more swelling. In fact, the opposite is true. If you keep your body hydrated with water, it won’t hold on to so much fluid.
- Raise your feet when resting. Use pillows to prop your feet up. This can help move fluid away from your feet and ankles.