Water retention or fluid retention can be a pesky and uncomfortable pregnancy symptom. From puffy, swollen ankles to heavy legs and itchy feet, excess water can find plenty of ways to make pregnancy even more challenging, but fortunately there are some things you can do to alleviate the discomfort. Ready to give water retention the heave ho? Read on!
We’ve spoken to leading dermatologist, Dr. Lian Mack to learn more about why water retention causes mums to be so much trouble and what treatments or lifestyle changes can help you to prevent or manage it.
What is fluid/water retention?
We all know water retention when we see it – be it puffy fingers, the emergence of dreaded ‘cankles’ or swollen skin that feels uncomfortably tight, but what is fluid retention exactly and why do we suffer from it during pregnancy?
In fact, water retention is linked to the amount of blood circulating in your body. Dr. Lian Mack says that
“in order to support the growing foetus, blood volume in pregnancy triples, so your body retains more water to support the increased blood supply.”
It’s this increase in blood supply, combined with the usual surge of pregnancy hormones and the growing pressure of your expanding uterus that can lead to swelling and that tight feeling of the skin. As Dr. Mack explains, “the return blood flow from your legs to the heart is decreased which can lead to problems such as puffy legs and ankles or swollen veins.”
To put it another way, your legs are missing out on their usual circulatory action while your body is simultaneously holding onto more water, leading to all kinds of less than desirable side effects.
Is it normal to have water retention?
Water or fluid retention as it is also known, is very common during pregnancy with as many as 80 per cent of women experiencing it in some form with most experiencing it from the latter part of the second trimester. While any mum to be can suffer from it, pregnant women who spend a lot of time standing – at work for example – are often at a higher risk of developing water retention.
Is it possible to prevent fluid retention during pregnancy?
There are a few things you can try to minimise water retention during pregnancy.
1. Drink more water
Drinking more liquids can actually help your body to retain less water. Staying hydrated is especially important during pregnancy and the WHO recommends pregnant women should drink between two and three litres of water a day. And all those extra trips to the loo will come in handy with this next tip…
2. Take short walks
Ideally you’ll walk further than back and forth to the bathroom, but the idea of taking frequent short walks can be beneficial in keeping swollen ankles under control.
3. Lift those legs
Elevating your legs can help rebalance blood flow – so that means keeping them higher than your heart. It’s a great excuse to stack some cushions on the end of the sofa and binge watch Netflix. What’s not to love?
4. Compress to impress
Dr. Mack says wearing compression stockings can also help relieve swollen ankles and that sore feeling of heavy legs. Josie, 34, suffered from swollen ankles in pregnancy and says,
“I found it best to put them on first thing in the morning as otherwise my feet and ankles would swell more as the day went by.”
5. Soothe your skin
Topical products can also provide relief and comfort. Dr. Mack recommends looking for products that have anti-inflammatory ingredients like green coffee and ingredients that cause blood vessels to constrict such as cucumber, which is known to have a cooling effect on the skin.
6. Pick a side
Sleeping on your side can also help to reduce water retention and swelling. Ideally try to sleep on your left side as this puts less pressure on your liver and kidneys.
Don’t let the puffiness get you down
Pregnancy is such a special time but it can be overwhelming and water retention woes can often add an unwelcome layer of stress on top of everything else when you’re growing a baby. That’s why we’re so passionate about giving mums practical yet pampering products that work.
Our new Can Can Water Retention Milk is made with antioxidant rich and anti inflammatory ingredients. It has been made and tested by mums and is midwife approved to help soothe that sensation of tightness and discomfort. With cooling cucumber it instantly refreshes your skin so you can enjoy the good parts of pregnancy that much more – those little kicks and dreaming about what your bubba will look like? Don’t let water retention get in the way of a positive pregnancy. Are you ready to give swelling the shove?