It’s normal to swell up during pregnancy, but that doesn't make it any more comfortable – Claudia Gocoul advises on how to cope with pregnancy swelling.

How to cope with pregnancy swelling

It’s normal to swell up during pregnancy, but that doesn’t make it any more comfortable – Claudia Gocoul advises on how to cope with pregnancy swelling.

You expected your belly to swell, but no one ever warned you your legs, ankles and feet could follow suit. As Kim Kardashian is painfully aware (who can forget the picture of her feet squeezed into those uncomfortable looking sandals?) oedema, or swelling, is a common side effect of pregnancy, which affects three out of four expectant mothers.

Why am I so swollen?

During pregnancy your body fluids increase to nurture your baby. Swelling occurs when those body fluids gather in your tissues as a result of increased blood flow. As inconvenient as it can be, undergoing more change when your body is already changing so much, slight swelling is a necessary evil which shows everything is going well. It’s not just your legs and feet that will swell, your face might be puffy and you’ll more than likely notice a change in your hands too.

Is this normal?

Mild swelling caused by oedema is super common and in most cases harmless. That said, it’s also completely normal to skip swelling all together – we’re looking at the other lucky one out of four here! If you do notice swelling and it persists for more than a day at a time it’s time to contact your GP. Excessive swelling, along with other side effects including elevated blood pressure, excessive weight gain and protein in the urine can be a sign of pre-eclampsia.

It’s getting worse!

Oedema becomes a problem for most women toward the end of the pregnancy. You might well be on the home stretch but all of that extra blood that you are carrying can make the finish line feel miles away. Most expectant mothers will find swelling is worse toward the end of the day and during the summer when the weather is warm.

how to cope with pregnancy swelling.

When will it stop?

As unfair as it sounds, swelling won’t disappear the second you hold your baby in your arms. All of the extra blood doesn’t leave the body during delivery. This, coupled with hormonal changes and fluid retention will mean the swelling you’re experiencing is here to stay for a little while longer. It’s not all bad news, the swelling should subside within a week. That said, it doesn’t help you when you’re trying to fit into your favourite brogues. With that in mind here are our top tips for battling the unexpected bulge.

• It’s often easier said than done but try to avoid long periods sitting down. If you work in a desk job try to get up and walk often. Similarly, if you’re always on your feet try to sit down and rest at regular intervals.

• When sitting, elevate your legs where possible. What better excuse is there to put your feet up in the office than carrying a small human?

• Indulge in some light exercise. We’re not advising taking up a brand new training plan but pregnancy yoga and regular short walks should do it.

• It goes without saying that you should wear comfortable shoes and avoid tight socks where possible. You’re just prolonging the problem!

• Flush out all that extra water with-you guessed it-water! It sounds counterintuitive but keeping yourself hydrated will keep the swell at bay.

When to seek medical attention

According to the NHS, you should seek medical attention immediately if your face, feet or hands swell up all of a sudden. A pregnancy condition known as pre-eclampsia can cause sudden swelling, so if this does happen to you contact your midwife, doctor or hospital immediately. Pre-eclampsia can be very serious for both mother and baby, so if you do have it you will need to be monitored carefully.

Other pre-eclampsia symptoms include:

  • severe headache
  • problems with vision, such as blurring or flashing before the eyes
  • severe pain below the ribs
  • vomiting

More like this:

Embarrassing symptoms of pregnancy
11 pregnancy pains and discomforts and how to treat them
12 pregnancy body changes


Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.



Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….