Get proper rest, Oedema is real were the words of Dr Iwinosa Ehigiator, a gynaecologist at the Estate Clinic, Benin.
According to several researches Oedema is the medical term for fluid retention in the body. It is a gradual swelling of hands, feet and face during pregnancy, it is different from pre-eclampsia
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Benin on Wednesday, Ehigiator advised pregnant women to get adequate rest to avoid oedema adding that it is dangerous and needs doctor’s immediate attention.
Ehigiator said, “Oedema is swelling in the hands, face, legs, ankles and feet. During pregnancy, the body produces approximately 50 per cent more blood and body fluids to meet the needs of the developing baby. Swelling is a normal part of pregnancy that is caused by this additional blood and fluid.
“Normal swelling, which is also called oedema, is experienced in the hands, face, legs, ankles, and feet. This extra retention of fluid is needed to soften the body, which enables it to expand as the baby develops.”
According to him, extra fluid also helps prepare the pelvic joints and tissues to open for delivery.
“The extra fluids account for approximately 25 per cent of the weight women gain during pregnancy,” the Doctor said.
He also noted that oedema could be experienced at any point during pregnancy but it tends to be noticed around the fifth month and could increase in the third trimester.
On some of the likely causes of oedema in pregnancy, the gynaecologist said standing for long periods of time, having long days of activities, diet low in potassium, high level of caffeine consumption and high level of sodium intake are factors responsible for oedema.
Ehigator said if you experience sudden swelling in your hands and your face, it could be a sign of pre-eclampsia.
“It is important to contact your healthcare provider about any sudden swelling,” he said.
He said that oedema could be avoided by eating foods high in potassium including bananas; and also by avoiding caffeine.
Others are standing for long periods, minimising outdoor time when it is hot, resting with one’s feet being elevated and avoiding high heeled shoes.
In a related development, a midwife Dianne Reynolds from Preeclampsia Foundation in Canada noted that, “Lower extremity oedema is an almost universal finding in late pregnancy.” So please don’t beat yourself up over it! Instead, focus on relieving the symptoms when you can, and know when to contact your practitioner.
She said “If you think your face is getting excessively puffy, find a picture of yourself from just before pregnancy to share with your healthcare provider. If the swelling in your hands and feet becomes severe, you may notice pitting oedema (when you press your thumb into your skin, an indentation remains for a few seconds) or discoloration of your legs. If you suspect this kind of oedema, notify your healthcare provider.”