Among the negative aspects of pregnancy are some disorders, generally minor, which can reduce the quality of life of the woman. These include the swelling of the lower limbs: the legs are weighed down and there is a feeling of fatigue. What are the remedies available to future mothers to cope with this condition? We asked Dr. Valeriano Genovese, gynecologist at Humanitas San Pio X.
Why do the legs become swollen?
The swelling of the lower limbs can be traced back to the mechanical and biochemical changes in women’s bodies, as well as exposure to environmental factors. Surely – adds Dr. Genovese – there is a genetic predisposition to the onset of this disorder but there are some factors that can exacerbate the condition: warm climate, sedentary lifestyle, spending many hours standing”.
In pregnancy, the woman’s body undergoes some hormonal changes: in the first quarter the amount of progesterone hormone increases and this promotes venous congestion; moreover, it increases the flow of blood towards the uterus to nourish the fetus; the uterus compresses the blood vessels of the legs interfering with venous return. Finally, the increase in body weight is discharged onto the legs, weighing them down”.
Furthermore, changes in metabolism occur, e.g. as a result of kidney function, which promotes water retention by inducing the formation of edema at the lower limbs. Liquids leaking from the walls of the blood vessels compress them and cause typical swelling.
What can you do?
Here are some measures to reduce swelling of the legs during pregnancy:
“Starting from the first trimester of pregnancy it may be useful to keep your legs elevated using a cushion at the bottom of the bed, perhaps under the mattress, at about fifteen centimeters to enjoy a comfortable rest. We remember that pregnancy can also be disturbed by the onset of insomnia”;
This also applies during the day: “It only takes a few minutes to lay down from time to time during the day, with the legs elevated to facilitate circulation”;
“Practicing physical activity to stimulate the heart to pump and promote blood return from the lower limbs. For example, it is useful to stroll, not too fast, even thirty minutes a day. Even pedaling on the bike can be beneficial”;
“Lymphatic draining massages can be effective provided that the gynecologist does not contraindicate them. However, it will hardly be possible to resort to it in the third trimester of pregnancy”;
“To follow a healthy diet and thus not to exceed it with the consumption of sugars and fats but try to consume more whole grains, fruits and vegetables and dried legumes to ensure the right contribution of fiber useful to regulate the intestinal function”;
“Prevention of swollen legs is another reason to stop smoking. Quitting smoking is first and foremost an essential action to protect the health of the fetus,” concludes Dr. Genovese.