Today' story is about Sue and oedema – more commonly understood as fluid retention in the hands, ankles and feet.
Sue was the mother of a more complicated pregnancy – twins at 42, and by 30 weeks she was also experiencing some extra special conditions – gestational diabetes and higher blood pressure. For the safety of her and the babies as she approached the birth, her Obstetrician had limited what she was allowed to do in terms of work and exercise. Luckily for Sue, who said she would go stir crazy sitting at home every day waiting for the twins to arrive, her Obstetrician was very happy for her to go to her supervised exercise class. Glowing Expectations was not just a workout session, it was her social outing – and she did not miss it.
Sue was a client who brought a particular energy and inspiration to the class. So, observing that she seemed a little quiet and even 'pained' I asked her "Are you ok? Is something wrong?" At this point she burst into tears and told me that her feet were so swollen she could hardly get her runners on. But, she had squeezed her feet into them as she was no way missing her exercise class and she didn't think she would be allowed to come without wearing proper fitness shoes because of safety and hygiene rules.
Luckily we were in my studio and I make – and alter, the rules, as needed. Sue simply took off her shoes, went back to being her happy self and continued to exercise – albeit with modifications, as the swelling meant she could not bend at the ankles as you would need to, to do a squat.
Some fluid retention during pregnancy is normal, blood chemistry has changed and the growing uterus slows return blood flow from the lower body. Oedema tends to occur in the third trimester of pregnancy, during the hotter months and at the end of the day. It is also more common in women with excessive amniotic fluid or multiple pregnancies.
There are, however, some things you can do to help prevent or help manage it:
Activity – light to moderate exercise such as swimming and walking helps blood flow, whereas standing still for long periods encourages fluid to pool in the legs and feet, but don't forget to wear comfy shoes
Sitting – putting feet up on the couch or even a stack of books when sitting at a desk – and not crossing your legs, assists in the movement of fluid against gravity
Nutrition – whilst the temptation is to drink less water, this only encourages the body to hold onto what it's got, so drink up, as well as following a healthy diet low in salt, sugar and additives
Massage – light strokes upward, away from the feet can help drainage, for those who can reach, convince their partner to lend a hand, or book in with a professional therapist
Help – it is very important to seek medical attention if swelling is sudden, occurs in the face, or one leg is significantly bigger than the other
Ps Oh, and if you are wondering… Sue gave birth to healthy twin boys!