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Edema is the accumulation of fluid in places where it does not normally accumulate. It's also referred to simply as "fluid retention", which is exactly what it is. Edema is a totally normal symptom of pregnancy, which most pregnant women experience to a lesser or greater degree. It is caused by hormones and an increased blood volume. Edema might look and feel a bit strange, but in the majority of cases it is harmless. What do you need to know about fluid retention when you are expecting a baby?

You are most likely to notice fluid retention on your ankles and feet. Edema is likely to get worse if you do not move around a lot, so those who are looking for a cure should first try a simple change of positions. If you are on your feet a lot, try sitting, or better, lying down for a while. If you have not been very physically active one day and see that your edema has worsened, going for a walk might do the trick. Drinking adequate amounts of water can also help edema. It might sound weird that the retention of excess fluid could be cured by drinking more, but it is true dehydration contributes to edema, and is bad all-round for pregnant women, or anyone else for that matter.

Don't allow yourself to get to the stage where you are actually thirsty, and drink water and tea throughout the day. When you are struggling with swollen ankles and feet, wearing comfortable and non-restrictive clothes made out of natural materials can also offer relief. When fluids can flow through your body more easily, edema is less likely to become a problem. Comfortable shoes (and not heels!) can also help fight fluid retention. If you are wondering if edema is ever a problem, I just want to say that it can be, in rare cases. A swollen face and swollen hands could be one of the preeclampsia symptoms and signs. If you notice this, or if you have edema that just will not go away, check in with your healthcare provider.

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