Edema (Fluid Retention)
While you might blame fluid retention on drinking too much water, that's not the cause. The real problem: Your body's ability to move fluids around isn't quite up to par during pregnancy. As a result, fluid is pulled down to areas below your heart, such as your legs and feet.
In most cases, fluid retention (aka edema) is more of a discomfort than something to worry about. But if you experience severe puffiness, alert your doctor so she can check you for preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous form of high blood pressure. To ease fluid retention, try "lying down with your feet elevated higher than your heart," Dr. Phelan advises. You might also try applying a cool compress to the area for 10 to 15 minutes to ease swelling.
Even if you're retaining water, keep drinking plenty of fluids and cut back on salty and starchy foods. "Eating lots of sweet or starchy things can raise your blood sugar, and that spike can pull more fluid into your bloodstream, making you more puffy," explains Wendy Wilcox, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Montefiore Medical Center, in the Bronx, New York. The solution: eat more lean protein and vegetables, and cut back on breads, pastas, and sweets. One thing that's an absolute no-no: "Diuretics. They can decrease blood flow to the uterus and cause stress and growth retardation to the baby," says Randy Morris, MD, medical director of IVF1, in Chicago, a center devoted to the treatment of infertility, recurrent pregnancy loss, and women's reproductive problems.
Wearing support hose can help. However, it also adds to the heat. A less steamy option: immerse yourself in cool water up to your shoulders for 30 minutes, according to research at the Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene, Oregon. Experts believe that the force of the water may push extra fluids back into the blood vessels.