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Managing Swelling during Pregnancy

Edema, also known as Shotha in Ayurveda is disorder that occurs due to water retention or accumulation of fluid in the body tissues causing pain and inflammation. The swelling or water accumulation can either be localized (affecting only a part of the body) or generalized ( affecting the whole body). Although the swelling can be seen in the face, hands, nose, but in most cases, edema is generally found in the lower extremities, particularly, the legs and feet.

During pregnancy, generally beginning in the seventh month, women experience swelling due to accumulation of body fluids in baby and mother. The body fluids increase (Pregnant women can be carrying an additional 20 lbs. of fluid in the third trimester) and accumulate in the tissues which results in increase blood flow and pressure on the uterus, pelvic veins and vena cava, the large vein. This flow and pressure cause swelling of body parts, particularly of feet and ankles due to gravity.

Ayurveda recommends a series of the diet and lifestyle based treatments that can be used to manage swelling during this time.

Diet Adjustments:
a. Avoid processed and packaged foods, which contain high amounts of regular table salt, and opt for whole foods and unprocessed sea salt that will help maintain appropriate electrolyte balance.
b. Add Coriander – Coriander seeds are considered to be an amazing water-retention remedy. Soak seeds overnight, boil the water the next day, strain and consume several times during the day. You can also try coriander tea.
c. Decrease your Caffeine Intake – Caffeine is a diuretic, which increases urination, leading to dehydration and fluid retention. Replace your caffeine with a cup of chamomile or peppermint tea for a boost of potassium.

• Lifestyle:
a. Sleep on your left side – While sleeping or resting, lying on your left side improves the circulation of blood by elevating the pressure from the ‘inferior vena cava’ vein, which will help reduce swelling in your feet.
b. Add Movement – Gentle exercise, like gentle yoga or swimming, keeps your blood and fluids circulating throughout your body so they have less of a tendency to settle in your feet.
c. Foot Massage with Medicated Oils – Arnica, ginger or mustard seed oils are great for ache sore muscles and joint. A daily gentle foot massage to soak in the oils will help relieve discomfort from swelling.

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