Oedema in Pregnancy

Oedema is an excessive collection of fluids in the body tissues. Subcutaneous oedema is a common occurrence in later pregnancy, manifesting with puffiness or swelling in the hands & feet.  This will usually be mild and primarily affects the feet & ankle, reflecting the effect of gravity on the extra bodily fluids generated during pregnancy.  This type of oedema is more pronounced after standing for long periods, in warm weather and as the day progresses, but will disappear with rest overnight.

Patient Advice:

  • Limit standing or sitting for long periods & when resting, lying on left hand side to aid peripheral return.
  • Sit or lie with legs elevated – avoid positions such as crossing legs and ankles as this will constrict circulation
  • Exercise ankles – rotations x 5 times in each direction
  • Moderate exercise – sitting, swimming or yoga
  • Support stockings – take off at night
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Take off tight fitting rings


1) Avoid eating too much raw or chilled foods

Foods that help to reduce oedema:

Corn, celery, lettuce, watercress, grapes, mandarin oranges, mangoes, watermelons, aduki beans, sardines, lentils, pea & jasmine tea.

2) Drink Barley water


  1. Pour 1 lt of water over 30 grams of barley grains
  2. Simmer until liquid has reduced to half a litre
  3. Add lemon juice, strain through a sieve and drink up to 4 cups per day

3) Fluid intake important – 6-8 glasses per day of h2o

4) Avoid excessive use of salt

NOTE:  Mild oedema is considered normal as part of the body’s response to the increase in fluids that occur during pregnancy.  However, if this oedema is persistant (does not disappear after resting or is still present first thing in the morning) and is accompanied by a rapid unexplained weight gain or swelling in the face, it requires medical monitoring.  Please go to visit your GP or midwife to put your mind at rest.

Information from this article was written by Debra Betts –

For more information on Debra & her work please go to: http://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz

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