Fluid retention, otherwise known as oedema, can be at best slightly uncomfortable, and at worst, make simple things like standing and walking almost impossible without intense pain. Many women who experience pregnancy-induced oedema find it alleviates rapidly once baby arrives, but the interim can be a difficult time. If the oedema continues beyond pregnancy, it is wise to discuss this with your healthcare professional as there could be another underlying cause or dietary deficiency. While it can affect the entire body, the areas most commonly affected are hands/wrists and lower legs, ankles and feet.
Here are some natural ways to help ease the impact of oedema as you journey through your pregnancy.
- Ensure you drink plenty of caffeine-free fluids. Particularly beneficial are smoothies and NingXia.
- Smoking should be avoided entirely.
- Regular consumption and over-indulgence of alcohol should be avoided, both for the baby’s sake, and the mother’s. Apart from the devastating affect that heavy alcohol consumption can have on an unborn baby, alcohol dehydrates the mother and this can lead to worsening of fluid retention.
- Excessive salt consumption can cause oedema, even outside of pregnancy, so it can be helpful to reduce your salt intake if fluid retention is a problem during your pregnancy.
- Gentle stretching and regular exercise will help to keep blood flowing through your ankles and feet. Swimming, cycling, walking (where it’s not painful to do so) and Pilates are excellent choices.
- Keep your feet elevated when sitting and gently massage the areas that are affected by oedema.
- Avoid long distance travel after 28 weeks.
- If you’re heavily pregnant in summer, avoid being outside during the warmest part of the day.
- Regular gentle massage (particularly with a good aromatherapy blend) can have a huge positive impact by helping to improve circulation, ease discomfort and reduce swelling. If it’s something you can manage, I’d recommend fortnightly remedial massage to help ease areas of tension and increase blood flow to lower legs and wrists/hands. Your massage therapist should be aware of this, but be sure to ask him/her to avoid stimulating acupressure points that have traditionally been associated with inducing labour.
Oedema massage blend (recommended for nightly application and for use by your massage therapist):
In a 10 mL glass roller bottle, add:
2 drops Eucalyptus
2 drops Peppermint
2 drops Lemon
2 drops Cedarwood
Top with carrier oil of choice
Roll over affected areas and massage gently in the direction of the heart.
Dilution: 2.5% (half the recommended adult dilution)
Application methods: topical/massage
Lemon oil can be photosensitive when applying topically – avoid use prior to being out in the sun.
Peppermint oil shouldn’t be used with babies and toddlers – use caution if small children are around during the massage or apply once they’re in bed for the evening.
For more information about using aromatherapy to support your body during pregnancy and birth, CLICK HERE.