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Pregnancy Weeks 33-37 - Page 4

Healthy Pregnancy Newsletter
Healthy Pregnancy Newsletter - Comfort Zone

Fluid retention

Mild swelling and fluid retention (called edema) is quite common during pregnancy, especially in these last weeks. Some women will notice that their feet and ankles become puffy by the end of the day.

Be sure to tell your health care provider about any swelling you experience, particularly if you have severe or generalized swelling, especially in your hands or face, or a sudden weight gain of more than 1 pound. These symptoms may indicate a complication known as preeclampsia, a form of high blood pressure in pregnancy. Other symptoms of preeclampsia include severe or constant headaches, blurry vision or seeing spots, and pain in the upper right area of the abdomen. Early treatment of preeclampsia can help prevent the condition from becoming worse and prevent it from causing other complications.

Ways to alleviate normal swelling include:

  • Lie on your left side while sleeping
  • Elevate your legs while sitting
  • Wear support hose
  • Wear comfortable clothing
I'm having trouble getting comfortable while sleeping. Is there any position that's best for me and my unborn baby?

As your unborn baby grows and increases the size and weight of your uterus, finding a comfortable sleeping position can be a challenge. Lying on your back should be avoided due to pressure on the inferior vena cava, a major vein that returns blood from the lower body to the heart. Long-term pressure on this vein may limit the blood flow to the placenta. In addition, this position can increase pressure on your back and intestines and may be uncomfortable. Sleeping on your stomach during pregnancy should also be avoided, because of pressure on the fetus.

The best sleeping position for a pregnant woman is on her side, especially the left side. This allows for maximum blood flow to the unborn baby and improves kidney function in the mother. Improved kidney flow helps to reduce any swelling. To get more comfortable on your side, try placing a pillow between your knees and one behind your back. Don't panic if you wake up and find you are on your back, just turn over to one side.


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