Many people suffer from swollen legs, feet and ankles during pregnancy. This is especially true during the third trimester of pregnancy. The cause of swollen legs and feet is water retention, which occurs when water from the bloodstream leaks into the surrounding tissue. Up to two litres more blood must be pumped through the body than usual towards the end of pregnancy. However, during pregnancy, the blood vessels are more slack and wide, and their walls are more permeable. This allows fluid from the blood vessels to enter the tissues and become lodged there. Swollen legs and feet are uncomfortable, but there is usually no reason to worry. However, you should take action if only one of your legs suddenly swells. Then you should get checked out by a doctor immediately.

Even though swollen legs and feet are normal during pregnancy, you should keep a close eye on your body. If only one leg is swollen, it may be because the baby's back is on that side, which makes it particularly difficult for water in the tissue to flow back to the kidneys in that half of the body. But if your leg swells from one day to the next and turns blue or hurts a lot, it may be an indication of a blood clot. So, you should contact your doctor or midwife as soon as possible to find out if there is a risk.

Water retention can also occur in the hands, wrists and fingers. This can be uncomfortable. When swelling presses on the nerves in your wrist, your fingers can fall asleep or hurt. This is called carpal tunnel syndrome. Running cold water over your wrist, for example, can help against the discomfort. Sometimes people also experience water retention in their face. After lying down for a long time, for example, your eyelids may be swollen.

Drinking a lot of fluids is important for a good metabolism. If possible, drink at least two litres of fluids a day. Also try to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. That means about five small servings a day, such as an apple or banana. Carrots, parsnips, cucumbers, asparagus, fennel, pineapple, grapefruit and watermelon, among others, can be effective again water retention.

Compression stockings are particularly firm support stockings. They support the veins as they transport blood. Compression stockings also prevent fluid from leaking from the blood vessels into the surrounding tissue. If you already have swelling and put on the stockings, this can help to better drain the stored fluid. Compression stockings will also help you if you suffer from varicose veins. In many cases, the costs for these stockings are partly or even entirely covered by health insurance companies. Ask your doctor if it is possible to write you a prescription for them.

You should avoid baths than are hot or too because heat increases water retention. Showers with alternating hot and cold water stimulate circulation. If blood circulates well, less fluid can leak into the surrounding tissue.

If you have to sit a lot during the day, you should give yourself regular time-outs. You should give your legs a quick stretch often to activate blood circulation. But even while you're sitting, you can do something to help. For example, circle your toes and move your feet. Even small movements stimulate blood flow. If you can, you should exercise to reduce water retention. Swimming and water gymnastics especially help against swollen legs.

Whenever you have the opportunity to do so, you should stretch out your legs or preferably put them up so blood can circulate freely. It's also a good idea to elevate your legs higher than the rest of your body at night. This allows blood to flow back to the heart more easily.