Pregnancy puts your body through plenty of changes: Some beautiful—like your protruding, rounded tummy—and some not so pretty, like swollen ankles and acne. While most of these unappealing symptoms end after your baby's birth, there are a few things you can do to make some of these embarrassing pregnancy woes a little more bearable.
"During pregnancy, 50 percent or more of women have edema, or swelling, of their extremities [typically hands and feet] and face," says Sherri Ruerup, CNM, director of nurse midwifery at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago, Illinois.
Changes in your diet and lifestyle may ease the swelling. Ruerup recommends:
- Drink at least eight to 12, eight-ounce glasses of water a day
- Decrease your sodium intake
- Choose loose-fitting clothes that won't restrict your body
- Consider investing in some support stockings to aid in circulation
- Avoid standing or sitting in one position for too long, which causes blood to pool and aggravates swelling.
Katherine S. Puls, a CNM in private practice in Evanston, Illinois, who has been delivering babies for over 36 years, advises pregnant women with edema to go swimming. Although this suggestion is not based on clinical trials, Puls says, "swimming seems to improve circulation and neutralize the effects of gravity." (Plus, many moms say it just feels incredible, too.)
While swelling is common in pregnancy, in some cases it can indicate a complication. For most women, it's merely a nuisance, but talk to your healthcare provider if you are concerned.
Those same hormones—progesterone and estrogen—that give you that "pregnancy glow" may also cause acne. "All your glands are more hyperactive in pregnancy (due to increased hormones)," says Ruerup, "including your sebaceous glands in your skin on your face."
If your skin is normally dry, the increased activity of the facial oil glands may give you a healthy look. If your skin tends to be oily, the added oil may lead to zits.
Not to worry: You can use over-the-counter remedies such as topical creams or gels with Benzion to treat the acne, according to Ruerup. For more severe acne, your healthcare provider can recommend prescription medications. Ruerup's own recommendation is Liquid Brewer's Yeast, which is applied topically. (Find it at your local health food store.)