Swelling hands and feet? Rings and shoes barely fit? Feeling puffy all over? Edema is common during pregnancy and results when fluids accumulate in the body's tissues. You might find swelling is worse in the evenings or at night.
Although minor swelling during pregnancy is considered normal, it's usually uncomfortable. You can prevent and alleviate edema with Chinese Medicine, including things like acupuncture, herbs, and some lifestyle adjustments.
How TCM approaches edema in pregnancy
Traditional Chinese Medicine views swelling during pregnancy as the result of an improper flow of vital energy (also called qi) and an excess accumulation of fluids in the body.
Herbal remedies and acupuncture can help improve water metabolism in the body. It's like this: The better your water metabolism, the less swelling you'll have.
For the nerd elite, an acupuncture point called SP 9 is considered the #1 point on the body for draining excess dampness. Fu Ling (Poria) is an herb that is commonly used in formulas to treat edema, as it's very good at draining excess water as well as strengthening digestion and improving sleep.
An experienced TCM practitioner will use specific acupuncture points and herbs to improve your water metabolism, and treatment will be catered to your specific condition and needs.
Diet and nutrition tips for immediate relief
- Avoid refined table salt, opt for high quality sea salt instead.
- Eat garlic and onions to encourage circulation.
- Celery, artichokes, parsley, and grapes help you go pee.
- Eat dandelion greens! These bitter greens help the body metabolize extra fluids. As an added bonus, they help maintain hormone balance. Dandelion greens can be served fresh in salads or tossed in omelets or stir-fried right before serving. Be sure to choose clean food like pesticide-free, organic greens usually available at farmer's markets or health food stores.
Lifestyle hacks for pregnancy related edema
Stress reduction and general relaxation during pregnancy can help prevent minor edema from developing into a serious health issue.
And while acupuncture in can help reduce stress, you can also make little changes in your day-to-day that promote relaxation and reduce stress:
- Elevate your feet for at least 20 minutes, 3-4 times a day to help you stay relaxed and reduce swelling at the same time.
- Moderate exercise can help as long as your condition is not too severe. Swimming is particularly beneficial.
- Gentle Swedish massage can improve circulation and promote relaxation.
Edema is usually a very minor condition, but it can become part of a more serious condition if left untreated. In addition to TCM treatment and dietary adjustments, it's very important to adjust your lifestyle to control stress throughout your pregnancy. Not only will your pregnancy be more enjoyable, but you'll be increasing the odds you and your baby will enjoy a healthy delivery.
What natural solutions helped you manage edema in pregnancy?