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C. Joseph Cadle, MD

Swollen Hands During Pregnancy

Puffy fingers? Not so pleasant. Here's how to reduce that swelling and spot the signs of something more serious.

What are swollen hands during pregnancy?

It’s when your hands and fingers start puffing up. A sure sign this is you? Rings no longer easily slip on your fingers.

What could be causing my swollen hands during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, your body produces about 50 percent more blood and other body fluids to help baby grow. (In fact, about 25 percent of your pregnancy weight gain is from fluid retention—take that, double cheeseburger and fries!) And some of that extra fluid is going to fill up your tissues, especially in your hands, feet, legs and ankles. What do all these fluids do? They help soften your body, allowing your joints and tissues to open up and prepare for delivery. You’ll typically see more swelling around your fifth month, lasting through the third trimester.

When should I go to the doctor with my swollen hands?

If the swelling seems extremely sudden (overnight you’ve gone from slim to sausage fingers), call your doctor: This could be a sign of preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous combination of high blood pressure and high levels of protein in the urine.

What should I do to treat my swollen hands?

Keep an eye on your sodium intake, which can cause even more fluid retention, and try eating foods high in potassium (like bananas). Using cold compresses and drinking plenty of water can also help.
How will my swollen hands affect baby?

Once you deliver, the extra fluids (and the swelling they cause) should go away almost immediately. So you can use those newly svelte hands to give lots of love to baby!

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