My Body Blew Up and That is Why You Need Water

I have had a wonderfully uneventful pregnancy this time around, not that my last one was fraught with difficulties, but I was younger and in college, and to eating for two literally.  I would have a loaf of white bread on the train in the morning (the only thing to quell my nausea), then 2 or maybe 3 Chipotle Vegetarian Burritos for lunch, and something for dinner (usually Mediterranean Garbanzo Beans).  I gained more than 85 lbs when all was said and done, though nearing the end the last 10-15 lbs was mainly water weight from a case of severe edema. 

I have never been a big water drinker. I try and impress upon clients the fact that they need to drink half of their body weight in fluid ounces per day (if I manage two 8 oz glasses I am impressed). Sure example of do what I say, not what I do.

So this time, after my first midwife exam and a urinalysis which ended in a discussion about me being off the stick chart dehydrated I put my effort into drinking more water, on top of getting iron to deal with pretty deficient levels.   I got my iron back up in a month after I added b12 to help with absorption (during the first month I took iron supplements, ate tons of kale, spinach, Himalayan Raisins, you name it with no change to my levels) and managed to put myself on the other end of the stick chart for hydration (took a lot of effort and flavored bottled water from Hint and Bot).

Then at my last visit I had another pissing match with the stick test.  I had been very lackadaisical with my water intake, had added another job teaching a cardio class to my schedule, and was working out 5 times a week.  A week after that visit is when I had my bleeding episode after a cardio class and deemed it necessary at 8 months super pregnant, to cut back.  The problem here being that I drink a great deal of my water while teaching, since I make the students take sip breaks, so do I.

It is no wonder then that on Wednesday before my night Yoga class what appeared to be only my right leg blew up to twice its normal size and was throbbing painfully.   I was worried and elevated it to no avail.  Fearing it could be a sign of a blood clot, it was recommended I go to the ER, which I debated long and hard since I just got insurance through the state. Headed out to the ER to be on the safe side and after the quickest admittance to that hospital ever, had an ultrasound.  Turned out it was just severe edema of the foot and ankle.  I felt like an idiot.  I felt betrayed by my body, that I was not aware of what was going on, and worse I felt like I had wasted time and money from going to the hospital and having to miss a class.

I was cleared to travel for our vacation to WI, as long as I got out of the car every 45 minutes or so and drank fluids. We took the SUV and I folded the second row down to elevate my foot (still swollen, it looked like I was smuggling a navel orange in my ankle joint).

There isn’t much for a pregnant gal to do at a water park, so I spent a great deal of time in the 10 person Jacuzzi in our room sipping water.  About 2 hours in I had to use the washroom every 20 minutes, I was like a leaking faucet.  By the next morning I must have drained all of the fluid out of my legs (yes legs, turns out now that I see what they look like  not swollen, they were both swollen). Yes, hydrostatic pressure does work to help eliminate fluids.

I had thought for the past two weeks that I had just started gaining a lot in my legs – I complained almost every day to my husband that it is ridiculous to have to gain weight in a place where the baby isn’t. Turns out I was retaining a decent amount of fluid.

A great help to fluid retention if you can not get into a pool above your waist is corn silk.  Corn silk is a natural diuretic my midwife recommended to me, though it should not be used during breastfeeding.  The 2-3 recommended caps don’t work, I take 5 of them 3 times a day and within 2 hours I am eliminating the excess water. I re-capsulate me own because I can only find gelatin caps at the local store.  You can even make your own by boiling the corn silk inside corn but I lack the time and patience to shuck all of that corn.

The lesson here is, fluid retention is not just limited to pregnant women, anyone who gets dehydrated and has an imbalance in minerals can wind up retaining a decent amount of water – think of high school biology classes and osmosis.

I am not a medical professional, please contact your medical professional before trying any of the anecdotes offered here.

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