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How Pregnancy Changes Your Body


What's going on: Extra blood volume and the pressure of your expanding uterus on the veins in your groin cause blood and fluid to pool in your lower body, which in turn makes varicose veins bulge and ankles balloon. What's more, extra pounds, the weight of your growing uterus on certain nerves, and possibly a calcium shortage can bring on painful nocturnal leg cramps.

What to do about it: To ease swelling and minimize varicose veins, wear maternity support hose (not knee-highs), chug fluids to help flush out your body, avoid prolonged standing or sitting, and kick back with your feet up at least as high as your waist a few times a day. Let your doctor know right away if swelling is severe or accompanied by sudden puffiness in your face or hands, since these symptoms can signal dangerously high blood pressure. If leg cramps are a problem, try doing a few gentle calf stretches before bed and make sure you're getting at least 1,000 mg of calcium a day (a warm glass of milk at bedtime will get you a third of the way there).