During normal pregnancy total body water increases by 6 to 8 liters, 4 to 6 liters of which are extracellular, of which at least 2 to 3 liters are interstitial (1 : situated within but not restricted to or characteristic of a particular organ or tissue —used especially of fibrous tissue). At some stage in pregnancy 8 out of 10 women have demonstrable clinical edema.
Signs of edema include:
– Swelling or puffiness of the tissue directly under your skin, especially in your legs or arms
– Stretched or shiny skin
– Skin that retains a dimple (pits), after being pressed for several seconds
– Increased abdominal size
If left untreated, edema can cause:
– Increasingly painful swelling
– Difficulty walking
– Stiffness
– Stretched skin, which can become itchy and uncomfortable
– Increased risk of infection in the swollen area
– Scarring between layers of tissue
– Decreased blood circulation
– Decreased elasticity of arteries, veins, joints and muscles
– Increased risk of skin ulcers
Specific Reflexology protocols taught by the Maternity Reflexology Consortium allow for symptom free adaptations of regular gains during pregnancy, management of gain levels throughout pregnancy, and management and reduction of high level gains to reduce symptoms and discomfort in pregnancy related to Edema.
Sources: PMID 9185112, Mayo Clinic