Five years ago, when I conceived, my doctor advised me to take short walks to keep my body and the unborn baby active. The doctor cautioned me to keep myself busy, especially after eating. But when I got tired, I would put my feet on a stool to prevent them from swelling. Being active was helpful, as it kept me energised, and therefore I was able to have the baby without any complications.
Dr Alex Kakoraki, a general practitioner at Murchison Bay hospital in Luzira, says sitting for long hours during pregnancy, causes symptoms such as leg swellings, back ache and lower abdominal pain. It also keeps the baby inactive, which sometimes continues after birth.
“It is not good to spend long hours seated in one place because it leads to poor venous returns (VR). Venous return is the flow of blood back to the heart. So, when a pregnant woman sits for long hours, the unborn baby keeps pressing the blood vessels, hence leading to a poor blood flow,” says Dr Kakoraki.
Kakoraki further notes that sitting for long leads to poor positioning of the baby, and slows digestion.
His advise to expectant mothers is to always take short breaks in between tasks, or engage in simple exercises. When seated, an expectant mother should raise her legs on a pillow or stool, in order to improve blood flow. It is not only sitting for long periods that can cause an expectant woman’s legs to swell. Some conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart and kidney problems may also lead to similar symptoms.
“It is advisable to see a doctor as soon as possible, if such a condition happens,” says Dr Kakoraki.