Pregnancy: Swelling and stiffnes of hands

I am 28 and our first child is due any day. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis four years ago. In the last couple of weeks of my pregnancy, they ache terribly and are stiff all of the time, and they are at their worst when I first wake up. Any suggestions since I can't take the high doses of ibuprofen that I am normally prescribed for this condition?


Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

What you are suffering from what sounds like fluid retention or edema in the hands. If your joints are already compromised, this can be very disabling.

Edema of the hands and feet is normal during the last few weeks of pregnancy, as long as it is not associated with elevated blood pressure, headaches, abdominal pain, problems with vision which would point to preeclampsia.

The only relief is usually found in resting on your left side so that the kidneys work better, increasing your intake of calcium and fluids. Mild exercise is also recommended such as walking as this helps to mobilize the fluid.

I hope baby decides to come soon - the only sure cure.

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