Salt intake during pregnancy
Some of my friends love cake, cookies and all kinds of sweets. Not me – I’m a crunchy salty kind of gal. Wave a pretzel, chip or popcorn under my nose and I’m in munch trouble. When I was pregnant, I was told to cut out most salt from my diet, but that’s not necessarily what I’d hear today.
Health care providers used to recommend limiting your salt intake during pregnancy because they thought it added to the swelling that occurs in most pregnant women. Today, however, most experts believe that a certain increase in body fluids is important and normal during pregnancy and that a mild amount of salt in your diet is actually beneficial because it can help maintain adequate fluid levels.
Extra fluid in your body helps prepare you for pregnancy and delivery. It allows your tissues to handle the growth of your baby. It also prepares your pelvic area for labor and delivery. Much of the weight you gain during pregnancy is from extra fluids, which your body usually gets rid of in the days after delivery.
Some things are important to avoid during pregnancy (raw fish, soft cheeses, alcohol), but a normal salt intake seems to be something most pregnant women don’t need to worry about. Mind you, this is not a license to eat a bag of pretzels every night!
Important note: Call your health care provider if you have severe or sudden swelling, particularly in your hands or in your face around the eyes. This could be a sign of a serious condition called preeclampsia (also called toxemia) that causes high blood pressure and excess fluid retention. If your blood pressure is rising, you may be told to do a number of things, including dialing back the salt.