Swollen Feet During Pregnancy

March 2, 2012 by  
Filed under Pains and Discomforts, Swelling


Many women experience swollen feet and ankles during pregnancy, particularly during the second and third trimesters. This swelling of the feet is known as edema.

What Causes Swollen Feet?

Swollen Feet During PregnancyPoor circulation and water retention is generally what causes swelling in the feet.  Your lower body is under a tremendous amount of pressure as your baby grows.   You have large arteries and veins that travel through your pelvis down your legs, and the increasing size of your belly puts pressure on them, slowing your circulation and making it more difficult for your body to return blood and fluid up from your legs.

Your center of gravity also changes, shifting your weight differently on your feet, which adds extra tensions and helps trap fluid.

Swollen legs, feet, and ankles, are considered fairly normal during pregnancy.  Many women develop edema during their pregnancy, and this does resolve on its own following child birth.

You may find your feet swelling more quickly during the summer on hot days, later in your pregnancy, and towards the end of the day.

Your feet and ankles may not only swell, they may have a tendency to take on a purplish color.

How Can I Ease My Swollen Feet?

There are a number of things you can do to help minimize the amount of swelling in your feet.  You can decrease edema by remaining active.  Exercise helps move fluids, and can reduce inflamed feet, but be sure to engage in gentler types of exercises.  Walking or swimming are particularly good exercises you can do, and you may find yoga to be helpful as well.  Flexing and rotating your feet and ankles regularly throughout the day, keeping your joints mobile will help the fluid to move.

Be sure to drink plenty of water.  Keeping your body well hydrated will improve your circulation.

Wear comfortable shoes which are supportive, but not tight.  Proper support of your feet will help keep your feet from aching. Avoid wearing shoes with heels or shoes that are tight, and avoid wearing tight socks that could constrict your circulation.

Try to take breaks throughout the day and elevate your feet.  When elevating your feet, it is important to get your feet up higher than your waist.  This will allow gravity to gently help improve your circulation and the blood flow back up your legs.

You may want to try wearing support panty hose.  It is important to wear the type of support hose that goes from the toe all the way up to the belly.  Ankle, calf or thigh high hose will not force the fluids up high enough, and could restrict the circulation rather than help it.

Reducing salt intake can be helpful.  You should not eliminate all salt from your diet, some salt does help balance your fluids, just be sure you are not eating salt in excess.

Soaking your feet in cool water may provide some temporary relief.

When lying down, be sure to lay on your left side with a pillow placed between your knees.  This will help encourage better circulation.

If possible, try to avoid standing for prolonged periods of time.  Edema can become notably worse in the evenings, after a long day of being on your feet.  If you must sit at a desk for work, try to take more frequent breaks to stand and stretch and wiggle your toes, and avoid crossing your legs as it causes reduced circulation.

While some swelling during pregnancy is considered normal, if you have swelling that comes on very suddenly or excessively, swelling that is only in one leg, or swelling of the face, be sure to call your doctor right away.  That could be a sign of  a more severe problem.

 

 

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