How To Reduce Swelling In Feet And Ankles During Pregnancy

How Can I Reduce The Swelling

How to Relieve Swollen Feet and Ankles When Pregnant

Swelling doesnt usually pose any threat during pregnancy, but it can sure be annoying and uncomfortable.

Here are 12 ways you can reduce the swelling in your feet and ankles and get some relief:

  • Prop Your Feet Up: Be sure to take some time to rest and lounge with your feet above your hips and heart. Remember to avoid lying on your back and try not to cross your legs. If you have a desk job, it might be helpful to have a step stool or stack some books under your desk so you can keep your feet propped up.
  • Lay on Your Left Side: Lying on your side, particularly your left side, will relieve increased pressure on your blood vessels and facilitate the elimination of excess fluid and waste through the kidneys.
  • Avoid Standing and Sitting for Lengthy Periods: Changing positions can really help to keep your circulation flowing and prevent blood from pooling in your feet and ankles. Try using a treadmill desk if you have a desk job, and make sure youre taking time out of your day to sit and relax if you have a job that keeps you on your feet.
  • Avoid Caffeine: Try to keep your caffeine intake to a minimum to avoid dehydration and swelling. While a cup of coffee a day is considered safe during pregnancy, you need to make sure youre drinking plenty of water to compensate .
  • Wear Comfy Shoes: Find the best shoes for pregnancy that stretch and are easy to slip on to accommodate your puffy feet. Put the high heels in storage, and avoid clothing thats tight around the ankles and calves.
  • Can Pregnant Women Do Anything To Reduce Or Prevent Swollen Ankles

    I already feel uncomfortable and self-conscious as my pregnancy progresses, but now my ankles are the size of my knees! Why does this happen and what can I do about it? Sonya

    Those swollen ankles are a normal, if frustrating, woe for many expectant women. During pregnancy, the extra fluid in the body and the pressure from the growing uterus can cause swelling in the ankles and feet. The swelling tends to get worse as a woman’s due date nears, particularly near the end of the day and during hotter weather.

    Although sudden swelling in the face or hands may be a sign of a condition known as preeclampsia, mild swelling of the ankles and feet is usually no cause for concern.

    To help reduce and/or prevent those annoying swollen ankles, try these simple steps:

    • Avoid standing for long periods.
    • Prop up your feet when sitting and avoid crossing your legs.
    • Stretch often when sitting for long periods.
    • Lie on your left side when sleeping.
    • Put maternity support stockings on before getting out of bed in the morning.
    • Drink plenty of water.
    • Swim or stand in a pool up to your neck.
    • Exercise regularly.
    • Try to stay cool in humid or hot weather.

    Ways To Manage Swollen Legs And Feet During Pregnancy

    Of all the body parts you expect to get bigger during pregnancy, feet might not be at the top of your list. But most pregnant women experience swelling in their lower legs and feet.

    If your ankles appear puffy and your shoes dont feel quite right, youre not imagining things. The additional fluid and blood your body creates to support healthy fetal growth also slows down blood circulation. That can cause blood to accumulate in your lower extremities, causing swelling.

    During pregnancy, you also produce more relaxin, a hormone that helps your tendons, ligaments, joints, and muscles you guessed it relax. While relaxin helps your pelvis open to give birth, it also loosens the tendons and ligaments in your feet.

    The combination of extra weight and hormones during pregnancy can cause your feet not only to widen but also flatten and lengthen. Leg or ankle swelling likely will decrease a week or two after your baby is born, but your feet may never be the same again.

    Studies have shown that pregnancy can cause a permanent decrease in your arch and increase in foot length typically only after a womans first pregnancy.

    While more research is needed to determine whether these structural changes can be prevented, there are a few things you can do throughout your pregnancy to reduce swelling and feel more comfortable.

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    When Does The Swelling Typically Start

    Swelling can occur at any point throughout your pregnancy, but most women begin to notice it during month five. It often increases during the third trimester as you get closer to delivery. Those who have excessive amniotic fluid or are carrying multiples will probably notice the swelling sooner.

    With my first baby, the swelling was so bad in the third trimester that I would wear my UGG slippers to work because nothing else fit.

    Editor’s Note:

    You might also have some postpartum swelling from IV fluids during labor and the crazy hormone changes going on in your body. Both of these can cause you to retain fluids in your extremities after delivery. The swelling often worsens before it gets better but is typically a very normal part of the recovery process .

    With my first baby, my swelling was worse at three days postpartum than throughout my whole pregnancy.

    Normal Or Abnormal Swelling

    Swollen Feet During Pregnancy: Causes, &  Treatments

    Most pregnant women have swollen feet and ankles at some point, and this is perfectly normal. However, there are times when swelling could indicate something more serious.

    Contact your midwife, doctor or hospital immediately if:

    • swelling is there at the start of the day or doesn’t go down when you rest
    • your face or hands are swollen
    • the swelling is more than you have had before

    These are warning signs for pre-eclampsia, which is high blood pressure caused by pregnancy. This is a very serious condition both for you and your baby, so call your doctor or midwife as soon as possible. Don’t wait for your next regular appointment.

    If one leg is more swollen than the other, this could suggest a more serious problem with one of your veins, such as deep vein thrombosis. Again, contact your doctor or midwife as soon as possible.

    Most swelling is a normal part of pregnancy and will usually go away after you’ve given birth. However, if you’re concerned about anything, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, talk to your doctor or midwife.

    You can also call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 to talk to a maternal child health nurse.

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    Go Easy On The Caffeine

    To help combat swollen feet, even more, replace your morning cup of coffee with some chamomile or peppermint tea. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it increases how often you use the bathroom. When youre pregnant, this can easily lead to dehydration and fluid retention. Both chamomile and peppermint tea also have many beneficial trace mineralsincluding potassium.

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    When Should I Be Concerned About Swelling During Pregnancy

    Some swelling during pregnancy is normal. Sudden swelling in your face and hands or around the eyes could be a red flag for a serious condition called preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is excessive swelling and accompanied by other symptoms such as high blood pressure and high levels of protein in your urine. Be sure to check with your doctor immediately if you notice any such inflammation, they will need to perform other tests to confirm a diagnosis.

    Also of concern is sudden and painful swelling in only one leg during pregnancy, as it could signify a blood clot, also known as deep vein thrombosis . DVT tends to only affect one leg, usually the left leg and will likely cause a feeling of heaviness or pain when standing. Your skin may also be red or warm to the touch around the area of concern. You should seek prompt evaluation and treatment from your doctor if you suspect DVT as it is a life-threatening condition.

    Most swelling during pregnancy is typical of the normal changes your body experiences when pregnant. Explore more about pregnancy nutrition and what to expect developmentally.

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    Get A Prenatal Massage

    Dr. Winiarz recommends prenatal massages to his patients. Studies show that prenatal massages, specifically a lymphatic drainage massage, can reduce swelling in the lower extremities. While prenatal massages are generally deemed safe for your baby, get the all-clear from your healthcare provider before making an appointment.

    Extra Features To Consider When Shopping For Shoes During Pregnancy

    Swollen Feet Pregnancy FIX (STOP Pregnancy Edema Fast!)

    When looking for shoes during pregnancy, consider the following extra features:

    1. Comfort: Make sure that whichever shoes you choose are comfortable to wear for long periods of time. This includes providing adequate arch support, cushioning in the soles, and proper sizing that fits your feet correctly.

    2. Material: Look for breathable materials such as leather or canvas which will help keep your feet cool and comfortable as your body temperature rises due to pregnancy hormones. Additionally, make sure the material can provide structure and support while still being flexible enough to accommodate swelling.

    3. Heel Height: It is best to avoid shoes with spiked or high heels since this could cause potential balance issues as your belly grows. Choose flat or low-heeled shoes instead so you can walk safely without having any problems with your center of gravity shifting forward or putting strain on your ankles and knee joints.

    4. Flexibility: Make sure the sole is flexible enough to move with you when walking so it wont inhibit your stride or put extra pressure on the backs of your heels from rubbing against the shoe itself. As well, look for straps with some give to them so they can stretch out easily over swollen feet and ankles without becoming too tight when expanded upon repeatedly thanks to fluid shifts throughout pregnancy.

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    Where And When Will I Get Swelling

    The swelling should be only in your feet and ankles. Your fingers might get a little larger enough to make any rings feel tight but they shouldn’t be obviously swollen.

    Your feet and ankles are likely to swell later in the day. This is mainly due to gravity any extra fluid in your body will sink to your feet and ankles, especially if you spend a lot of time on your feet.

    Swelling is also more likely to happen later in your pregnancy.

    Gradual swelling isn’t harmful to you or your baby, but it can feel uncomfortable.

    Take An Epsom Salt Bath

    Anecdotal evidence suggests that Epsom salts, also known as magnesium sulfate, draw out toxins from the body and reduce inflammation, but there isn’t much scientific evidence to support those claims. However, taking an Epsom salt bath may still provide some relief. “Soaking in this type of bath may also help relieve muscle tension in your legs,” says Dr. Winiarz. He recommends bathing for about 15 minutes.

    Be sure to keep your bath at 100°F or below to avoid raising your body temperature, particularly in the first trimester.

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    What Can I Do To Reduce Swelling In Pregnancy

    Try these tips to ease swelling in pregnancy:

    While swollen feet and ankles during pregnancy doesn’t feel great, take heart: It will pass soon after you give birth.

    Learn more:

    BabyCenter’s editorial team is committed to providing the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information in the world. When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you’re seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies.

    Nemours. 2021. Can Pregnant Women Do Anything to Reduce or Prevent Swollen Ankles?

    Mayo Clinic. 2020. What causes ankle swelling during pregnancy and what can I do about it?

    National Health Service. 2021. Swollen ankles, feet and fingers in pregnancy.

    Irion JM, et al. 2011. Water Immersion to Reduce Peripheral Edema in Pregnancy. Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy: May/August 2011 Volume 35 Issue 2 p 46-49.

    What Does Pre Eclampsia Pain Feel Like

    Swollen Ankles during Pregnancy

    Abdominal pain is a common symptom of preeclampsia. It is classically felt in the upper-right abdomen, below the ribs â roughly where the liver is located, but can often also be felt below the breastbone, a region known as the epigastrium, and may at times also radiate towards the right hand side of the back.

    Read Also: How Early Can Symptoms Of Pregnancy Show

    Tips To Help Reduce Swelling During Pregnancy:

    Tip #1: Watch the foods you eat.

    “Its smart to eat foods that are high in potassium and limit caffeine and sodium. A prenatal supplement can also help you reach your potassium target during pregnancy .”

    Tip #2: Drink more, not less.

    “Drinking water can reduce fluid retention by flushing out your system. Experts recommend about 12 cups a day.”

    Tip #3: Limit time on your feet.

    “If feet swelling during pregnancy is a problem for you, avoid standing for extended periods of time and keep your feet elevated whenever possible.”

    Tip #4: Sleep on your side.

    “Try to sleep on your left side to take the pressure off your inferior vena cava, the large vein responsible for transporting blood from the lower half of your body to your heart.”

    Tip #5: Adjust your wardrobe.

    “Choose comfortable shoes over high heels. And ask your doctor if compression stockings or tights could provide added support to ease swelling.”

    Tip #6: Find cool relief.

    “To lessen pregnancy swelling and any discomfort, apply cold compresses to swollen areas. Some experts also suggest taking to the pool for reliefthe water pressure may help compress tissue in the legs, providing some temporary relief from swelling.”

    Reduce Pregnancy Puffiness And Swelling By Eating Right

    Yes, you hear this all the time, but it is especially important when pregnant. So, what exactly does eating right mean?

    Reducing your salt intake will go a long way to keep down the swelling. Be especially conscientious about eliminating prepackaged foods. It may seem easy to grab them when fixing a quick meal, but they are loaded with salt, fat, and sugar. Canned foods, snacks, chips, and luncheon meats should be off the menu during pregnancy. Sorry, ladies.

    It is also recommended to avoid caffeine and carbonated drinks as they tend to cause water retention.

    Try to eat more lean proteins like fish, poultry, turkey, or beef. You can also pair these proteins with lots of fresh or frozen vegetables.

    Increase your potassium by eating bananas, sweet potatoes, avocado, and kidney beans. Potassium helps to reduce swelling by keeping your body chemically balanced.

    Recommended Reading: How To Dress When Pregnant

    What Causes Swollen Ankles And Feet During Pregnancy

    During pregnancy, edema occurs when body fluids increase to nurture both you and your baby and accumulate in your tissues. Due to normal pregnancy-related changes, the water content in your body will increase about 6.5 liters, or up to 15 pounds, by term. This water goes towards the growing fetus, placenta, amniotic fluid and maternal blood volume.

    Edema is the result of this increased blood flow and the pressure your growing uterus exerts on the pelvic veins and your vena cava .

    This causes you to experience this oh-so-annoying swelling particularly swollen ankles and feet . You might also sport more swelling in your feet if your weight gain has been on the faster side.

    In addition to edema, there’s another factor at play if your shoes are feeling a big snug: Like the rest of the ligaments in your body, the ones in your feet are loosening thanks to the hormone relaxin, allowing the bones to spread out.

    If you stick with your old shoes during pregnancy, your feet may feel pinched. After giving birth, the swelling will recede and weight will fall away. And although your joints and ligaments will tighten up, your feet may remain permanently larger up to a full shoe size. Shoe shopping, anyone?

    What Causes Swelling During Pregnancy

    Swelling in Pregnancy: How to Alleviate Your Aching Feet and Hands

    During gestation, your body produces 50 percent more blood and other fluids to meet the demands of your growing baby. Their production aids in both fetal development and delivery. These fluids soften tissues in surrounding areas to accommodate your baby as they increase in size while priming your joints and pelvic area for labor.

    Unfortunately, this process leads to swelling, or edema, which can affect your face, hands, ankles, legs, and feet. Hormonal changes and impaired blood flow are also responsible for pregnancy swelling.

    To alleviate its effects, try to stay off your feet as much as possible, particularly in the evening. Gravity aggravates your symptoms by causing excess fluids to collect in your ankles, legs, and feet.

    Here are a dozen foolproof tips for reducing swelling during pregnancy:

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    Should I Be Concerned About Swollen Feet And Ankles During Pregnancy

    It’s normal to have a moderate amount of swelling in the ankles and feet during pregnancy. You may even notice mild swelling in your hands and fingers. Sometimes, however, sudden and severe edema can signal a more serious issue, including preeclampsia or a blood clot known as deep vein thrombosis .

    Both preeclampsia and DVT can be dangerous for you and your baby, but they are manageable. The sooner you get checked out, the better.

    • Headache that doesn’t go away
    • Sudden weight gain
    • More than moderate swelling of your hands or face
    • Nausea or vomiting after week 20 of pregnancy

    Keep in mind that DVT almost always affects only one leg. Be sure to call your provider right away if you have signs of DVT, which include:

    • Significantly more swelling in one leg than the other
    • Pain or tenderness in one calf or thigh, which may feel like cramping or soreness
    • Warmth in the affected leg
    • Redness or discoloration in the affected leg

    In some cases, DVT can progress to a pulmonary embolism , which is when a blood clot moves to a lung. PE can be life-threatening, so call 911 or head to the hospital if you experience any of the following symptoms:

    • Sudden shortness of breath

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