Several factors contribute to foot and ankle swelling during pregnancy. Your body retains more fluid during pregnancy and your growing uterus puts pressure on your veins. This problem with your circulation prevents blood from returning to the heart and so causes a build of fluid in your extremities, especially your feet where blood flow is also impeded by gravity. Hormonal changes also play a role.
Foot and ankle swelling during pregnancy is common and usually goes away after delivery.
However if the problem is causing pain or concern try the following:-
• Stay off your feet. Avoid standing for long periods. When you can, sit with your feet up and occasionally rotate your feet at the ankles and gently flex your feet to stretch your calf muscles. Better yet, lie down with your legs elevated. Keeping your feet up means that gravity can aid the heart in getting blood back into the body.
• Sleep on your left side. This takes pressure off the large vein that returns blood from the lower half of your body to your heart (inferior vena cava). It also might help if you elevate your legs slightly with pillows.
• Wear compression stockings. Your health care provider might recommend wearing supportive tights or stockings during the day.
• Be physically active every day. Take walks, ride a stationary bike or swim laps in a pool.
• Stand or walk in a swimming pool. Although there’s little research on the use of water pressure for foot and ankle swelling, standing or walking in a pool seems to help compress tissues in the legs and might provide temporary relief from swelling during pregnancy.
• Wear loose clothing. Tight clothing can restrict blood flow. Don’t wear socks or stockings with tight bands on the ankles or calves.
• Drink plenty of water.
Some research suggests that foot massage and reflexology, which involves applying pressure to certain areas of the feet, hands and ears, might help decrease foot and ankle swelling during pregnancy. Also, swelling doesn’t mean cutting back on how much you drink.
Although mild foot and ankle swelling during pregnancy is normal, sudden swelling that is painful — especially if it’s in one leg only — could be an indication of a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis). A sudden increase in swelling also might mean that your blood pressure is higher than normal. Both conditions require prompt evaluation and treatment
If your feet or legs become painful it’s time to visit the doctor. It may be nothing more than normal fluid retention but as we always say at Baby Arabia – better to be safe than sorry.