Swelling during pregnancy is a common ailment and can be very uncomfortable. When a woman is pregnant, her body goes through many changes. Some are beautiful and feel good. Others, not so much. Many pregnant women experience swelling due to their body producing 50% more blood and body fluids to meet the needs of the developing baby. Edema, or swollen ankles, during pregnancy can make you uncomfortable and bothered, but this is common and typical during the last trimester of pregnancy (weeks 28 – 42).
*Edema can be a sign of hypertension. This article is not a means of medical advice, diagnosing, or prescribing. If you suspect swelling as a sign of hypertension or pre-eclampsia, please call your care provider right away.
Why Do Feet Swell During Pregnancy?
The swelling that occurs in hands and feet during pregnancy is a result of extra fluid in the tissues of the body. It is normal to have a certain amount of swelling when pregnant, this is due to water retention. The changes in your blood chemistry also affect the shift of fluid into your tissues that causes fluid in ankles. This combined with the growing uterus and baby adds pressure on the pelvic veins and the vena cava, which is the big vein on the right side of the body that brings blood from the lower limbs back to the heart. The added weight of the growing baby and uterus and the increase of blood and fluid will slow down the return flow of the blood from the legs that causes the pull and brings fluid force from the veins to the tissues of the feet, thus “pooling” fluid and blood in the lower extremities. Swelling is increased and is more uncomfortable in the summer months.
After giving birth, the swelling of the feet will just eliminate as the body gets rid of too much fluid. You can also find yourself having to pee all the time and then sweating a lot in the first days after giving birth. This is body’s way of eliminating what is no longer needed for the pregnancy.
Help for Swollen Feet During Pregnancy
There are several things that you can do ease leg swelling during your pregnancy. You can actually help relieve the rising pressure on your veins by simply lying on your side with your leg raised on a pillow or bolster. Because the vena cava is on the right part of the body, lying on your left side will work best. Some things you can try at home to soothe your problem are as follows:
Elevate Your Feet Especially at the end of the day, after traveling on a plane or long distances in the car. Raise your feet up a wall or on your furniture. See the video at the bottom of this article for properly doing legs up the wall pose for pregnancy.
Massage It is believed that a foot massage during pregnancy can trigger labor. This is false. Unless the cervix is totally prepared and you are already having contractions, massaging your feet will not bring on labor. Massage your own feet or have your partner do it for you. Massage in an upward motion to move the circulation out of the feet and back up toward your heart.
Light Exercise Yoga (of course!), walking, swimming. Movement during pregnancy feels good and gets he blood lowing. Just avoid long walks and always wear comfortable, supportive shoes.
Magnesium The Mayo Clinic recommends taking 200 mg of magnesium supplements two to three times a day to get relief from water retention. *However, women suffering from kidney or heart disease should avoid taking magnesium supplementation. Magnesium supplementation is best by skin absorption using magnesium oil spray, found at any health food store or on Amazon.com.
Avoid Junk Foods and Processed Foods You know why…!
Don’t let swelling get you down and turn you into a pregnant couch potato. Enjoy the rest of your pregnancy and take care of yourself. As soon as your baby is born, the swelling will start to go away.