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Swollen Feet During Pregnancy

Nutrition & Health

For women that are pregnant and with the hotter weather approaching us this summer for some women this may also mean physical changes, one of which can be swelling in the feet and ankles.It is often worse at the end of the day or if you have been standing or sitting for long periods.  While it’s a common occurrence for many expectant mothers, the discomfort and concerns associated with swollen feet can be distressing. Understanding why this happens and how to manage it can significantly ease this part of the pregnancy experience. However, if you are unsure and concerned always check with your GP or health care provider.

Why Do Feet Swell During Pregnancy?

Swelling in the feet, known as edema, is a result of the body retaining more fluid than usual. Several factors contribute to this phenomenon during pregnancy:

  1. Increased Blood Volume: The body produces more blood to support the growing fetus, which can lead to circulation changes, causing fluid retention.
  2. Hormonal Changes: Hormones like progesterone can cause blood vessels to relax, leading to increased fluid retention.
  3. Uterine Pressure: As the uterus expands, it can put pressure on blood vessels, impeding proper blood flow from the lower body.
  4. Gravity: The pressure from the uterus combined with gravity can hinder the return of blood from the legs to the heart.

Managing Swollen Feet:

While it might be challenging to completely eliminate swelling, there are various things your can do to help alleviate the discomfort:

  1. Elevate Your Feet: Elevating your feet whenever possible can aid in reducing swelling. Prop your feet up above heart level to encourage fluid drainage.
  2. Stay Active: Gentle exercise, such as walking or prenatal yoga, and swimming can enhance blood circulation and prevent fluid buildup.These low impact activities keep the blood circulating around the body.
  3. Wear Comfortable Shoes: Opt for comfortable, supportive footwear and avoid high heels or shoes that constrict your feet. Sometimes during pregnancy women will go up a shoe size due to the swelling of there feet.
  4. Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can actually help prevent fluid retention.
  5. Avoid Prolonged Standing or Sitting: Take breaks to move around if you’ve been sitting for a while, and avoid standing for extended periods.
  6. Compression Stockings: Consider wearing compression socks or stockings to reduce swelling by applying gentle pressure to your legs.
  7. Healthy Diet: Consume a well-balanced diet low in sodium, as excessive salt intake can contribute to fluid retention.

When to Seek Medical Advice:

While mild swelling is common, severe or sudden swelling could indicate a more serious condition like preeclampsia. Contact your healthcare provider if you experience:

  • Sudden or excessive swelling, especially in the hands and face.
  • Swelling accompanied by severe headaches, vision changes, or abdominal pain.
  • One leg swelling significantly more than the other, which could be a sign of a blood clot.

Did you experience swelling in the feet or ankles during your pregnancy?

Photo: Comzealimages/shutterstock

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