Edema (swelling of the hands, feet, wrists and ankles) is a common problem while pregnant. It is caused by a collection of excess fluid in the extremities. When you’re pregnant, your body naturally retains more water so some degree of swelling on your feet is perfectly normal.
There are several reasons why edema occurs. Among them are:
- Blood chemistry fluctuations can cause fluid to collect in the tissues of your extremities.
- The swelling of your uterus applies pressure to veins in the pelvis and to the vena cava.
The vena cava is a very large vein that carries the blood from your feet and legs back to your heart. When it is constricted, the return of the blood from your legs to your heart is slowed down and this can cause swelling in the feet and ankles.
Luckily this is a temporary state of affairs that will probably only plague you during the last three months of your pregnancy. When you give birth, your circulation should return to normal and any swelling of the feet and ankles should dissipate.
If you have put on quite a bit of extra weight, have excessive amniotic fluid or are expecting twins, triplets or more you may experience edema earlier in your pregnancy.
Will the swelling disappear immediately after giving birth?
It can take a little bit of time for swelling of the feet and ankles to recede. You will find that your body is working hard to get rid of excess fluid you give birth. This may mean frequent trips to the bathroom and a lot of perspiration during the first week or so after you deliver your baby.
Can edema be serious?
It is perfectly normal to experience swelling of the feet, ankles and hands during pregnancy; however, if the swelling is excessive and dramatic, you should contact your health professional.
Additionally, if you notice puffiness and swelling around the eyes this could be cause for alarm. Excessive, sudden or dramatic swelling can be an indication of preeclampsia. This is a very serious and life-threatening condition.
Normal edema is mild to moderate and symmetrical. If you have severe swelling or lopsided swelling (e.g. one limb is more swollen than another) you should contact your doctor or midwife right away. This is especially true if tenderness and pain are present in the legs. Pain in the calf or in the thigh could be an indication of a blood clot.
Do I just have to live with the swelling?
There are number of things you can do to prevent and reduce edema during pregnancy. Follow these tips to help keep your feet and ankles slim and trim while you are pregnant!
- Begin by eating properly. If your pregnancy is planned, include a healthy, balanced whole foods diet in your planning. Being in good physical condition when you conceive and maintaining good condition throughout your pregnancy will help reduce your risk of experiencing swollen extremities and other complications.
- Include light to moderate exercise in your pregnancy planning and in your every day pregnancy experience. Fifteen to twenty minutes a day of walking, cycling, swimming, stretching and other light gentle exercise will help improve your overall circulation and ward off swollen feet and ankles.
- Practice good posture. Standing and sitting without slouching and slumping encourages good circulation.
- Avoid sitting or standing in the same position for long periods of time. Take breaks every 15 or 20 minutes to walk around and stretch.
- Keep a small stool at your workplace to elevate your feet while working, and elevate your feet higher than your heart while relaxing. This will help promote good circulation.
- When you are sitting for a long period of time, be sure to stretch your legs and feet frequently. Just extend your legs in front of you while sitting and rotate your feet first one way and then the other. Place your feet flat on the floor in front of you and flex from heel-to-toe.
- Wear comfortable shoes for swollen feet or wide-fit sandals + socks that fit properly. Avoid wearing any clothing that is too tight or restrictive as this can interfere with good circulation.
- Talk with your doctor about using maternity support pantyhose. The gentle support from waist to toe can feel refreshing and helps to prevent swelling. You should put on this garment before you arise in the morning. In this way, you can prevent swelling of the ankles before it begins.
- Make pure, filtered water your beverage of choice and drink plenty of it. Staying well hydrated will help keep your body from retaining water.
- Consider a foot spa but always consult with your doctor first to check if it is safe for you.
Remember it’s just temporary!
Having ankles and swollen feet during pregnancy can be quite uncomfortable; however, there are a lot of steps you can take to keep the swelling under control. Remember that it is just a temporary sign of your condition. If you take good care of yourself before and during your pregnancy, side effects such as these will disappear quickly when your baby arrives.
Disclaimer: Pedi Reviews does not provide medical advice, treatment or diagnosis.