While many expectant mothers love their expanding bellies, the majority also experience foot swelling and detest it. That's because it's not only uncomfortable, but embarrassing as well. Like most women, we don't consider our feet to be a body part that should expand, especially during pregnancy.
What’s Causing Foot Swelling?
As the baby grows, it’s normal for the mom’s body to grow as well. This happens because the body is generating extra fluid to support the fetus. Circulation also slows down, adding to the fluid buildup. The growing fetus also puts pressure on the lower body’s veins, which impairs the return of the blood to the heart, thus the foot and ankle swelling. Pregnancy also produces the hormone relaxin which helps ligaments, tendons, muscles, and joints to relax. This is a good thing as relaxin also helps your pelvis to open. However, the hormone also loosens the tendons and ligaments. Other factors include sodium intake, potassium deficiency, and lack of exercise.
How to Relieve Pregnancy Foot Swelling
The extra weight and hormones not only cause swelling, but also change the structure of your feet. Swelling will subside a week or two after your baby is born, but it will never be the same. Swollen feet are not painful, but for some women, they can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. Try these simple solutions to reduce puffy feet.
Cool Your Feet
To prevent and reduce swelling in your feet, immerse your feet, including the ankles, in cool water for 20 minutes. You can do this a few times a week in a bathtub, pool, or even a large bowl. Foot soaking is relaxing and has many health benefits such as improving circulation and alleviating sore muscles. Just make sure that the temperature is not ice cold as it can have adverse effects. What’s more, immersing your feet in cool water helps you deal with the heat during summer as well.
Improve Blood Circulation While Resting
Pregnant moms have a million things to do, and with all the prepping you must do before the baby arrives, it’s important to put your feet up as well. Literally. While it’s important not to sit for long periods, standing up for a long time has disadvantages as well. Elevate your legs, preferably above heart level while you’re watching TV, reading a book, or simply just resting. This “drains” the fluid and decreases the pressure on your veins. This position improves blood circulation as the veins no longer have to work extra hard to send the blood back to your heart. If you’re uncomfortable with the position, a maternity pillow can help.
Use Compression Socks
This specialized hosiery is often used to reduce pain related to varicose veins, prevent blood from pooling in the leg veins, improve circulation in the legs, and decrease swelling in the legs and ankle, among other uses. Usually, people who are standing the whole day and patients suffering from deep vein thrombosis are often seen wearing compression socks. Pregnant women can benefit from using 15-20mmHG compression socks that help in moving excess fluid back into the veins and the rest of the body. Although compression socks compress and increase pressure in your legs, you should avoid socks that are too tight at the top as it can aggravate the swelling by blocking blood circulation around that area. Tight socks can also increase the risk of developing blood clots.
Reduce Sodium Intake
Salt reduction not only helps in reducing the swelling in your feet and ankle but has a host of health benefits as well. Too much salt is bad for our health! As much as possible, adults are advised to take less than 5 grams of salt a day to reduce blood pressure and decrease the risks of heart attacks, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. Avoid processed foods and canned goods as these two have the most sodium content. And yes, you can get rid of salt in your recipes by adding savory herbs such as oregano, thyme, and rosemary.
Puffy or swollen ankles and feet are common in pregnancy and can be prevented by making lifestyle changes, eating nutritious food, and getting plenty of rest. Call your doctor immediately if you’re experiencing sudden, severe, and painful swelling, as this could be a symptom of more serious health conditions.