Many women experience swelling in their lower extremities during pregnancy. “Where did my ankles go?” is a common refrain among expectant moms.
During pregnancy, our bodies produce and retain more fluid. And a growing uterus puts pressure on certain veins in the pelvis, impeding blood circulation. This in turn leads to swelling in the legs, ankles and feet.
Pregnancy weight gain puts more pressure on your feet, contributing to discomfort.
Add it all up and tired, swollen tootsies are the net result. The good news is this problem usually disappears after delivery. But for now, here are some ways to get relief.
Take some time off your feet. Sit instead of standing, and try to keep your legs elevated. Avoid crossing your legs. This will help manage swelling and avoid getting varicose veins.
Move your legs. Go for short walks and do ankle rotations at your desk to get blood and fluid moving.
Avoid constricting clothing. Keep your wrists and ankles free by avoiding tight clothing, cuffs or jewelry.
Sleep with elevated legs. Rest them on a pillow. Side sleeping is better than on your back.
Keep cool to relieve swelling. Stay indoors during hot days. Cool your legs and feet with cold compresses, footbaths and soothing leg spritzes and gels.
Soak in a large tub or swim in a pool (if you can). The weight of water pressing against your body can help reduce swelling. Life Brand also has a line of Epsom salts that can help relieve aches and pains.
Wear comfortable shoes. Runners and cross trainers are good, so are any breathable, low-heel, supportive shoes. Avoid high heels, ballet flats and flip-flops.
Safety Tip: In rare instances, swelling can be a sign of a more serious problem. If swelling is severe or very sudden, is only in one leg, or is accompanied by severe headache or blurred vision, you could have a serious condition called preeclampsia.
If swelling is accompanied by pain or tenderness in the calf or thigh, this could indicate a blood clot. Both conditions are serious (but treatable), so contact your doctor immediately.