Pregnancy symptoms can be pretty debilitating at times. From extreme fatigue to morning sickness, back pain to migraines - it's not exactly a bed full of roses. But one symptom that isn't talked about enough is swollen feet, or to use the technical name, edema.
You are bound to notice mild swelling in your body throughout pregnancy, but it might feel particularly severe in your ankles and feet, thanks to the laws of gravity.
Why causes your feet to swell during pregnancy?
Your ankles and feet can swell when you're pregnant because your body fluids are increasing, in order to nurture both you and your baby. The fluids accumulate in your tissues due to the pressure of your growing uterus on the pelvic veins. It all sounds very technical, but all it means is that it causes you to experience swollen ankles and even hands too.
When can I expect this to happen?
The majority of women experience swollen feet and ankles around week 22 to week 27 of pregnancy. After that, it, unfortunately, can stick around until you're due to give birth. But 1 in 4 women don't experience any swelling at all!
The amount of swelling you experience can vary by the hour. It increases in the evening and is affected by the weather, for example, it's often worse in the heat.
Swelling in pregnancy - when to worry:
In the majority of cases, swelling in pregnancy isn't dangerous. The swelling of the ankles and feet caused by edema is harmless and perfectly normal! You should contact a doctor if you experience excessive swelling as it could be a sign of pre-eclampsia. If this were the case, it would be accompanied by a variety of other symptoms such as elevated blood pressure, rapid weight gain and protein in the urine. So if your blood pressure and urine are normal (they're checked at each prenatal visit), there's nothing to worry about!
How can you reduce the swelling?
- Elevate your legs when sitting - this helps
- Sleep on your side
- Try to take some pregnancy-friendly exercise such as walking or swimming. This keeps the blood flowing instead of pooling.
- Avoid long periods of standing or even of sitting - variation is key. Take a 5-minute stroll every hour if you're sitting down a lot.
- Don't wear tight elastic socks or stockings
- Wear COMFORTABLE shoes and get some orthotic inserts while you're at it.
- Drink lots of water! Drinking eight to ten glasses of water a day will help rid your system of excess sodium and other waste products, minimizing swelling.
- Ask your partner for a foot massage...
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