How To Stop Feet From Swelling While Pregnant:
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
Should I Be Concerned About Swollen Feet And Ankles During Pregnancy
It’s normal to have a moderate amount of swelling in the ankles and feet during pregnancy. You may even notice mild swelling in your hands and fingers. Sometimes, however, sudden and severe edema can signal a more serious issue, including preeclampsia or a blood clot known as deep vein thrombosis .
Both preeclampsia and DVT can be dangerous for you and your baby, but they are manageable. The sooner you get checked out, the better.
- Headache that doesn’t go away
- Sudden weight gain
- More than moderate swelling of your hands or face
- Nausea or vomiting after week 20 of pregnancy
Keep in mind that DVT almost always affects only one leg. Be sure to call your provider right away if you have signs of DVT, which include:
- Significantly more swelling in one leg than the other
- Pain or tenderness in one calf or thigh, which may feel like cramping or soreness
- Warmth in the affected leg
- Redness or discoloration in the affected leg
In some cases, DVT can progress to a pulmonary embolism , which is when a blood clot moves to a lung. PE can be life-threatening, so call 911 or head to the hospital if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Sudden shortness of breath
Home Remedies For Swollen Feet During Pregnancy
It may seem counterintuitive, but walking is a great remedy for swollen legs and ankles during pregnancy! Exercise helps reduce swelling all over, and even brief walks can do this.
Another of my favorite exercises to do to help reduce swelling throughout the lower body:
The Legs-Up-The-Wall yoga pose. Of course, for pregnancy it needs to be modified. Here is a YouTube video that demonstrates this:
I swear by this pose to reduce swelling in my feet, ankles, and legs. Furthermore, I think that it has helped me avoid spider veins as well which can pop up during pregnancy.
Also, soaking your feet in cool water is another option for feet and ankles.
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What Foods Help With Bloating During Pregnancy
To avoid bloating during pregnancy:
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
- Have a well-balanced diet full of whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, and other fiber-rich foods.
- Avoid high-fat foods.
- Eat fewer foods that cause gas, including beans, cabbage, legumes, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
Ways To Reduce Foot & Ankle Swelling During Pregnancy
Pregnancy can be one of the most beautiful experiences a woman goes through. However, it does come with some unwanted and unwelcome side effects. This includes extra weight gain due to swelling and bloating of different parts of the body. Do you know, that women can gain up to 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy?
The increased weight gain prevents them from wearing their favorite clothes and even shoes! Of course, when expecting, you cannot possibly stop your stomach from swelling, but there are ways to keep wearing your favorite pair of shoes even when you are pregnant. We, at Foot and Ankle Associates, want you to enjoy this experience by eliminating this unpleasant symptom of pregnancy. Below are 5 ways to help reduce foot and ankle swelling during pregnancy:
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What Brings Swelling Down Quickly
Cold TherapyApplying an ice-pack or cold compress to an injury is the fastest way to deal with immediate swelling. It helps reduce swelling by restricting blood flow to the area and slowing down cellular metabolism. Cold therapy systems and ice baths are other methods you can use to apply cold to the area.
How Can I Reduce Swelling
Some simple things can help you feel more comfortable and can also aid in preventing swelling.
- avoid standing for long periods without moving
- wear comfortable shoes
- put your feet up as much as you can
- limit salty foods and excessive salt in your diet
- sleep on your left side, which will help blood return to the heart
- exercise regularly by walking or swimming this helps keep your circulation going
If you need to stand for long periods, try to move around and change position regularly.
Compression stockings can help the blood flow back to the heart and limit how much swelling you get. Massage and reflexology might also help reduce swelling and associated symptoms.
Even if your swelling is bothering you, remember to still drink plenty of water. Keeping your fluids up is important to avoid dehydration and stay healthy.
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Swollen Hands And Feet In Pregnancy
This is because your body holds more water than usual when you are pregnant.
Normal swelling in pregnancy:
- is often worse at the end of the day
- happens in late pregnancy
- gets better when you lie down
- will appear in both feet.
You should call your midwife or hospital maternity unit immediately if you have:
- a sudden increase in swelling in your face, hands or feet
- a very bad headache or a dull headache that wont go away
- problems with your vision, such as blurring or flashing lights
- severe pain just below your ribs
- feeling sick or vomiting
These could be symptoms of pre-eclampsia.
What Causes Swelling In Pregnancy
The body goes through gradual changes the moment you get pregnant. Around the second trimester onwards, swelling may occur. It is a normal thing that happens while your body supports your babys nutritional needs. As this is taking place, the blood flow decreases and fluid accumulates in the tissues.
According to Dr. Folch-Hayek, OBGYN at Family Health Centers of San Diego: The gravid uterus is putting pressure on the inferior vena cava, which decreases the blood flow back to the heart. Swelling develops usually later in the second and third trimester because the uterus is bigger as you progress in the pregnancy.
Aside from these changes and processes, there are other factors that result in swelling, including:
- Sitting or standing for long periods
- Lack of water intake
The lack of activity during pregnancy may or may not be a factor for swelling. However, even active pregnant people still experience swelling because the vein congestion still happens in the uterine area. Dr. Folch-Hayek noted, Its more to do probably with activity level or lack of activity such as prolonged standing or sitting without changing your position.
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Are There Risks Associated With Swollen Ankles And Feet
Although it sure isn’t swell , mild swelling of the ankles and feet caused by edema is harmless and perfectly normal.
However if your face becomes puffy, if you notice more than five pounds of weight gain in one week, or if the severity of the swelling persists for more than a day at a time , call your practitioner.Trusted SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionUrgent Maternal Warning SignsSee All Sources
Excessive swelling can be one sign of preeclampsia but when it is, it’s always accompanied by other symptoms . If your blood pressure and urine are normal, there’s nothing to be concerned about. Edema or swelling is never the only symptom of preeclampsia, so once you’re evaluated by your doctor or midwife, you can feel confident nothing concerning is going on in your pregnancy.
Rarely, swelling in the legs could be a sign of a deep vein thrombosis , a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein. Swelling from DVT tends to affect only one leg , might cause a feeling of heaviness when you stand up, pain in the calf when flexing the foot, or skin that’s red or warm to the touch.
Go Easy On The Caffeine
To help combat swollen feet, even more, replace your morning cup of coffee with some chamomile or peppermint tea. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it increases how often you use the bathroom. When youre pregnant, this can easily lead to dehydration and fluid retention. Both chamomile and peppermint tea also have many beneficial trace mineralsincluding potassium.
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Traveling While Pregnant: How To Avoid Swollen Feet
Heres the bad news: Puffy feet and ankles are common both during pregnancy and when flying, so for some, traveling while pregnant could be the epitome of discomfort.
When youre pregnant, the circulation in your lower limbs is strained, which is what causes all the swelling in your feet in the first place. The longer you sit without moving, the worse it is for you. This, plus the cabin pressure on the plane makes for a not-so-nice combo.
On to the good news: Yes, there are definitely ways to relieve at least some of the swelling and pressure when traveling. Here are a few helpful tips:
Avoid wearing anything tight or restricting, especially shoes.
Try to get up and walk around every hour. Not possible? Rotate your ankles and point and flex your feet when you can.
Elevate your feet as much as possible by propping them on top of your carryon luggage in front of you.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drinking as much water as you can will help minimize your sodium intake.
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.
Leg Cramps During Pregnancy
Some pregnant women can’t escape leg cramps. These painful muscle contractions usually occur in the calfand often at night, when legs and feet are tired. They’re likely caused by calcium deficiency and excess phosphorus , says Enid Leikin, M.D., an OB-GYN at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, New York. Nerve pressure from an expanding uterus, poor circulation, and dehydration might also be to blame.
While annoying and painful, these cramps are usually not dangerous for your baby, and tend to come and go quickly. But if they persist, or your leg begins to swell or feel warm, let your doctor know. This can be a sign of a blood clot, which is very rare but requires immediate treatment.
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Should I Be Worried About Swelling During Pregnancy
Edema accompanied by certain other symptoms can signal more serious underlying problems. Be on the lookout for more swelling in one leg than the other, accompanied by pain, which can signal a possible blood clot. A headache that wont go away, along with vision changes , can be signs of preeclampsia , and swelling accompanied by chest pains or difficulty breathing could mean heart trouble. Contact your health-care practitioner immediately if you experience any of these additional red flags.
When Does The Swelling Typically Start
Swelling can occur at any point throughout your pregnancy, but most women begin to notice it during month five. It often increases during the third trimester as you get closer to delivery. Those who have excessive amniotic fluid or are carrying multiples will probably notice the swelling sooner.
With my first baby, the swelling was so bad in the third trimester that I would wear my UGG slippers to work because nothing else fit.
You might also have some postpartum swelling from IV fluids during labor and the crazy hormone changes going on in your body. Both of these can cause you to retain fluids in your extremities after delivery. The swelling often worsens before it gets better but is typically a very normal part of the recovery process .
With my first baby, my swelling was worse at three days postpartum than throughout my whole pregnancy.
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Swollen Feet & Shoe Choice
After all the fluid built up your legs and feet are dealing with, chances are they wont fit into your usual shoes anymore. Many pregnant women are surprised to walk into a shoe store and discover their feet have grown a full size or more! Not only are the fluids causing your feet to swell, but also the pregnancy hormones that allow your pelvic bones to relax are also working their magic on your foot bones, changing their shape and size.
All this means is, its time to go shoe shopping. Here are some tips for buying shoes while pregnant.
- Afternoon: Shop in the afternoon, when your feet are at their largest from the days activities.
- Type: This probably goes without saying, but avoid excessively high heels. A broad heel no more than an inch high is alright, but your comfort should be your first priority. Choose a shoe that easily balances and supports you, with lots of cushioning for shock absorption. Running shoes are a great choice.
- Size and fit: If your feet are extra-wide, go ahead and shop in the mens section. Avoid pointy-toed shoes, as these are notorious for causing bunions in pregnant women. If youre buying boots, make sure they have plenty of room for your swelling calves. And lastly, dont count on breaking them in. Your changing feet dont have time for that. Make sure your shoes fit comfortably in the store.
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When Swelling Becomes Serious
While gradual swelling in your lower and upper extremities is normal, sudden or severe swelling in your face, hands, or feet might be a symptom ofpreeclampsia. This pregnancy complication involves very high blood pressure.
If you have preeclampsia, you may need to stay in the hospital until you give birth. Delivery is the only way to treat preeclampsia. Left untreated, the condition can cause seizures, kidney or liver damage, and in rare cases, death.
Talk with your doctor about foot and leg swelling, as well as any other pregnancy symptoms. The more we know about your current condition, the more we can help reduce your risk of future complications.
While we cant fully prevent foot and leg swelling, we can recommend ways to reduce your risk, such as:
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Where And When Will I Get Swelling
The swelling should be only in your feet and ankles. Your fingers might get a little larger enough to make any rings feel tight but they shouldn’t be obviously swollen.
Your feet and ankles are likely to swell later in the day. This is mainly due to gravity any extra fluid in your body will sink to your feet and ankles, especially if you spend a lot of time on your feet.
Swelling is also more likely to happen later in your pregnancy.
Gradual swelling isn’t harmful to you or your baby, but it can feel uncomfortable.
Ways To Manage Swollen Legs And Feet During Pregnancy
Of all the body parts you expect to get bigger during pregnancy, feet might not be at the top of your list. But most pregnant women experience swelling in their lower legs and feet.
If your ankles appear puffy and your shoes dont feel quite right, youre not imagining things. The additional fluid and blood your body creates to support healthy fetal growth also slows down blood circulation. That can cause blood to accumulate in your lower extremities, causing swelling.
During pregnancy, you also produce more relaxin, a hormone that helps your tendons, ligaments, joints, and muscles you guessed it relax. While relaxin helps your pelvis open to give birth, it also loosens the tendons and ligaments in your feet.
The combination of extra weight and hormones during pregnancy can cause your feet not only to widen but also flatten and lengthen. Leg or ankle swelling likely will decrease a week or two after your baby is born, but your feet may never be the same again.
Studies have shown that pregnancy can cause a permanent decrease in your arch and increase in foot length typically only after a womans first pregnancy.
While more research is needed to determine whether these structural changes can be prevented, there are a few things you can do throughout your pregnancy to reduce swelling and feel more comfortable.
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Preeclampsia A Dangerous Cause Of Swollen Ankles
Preeclampsia is a complication of pregnancy thats characterized by an increase in the pregnant womans blood pressure, among other issues. Although the initial symptoms of such a condition are subtle, its potentially serious for the mother and the baby.
One of the first manifestations of preeclampsia is sudden swelling of the ankles or feet. Therefore, when edema appears, you need to consult a physician as soon as possible.
As the condition progresses, other manifestations begin to appear and should be attended to immediately:
- Severe headache
- Sudden worsening of swelling of the hands, feet, or face
- Problems with vision
- Stabbing pain below the rib region
While the above symptoms are highly suggestive of preeclampsia, sudden swelling of the legs or ankles may also have to do with other causes. For example, when it appears suddenly and on only one side of the body, it could be a sign of deep vein thrombosis.
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