How To Avoid Getting Swollen Feet During Pregnancy

When you are pregnant, your body undergoes a lot of changes. One unpleasant change that you may notice is that your feet and ankles begin to swell. The severity of the swelling can range from mild to quite extreme, depending on the time of the day and what the weather is like outside. Swelling is generally worse later in the day and during periods of hot weather.

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Foot Swelling As It Relates To The Pregnancy Timeline

Most women who are pregnant start to notice their feet swelling when they are anywhere from about 22 weeks to 27 weeks along in their pregnancy. This swelling tends to continue all the way through until the end of the pregnancy according to Orthotic Shop.

Understanding Why Pregnancy Causes The Feet And Ankles To Swell

Edema, which is the medical term for this type of swelling, occurs when your body retains extra fluid in its tissues. Pregnancy causes an increase in blood flow through your body. The changes in your uterus also can wind up putting pressure on the veins in your pelvic region as well as on the large vein known as the vena cava. This vein helps blood circulate from your lower body back up to your heart. The combination of increased blood flow and pressure on the veins often results in swelling in the lower body. You may also notice swelling in your hands, making your rings too tight or uncomfortable.

When Should You Be Concerned About Foot Swelling?

Swelling that is relatively mild usually is not a cause for concern. Instead, it is a common symptom of pregnancy. Some women don't experience any swelling at all. There are situations, however, where you should be concerned about swelling in your limbs or face. If you notice your face, hands, or other parts of your body becoming exceptionally puffy or if the swelling doesn't seem to go away when you sleep, you should get a hold of your doctor. Conditions like preeclampsia can cause swelling in the body. Usually, these conditions also have additional symptoms, ranging from causing you to gain weight to increasing your blood pressure. If you have been seeing your doctor regularly and your blood pressure and urine check out okay, you probably are not experiencing preeclampsia. If you experience excessive swelling that doesn't go away, however, it is still worth contacting your doctor to get checked.

Steps You Can Take To Minimize Pregnancy-Related Foot Swelling

  • Don't stand or sit for long stretches of time. Instead, regularly alter your position, sitting down periodically if you spend most of your time standing or getting up and walking around occasionally if you spend most of your time sitting.
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    Try elevating your feet. This can help keep fluids from accumulating in your lower body.
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    Change your sleeping position. Laying on your left side when you sleep may help improve your kidney function, making it easier for your body to eliminate excess fluids. This, in turn, can minimize swelling.
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    Start exercising. With your doctor's approval, begin doing some exercises that are safe during pregnancy. For instance, going for a walk or taking a swim is a great way to get your blood moving. This, in turn, can minimize swelling in your body.
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    Don't wear socks or stockings that are too tight. Ideally, you want to promote better blood flow through your lower body by skipping out on any pieces of clothing that are too restrictive.
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    Choose shoes that won't pinch or bind your feet. Even though they may not be stylish, you should look for supportive shoes. Alternatively, you can also add orthotic insoles to some of your current shoes to get extra support. When you are relaxing at home, avoid shoes altogether, opting for comfortable slippers instead.
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    Consider wearing support hose. Pantyhose that have built-in support can help minimize swelling by providing light compression. The key to success when using them is to put them on early in the day before any major swelling kicks in.
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    Stay hydrated. Although it may seem like drinking extra fluids would make you swell even more, it actually has the opposite effect. Staying adequately hydrated helps your body maintain the proper balance of electrolytes and makes it easier for it to eliminate waste. This, in turn, can result in less swelling.
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    Try to cut back on salt. If you eat too much salt, it could make swelling worse. Don't go overboard, however, since too little salt can also cause problems with swelling. Use a moderate amount so that your body can maintain the right balance.

Your Shoes May Not Only Be Getting Tighter Because Of Swelling

While swelling during pregnancy is definitely one cause of your shoes getting tighter, there may be another cause, as well. During pregnancy, your body releases a hormone known as relaxin. This hormone helps loosen up the ligaments in your body. As a result, the bones are able to spread further apart. This can cause the bones of your feet to spread apart from one another, making your feet bigger. Although your feet will usually return to their normal size after pregnancy, there are some cases where they don't. You may find that your shoe size goes up as much is one size as a result of being pregnant, meaning that you may have to buy new shoes to keep your feet comfortable after you have your child.

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Sarah Palmer
 

Hi! I'm Sarah. My husband and I have a beautiful little girl; plus we’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of Baby #2, so this is a very exciting time for us. Throughout this amazing journey called Parenthood, I’ve learned so much and love sharing my experiences with other parents at SarahsLovelyFamily.com. I'd love to share my discoveries with you too!

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