Mild swelling in your body during pregnancy is common, and as you progress through your pregnancy, you’ll find that gravity has another surprise for you: swollen feet during pregnancy. This is a condition that is also known as edema.
Gravity has a way of pulling all of the water down to your feet and ankles.
The swelling can change based on the day and hour. Many people will suffer from swollen feet at night and in the evening. When temperatures are warmer, you’ll also notice that your feet and ankles will continue to swell. You may even get the dreaded cankles.
The good news is that you’re not alone: 75% of women will experience this during their pregnancy.
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When to Expect Swollen Feet during Pregnancy
Since such a high number of women have had swollen feet when they’re pregnant, there is a lot of data that points to when you can expect to have swollen ankles. In most cases, women will start to have swollen feet during:
- Week 22 at the earliest
- Week 27 at the latest
Trust me: you may not be able to see your feet over your belly, but your feet are likely swollen to some extent.
What Causes Swollen Feet During Pregnancy?
Your growing baby will need your body to increase the amount of liquids and blood flow to the uterus. This is going to be a necessity for your pregnancy to be a success, and all of these fluids will begin to be absorbed into your tissues.
A boost in blood flow also ensures that your tissues have more fluid.
Your uterus is growing as well, which will put pressure in the veins, in particular the vena cava and the pelvic veins. The vena cava is the large vein in the body that is responsible for returning blood in the lower limbs back to the heart. This vein is located on the right side of the body.
Excess fluid retention and added pressure will lead to the swelling in your ankles and feet.
Fluid will move its way to the feet thanks to gravity. And chances are, your feet are also a little swollen because you’ve gained weight. The added weight will put more pressure on the feet and ankles, which can cause them to strain and swell as a result.
9 Ways to Stop Feet Swelling During Pregnancy
Your feet are the size of balloons and you’re not sure your socks can handle the immense tension they’re under as a result of your swelling feet. What can you do to alleviate your discomfort?
There is a lot that you can do to try and stop the swelling:
- Get Moving: If you find that you’re watching more and more television, it’s time to get moving. A quick walk or even some yoga will help you get rid of the swelling. The idea is that walking or just moving will force the blood to keep moving in the body instead of pooling. Swimming (ask your doctor first) will also push fluids back into the veins, so you can pee them out. If you find that you’re swelling, try to move around a bit more.
- Sleep on Your Side: Sleeping on your back or stomach may be more comfortable, but sleeping on your side helps the body to keep the kidneys active. Sleeping on your side will also help to boost blood flow. Ideally, you’ll sleep on your left side to help your body reduce much of the water and fluids that you’re retaining.
- Try Orthotic Shoes: High-heels simply will not do anymore. You’re pregnant, and your feet are starting to turn into balloons. Comfortable shoes can help you reduce some of the swelling. Orthotic shoes or even inserts you find online or in pharmacies will be able to help reduce back and knee pain while also allowing your foot to expand and not cause more pain than necessary.
- Drink More Water: I know, it sounds crazy. But if you drink more water, you’ll be flushing all of the waste out of your body. There is also a chance that your body is holding onto sodium, and 8 – 10 cups of water will help the body flush out this excess sodium, so you stop retaining
- Stop Wearing Stockings or Elastic Socks: The water and fluids in your feet need to be able to flow freely. When you wear constricting socks, you’ll be preventing your body from properly flushing out the fluids that have pooled in your feet.
- Ditch the Salt: I’m a big fan of salt, too, but it can be a major factor leading to your excess water retention. If you have a tendency to put a lot of salt on your food, do your best to cut down on this habit. Salt will cause water and fluid retention naturally, which is making your feet swell excessively.
- Don’t Stand for Too Long: When you’re standing, you’ll put excess weight on your feet and also be helping gravity push all of those fluids down to your feet. If you have ankle or joint pain, standing can make the pain worse. Any woman that stands too long will want to take lots of breaks.
- Don’t Sit for Too Long: You can’t stand, and now you can’t sit either. The truth is that you want to stand up and move around for at least 5 minutes per hour. The idea is that if you’re sitting for too long, you’re not allowing the body to move enough to get rid of the liquid.
- Put Your Feet Up: When you’re sitting, try and elevate your feet. Not only will this keep the pressure off of your feet, but you’ll be able to help the fluid move back up the body and out through urine. If you’re laying down, you can also put pillows under your feet to elevate them. The goal is to elevate your feet enough to allow liquid to flow up from your feet. When sitting, putting your feet on a desk, for example, will allow for fluids to move properly.
The foods that you eat may also be causing you to retain excess water. In particular, you want to focus on the high salt and sodium foods you’re eating. These are foods that will cause your feet to retain water, and avoiding them can help alleviate the problem – even slightly.
You should be trying to eliminate bad foods anyway to remain healthy and regular during pregnancy.
Women also point to waist-high maternity stockings as a way to increase blood flow and help ensure that all of the blood doesn’t go to your feet. If you put on these support stockings, they can act as a form of compression that will boost blood flow to the lower portion of the body. This can help the blood flow back up to prevent the blood from pooling.
The good news is that swelling is not much to be concerned about.
Approximately 3 out of 4 women will have noticeable swelling that can start early or late in the second trimester. The key is to try your best to help prevent the fluids in your body from pooling at your feet. The tips above can help you combat the swelling, and it’s recommended that you begin adhering to the above tips around the 20-week mark for best results.
If the swelling won’t subside and continually gets worse to the point that you’re truly concerned, it’s never a bad idea to bring the issue up with your doctor to see what advice he or she can provide.