How to Treat Swollen Feet During Pregnancy

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During pregnancy, your body expands to accommodate the growing fetus. However, you probably didn’t anticipate that your feet could swell along with your waistline.

Leg edema, sometimes called edema, affects about 8 out of 10 pregnancies. It is usually caused by an increased amount of fluid circulating around the body. People who are different tend to notice swelling of their hands, arms, feet, or even face during their second or third trimester, although leg swelling especially can occur at any time. .

“Swelling during pregnancy is completely normal and to be expected,” says Sherry Ross, an obstetrician and gynecologist based in Santa Monica. “If you think about it, your body produces [approximately] 50% more blood and other body fluids help baby’s growth and development. ”

While leg swelling can be uncomfortable (not to mention inconvenient), it’s generally not harmful to you or your baby. Learn what causes it, how to find relief, and how to spot when swollen feet could be a cause for concern.

What causes swelling during pregnancy?

There are a number of reasons your feet (and body!) might swell during pregnancy. The first is due to the normal physiological changes that occur when holding a baby. Your blood volume increases steadily as your pregnancy progresses.

Leah Savitsky, MD, a board-qualified obstetrician and gynecologist and clinical instructor for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UW School of Medicine, explains: “The total blood volume goes up, but that blood volume increases. slightly more watery than during pregnancy. . “The technical term for this is reduced plasma osmolality.” Dr. Savitsky explains that when the blood has a lot of water, it is difficult for the water to stay completely in the vessels. Some of these substances can leak into surrounding tissues, causing the swelling you see.

Swelling can start at any time during pregnancy, including after delivery. It most commonly occurs in the third trimester. Between 28 and 42 weeks, your blood volume is almost double what it was before pregnancy. However, leg edema can occur during any stage of pregnancy and may not be solely due to blood volume.

First trimester

If you’ve just gotten pregnant and discovered that your shoes no longer fit properly, swollen feet may not be the culprit. Relaxin, the reproductive hormone responsible for loosening the pelvis in preparation for labor, can increase the size of a pregnant woman’s feet.

“[Relaxin] “Allow ligaments, tendons and joints to literally relax and stretch to allow childbirth,” says Dr. Savitsky. lengthen. ”

Relaxin levels are at their highest during early pregnancy, which is why you may have trouble wearing shoes during the first trimester.

Relaxin levels are at their highest during early pregnancy, which is why you may have trouble wearing shoes during the first trimester.

However, sudden swelling in a foot or leg can be cause for concern. Blood clots that occur deep in the body are called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If left untreated, they can be fatal. Signs of DVT include painful swelling, redness, and warmth to the affected area. Studies estimate that pregnancy increases the risk of DVT fivefold, so it’s important to seek immediate medical attention if you develop any of these symptoms.

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Second trimester

As you enter your second trimester at 13 weeks, you may notice your feet begin to swell for the first time. Maybe your shoes will be tighter when you take them off at night than in the morning. This is because the fluid concentrates on the lowest part of the body as the day goes on, especially if you have been walking for long periods of time.

“Pain, heaviness and tingling are common symptoms,” says Dr. Ross. “Standing and standing on tiptoes for long periods of time will also make the swelling worse.”

While this is inconvenient (and annoying!), hopefully, you can relax because it’s a sign that your body is doing exactly what it should – preparing for childbirth. “The increase in fluid in your tissues and joints is intended to soften your body and prepare it for delivery,” says Eric Winiarz, DC, a chiropractor in New York City.

Third trimester

At 28 weeks, you enter the third trimester. If you’ve never had swollen feet, this is the most common time for it to appear. If you’ve been through it during your pregnancy, you may find that the swelling is getting worse. “During the third trimester, the growing uterus puts extra pressure on the lower extremities, making swelling even more pronounced in the legs, feet and ankles,” says Dr.

In addition to the increase in fluid (which is now 50% more than it was before you got pregnant), the weight of your uterus is putting extra strain on your cardiovascular system. Your baby is pressing on a large vein called the inferior vena cava. This pressure can slow circulation, making it harder for fluid from the legs and back to the heart.

“When you’re pregnant and lying on your back, the weight gain from the baby can compress this vein and may not allow proper drainage of blood from the lower extremities,” says Dr. “This is why you don’t want to sleep on your back during the third trimester of pregnancy.”

The last few weeks of pregnancy can be the most challenging. The good news is that you’ll lose that extra fluid in the days after giving birth. The less good news is that you will lose it due to more urinating and night sweats.

How to reduce swelling in your feet

Although most swelling in pregnancy is normal, it can feel painful and uncomfortable. Thankfully, there are things you can do to relieve symptoms and ease discomfort.

Exercise regularly

Regular gentle exercise, such as walking or swimming, increases blood circulation, which can help get rid of any stubborn bumps. Alternatively, Dr. Winiarz recommends a more specific exercise.

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“You can lie on your back, lean your butt against the wall and [legs and] “Dr. Winiarz said.” “Dr. Winiarz said legs straight up the wall.” Start pumping both your feet up and down. You can do this exercise in minutes. This helps push some of the fluid out of the lower extremities. ”

When you reach the third trimester, you shouldn’t spend a long time lying on your back. The weight of the uterus can compress a large vein called the inferior vena cava, which can affect the health of the unborn baby.

Reduce salt intake

Avoid foods that are high in salt, such as fast food. “When the body senses too much salt in the body, we tend to retain water in the body,” says Dr. Winiarz. “This can cause some swelling and puffiness.” Instead, try to fill your diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and protein.

Wear compression stockings

Another common management technique is wearing compression stockings. “Wearing compression stockings that reach the hips will put a little bit of pressure on the leg,” says Dr. Winiarz. “This encourages movement and fluid circulation.”

Savitsky says choose socks or stockings that have a pressure rating of 15 to 20mmHg to help reduce swelling or soreness. “Make sure your socks don’t have too tight bands at the top,” she adds. “This can prevent blood from returning, which detracts from the purpose of the sock.”

Keep enough water

Drinking more water when you’re fighting a losing battle with water retention can be counterintuitive, but our bodies retain water if it’s not getting as much as it needs. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), you should drink between 8 and 12 cups of water a day during pregnancy.

Elevate your legs

Avoid standing for long periods of time and put your feet up – literally. “Elevate your legs above your heart level periodically throughout the day,” Dr. Ross recommends. This will encourage blood and fluid to flow back to your heart.

Epsom salt bath

Anecdotal evidence suggests that Epsom salt, also known as magnesium sulfate, draws toxins out of the body and reduces inflammation, but there isn’t much scientific evidence to back up those claims. However, an Epsom salt bath can still help with pain. Dr Winiarz says: “A soak in this type of bath can also help relieve muscle tension in the legs. He recommends showering for about 15 minutes.

Get a prenatal massage

Dr. Winiarz recommends prenatal massage for her patients. Studies show that prenatal massage, specifically lymphatic drainage massage, can reduce swelling in the lower extremities. Although prenatal massage is generally considered safe for your baby, ask your healthcare provider for all the clear information before making an appointment.

When foot swelling could be a cause for concern?

Dr. Savitsky says swollen feet are usually due to normal changes in pregnancy, but they can also be a sign of preeclampsia, or more rarely, serious heart problems. Preeclampsia, or high blood pressure during pregnancy, is often accompanied by protein in the urine, indicating kidney or liver damage. It occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy and has the potential to harm both you and your unborn baby. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in 25 pregnancies will develop the condition.

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“If someone has a sudden onset of swelling in their legs or elsewhere on the body that is not a normal level of swelling at the end of the day, they should call their obstetrician-gynecologist to discuss symptoms and decide if Do they need to be told by Dr. Savitsky.

Although rare, Dr. Savitsky points out that preeclampsia can happen after you give birth, so don’t dismiss any bump you may experience after giving birth. Be sure to take it with your healthcare provider.

If only one leg is swollen, it could also be a sign of a DVT in that leg. “Usually, in this case, one leg tends to have pain in the calf and sometimes a red rash in the calf,” Dr. Savitsky explains. Be sure to call your healthcare provider if you are concerned to discuss the symptoms further.

A very good word

Gradual swelling in the legs during pregnancy is common, especially during the third trimester when your blood volume nearly doubles. Standing for long periods of time, being inactive, and not drinking enough water can aggravate the swelling you’re experiencing. If you’ve tried these remedies and your leg swelling persists, seeking help from an orthopedist can help relieve your symptoms.

However, if you notice your foot swells rapidly, only on one side of the leg or foot, or if the swollen area is red or hot to the touch, contact your service provider. your healthcare as soon as possible. This could be a sign of a blood clot (known as a DVT).

If you experience sudden or worsening swelling, shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea, or a severe and persistent headache, this could be a sign of preeclampsia and you should contact your doctor. Contact your doctor immediately.

While the swelling is inconvenient, try to think of it as your body preparing for your baby — and remember it should go away after you give birth!

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