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Swollen Feet During Pregnancy: Causes & Relief Measures

During pregnancy, it is not just the belly that grows. There is a mild swelling experienced all over the body, especially in the feet and ankle. The swelling experienced varies in different females and also depends on the time of the day or the weather condition.

What Causes The Feet To Swell During Pregnancy?

What Causes The Feet To Swell During Pregnancy?

During the first trimester, the level of hormone progesterone slows down the digestion which can lead to abdominal bloating and a bit of puffiness in the hands, feet, or the face.

During the second trimester or the beginning of the fourth month, slight swelling is noticed, especially if you are on your feet or the weather is too hot. The swelling is due to an increase in the blood (which is 50 %) and the fluid volumes in the body (1)

The third trimester or the start of the 28th week is the time when most of the females experience swollen feet. Continuous increase in the blood and fluid volume is a reason for the swelling. Also as the uterus is growing heavier it slows down the flow of blood from the legs back to the heart.

Other reasons which can contribute to the swelling in the feet are as follows:

  • Low water intake
  • Dietary imbalance
  • Caffeine intake
  • Hot weather
  • Being on feet for a longer period of time

How To Get Relief From Swollen Feet During Pregnancy?

Having swollen feet can be actually very bothersome. But there are simple ways to ease the symptoms and help feel better:

  1. Reduce Sodium Intake: Limiting salt intake is a way to reduce swelling during pregnancy. Avoiding canned and processed foods especially the ones high in sodium and avoiding putting extra salt in the food is a way salt intake can be reduced. Instead, savory herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and oregano can be used to flavor the food.
  2. Increasing Potassium Intake: Low potassium in the body can be a reason to make swelling worse. Potassium plays a role in helping the body balance the amount of fluid it holds onto. Prenatal vitamin containing extra potassium can solve the purpose, but taking good sources of dietary potassium is also a good option. Foods rich in potassium are banana, spinach, sweet potatoes, bean, yogurt, salmon, lentils, and beets.
  3. Reduce Caffeine Intake: Drinking excess of caffeine is not good for the baby and also it makes the swelling worse. Caffeine being a diuretic makes you pee more. This makes the body think it needs to hold on to the fluid. Instead, decaf coffee with milk or herbal tea can help to give the required energy boost.
  4. Drink More Water: A dehydrated body tends to hold in more water. Drinking water helps curb dehydration and counteract swelling. At least 10 glasses of water daily help keep the kidney clean from the toxins and the body hydrated.
  5. Elevate Feet and Rest: Sitting with the feet elevated for some time can help drain fluid that has been pooling in the legs, and reduce swelling. You might be having million of things to get done before the baby arrives, try and take out time to sit and put your feet up.
  6. Wear Comfortable Clothing: Swelling worsens if you wear tight clothing around the waist, wrist, and ankles as it keeps the blood from circulating easily. Wear comfortable clothes and avoid tight elastic bands around anywhere in the body.
  7. Wear Comfortable Shoes: Pregnancy is good time to give a break to your favorite heals. Wear comfortable clothing, well-fitting shoes to reduce foot swelling and hip and back problems. Also, some may notice a change in foot size. For some females, it is temporary while for others it’s permanent. Do not push leg into the ill-fitting shoes, just because they are your loved ones. Buy the larger and comfortable ones to keep you at ease.
  8. Sleep On Your Left Side: Sleeping on the left improves the blood flow, which can reduce the swelling in the feet. It takes off the pressure of the uterus from the inferior vena cava (a large vein which helps return the blood to the heart).

The Risk Associated With Swollen Feet and Ankles

Mild swelling of feet and ankle is perfectly normal and also it is absolutely normal to not experience swelling.

Excessive swelling can be a sign of preeclampsia when accompanies with raised blood pressure, rapid weight gain, and protein in the urine. Therefore if such swelling doesn’t improve overnight consult your doctor.

If the blood pressure and urine are normal there is nothing to be much concerned about. Swelling of feet is a normal symptom, experienced by most of the females during pregnancy. A few lifestyle changes can help get through it.

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 11, 2019

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