Swollen feet and ankles are one of the many unpleasant side effects of pregnancy. While pregnant, women’s feet and ankles may retain extra water, and can become swollen as a result. The swelling, which is not usually harmful to the mother or to the baby, can still be quite uncomfortable for mothers-to-be. Luckily, there are several tips that pregnant women can follow to reduce swelling in the ankles and feet.
Move Your Feet
Foot exercises can be a great way to increase circulation in the feet and ankles, which will help to reduce swelling. Foot exercises can be done any time of day, and can be executed when sitting or standing. The UK’s NHS suggests that pregnant women try the simple foot exercise of moving each foot in a circle in one direction eight times, and then alternating in the opposite direction (Swollen ankles, 2013).
Watch the Salt
Certain foods can be more prone to causing swelling in the feet and ankles. It is important that pregnant women watch their sodium intake, as excess salt consumption can lead to greater water retention. The March of Dimes Foundation suggests that pregnant women eat appropriate amounts of protein, and drink 8 to 10 eight-ounce glasses of water daily, as hydration helps balance sodium levels in the body (Your Pregnant Body, 2013).
Ask for a Massage
A gentle massage of the swollen ankles and feet can also help increase circulation, and may ease discomfort. If a massage is too painful, special compression socks designed for maternity purposes may be a more suitable, and more readily-accessible option.
Wear Maternity Compression Socks
Pregnancy can cause poor circulation, which is the main reason swollen ankles and feet occur. Compression socks designed specifically for maternity can really aid in blood circulation from the legs to the heart, thereby helping to reduce swelling in the feet and ankles. Maternity-designed compression socks also have the added benefit of helping to reduce varicose veins (LegSmart, 2012).
The Right Kind of Rest
It is important to get plenty of rest when pregnant. When laying down, be sure to elevate your feet to help reduce swelling. If you are sitting, try to sit with your feet up, as it will help to prevent blood from pooling in the ankles and feet. The Mayo Clinic advises avoiding standing for long periods of time, and avoiding crossing your legs when seated (Harms, 2013). Additionally, it is best to sleep on your side, with your legs elevated by pillows.
BabyCentre advises that pregnant women who are suffering from swollen feet and ankles should eat foods that are rich in Vitamins C and E (BabyCentre, 2012). Citrus fruits offer up great amounts of Vitamin C, and many nuts and seeds are rich in Vitamin E.
The above tips may help pregnant women reduce and avoid suffering from swollen feet and ankles. You should always consult your physician before beginning any new treatment, and/or before taking any new vitamins or supplements.
Sources For More Information:
Swollen ankles, feet and fingers . (2013). Retrieved from: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/swollen-ankles-feet-pregnant.aspx#close
Your pregnant body . (2013). Retrieved from: http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/swelling.aspx
5 Common Pregnancy Concerns for Women . (2012). Retrieved from: http://www.legsmart.com/blogs/resources/7025152-5-common-pregnancy-concerns-for-women
Ankle swelling during pregnancy: What helps? (2013). Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/swelling-during-pregnancy/AN01194
Swelling (natural remedies) . (2012). Retrieved from: http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a549316/swelling-natural-remedies
Sandy Greene has worked as a physician for the past 12 years and loves blogging on nights and weekends. If you’re looking for additional tips & advice for pregnant women, Sandy recommends reading http://www.pnmag.com/.