What to do for swollen feet during pregnancy?

(October 22, 2012)

Your body retains extra fluids during pregnancy. Much of the weight gain during pregnancy can be attributed to this fluid retention. The extra fluid helps the tissues handle the baby's growth. It also helps prepare the pelvic area for labor and delivery of the baby. This excess water retention is the main cause of swollen feet and ankles after pregnancy. This swelling, known as 'edema', gradually recedes after childbirth as your body sheds the excess fluid.

During late pregnancy, the enlarged uterus exerts pressure on the veins supplying blood to your legs and feet. This affects the flow of blood to your feet and ankles and causes even more fluid to accumulate in there.  Severe cases of swollen feet after pregnancy may require treatment, and you should contact your physician in this regard. Else you can try these simple remedies to relieve swollen feet after pregnancy.

  • Avoid standing for long periods of time. This will take the pressure off your veins. If you must stand for long, try walking about. It will help blood circulation.
  • Avoid sitting with your feet on the floor for extended periods of time. Instead, when sitting down, try propping your feet up on a low stool. Do not cross your legs when you sit.
  • While sleeping, put a couple of pillows under your feet so that your legs remain raised. Lying on your side will help improve blood circulation and reduce the swelling.
  • Heat will aggravate the problem, so try and stay cool.
  • Mild exercises like walking and swimming will also help reduce the swelling.
  • Drink lots of water, although it may seem at odds with common sense. It will help your body shed fluid.
  • Having a healthy diet is essential. Eat food with less salt and make sure you are getting adequate proteins. Less protein in your diet can cause your body to retain extra fluid.

Do not try any OTC medicine to reduce the swelling without first consulting your physician.
Mild swelling of the legs, feet and ankles are normal after childbirth and should recede within two weeks of childbirth. If the swelling is severe or sudden, or if it occurs around your eyes or hands, then you need to contact your physician as this could be a symptom of 'preeclampsia'. Preeclampsia causes an increase in blood pressure and fluid retention. Other symptoms of preeclampsia include severe headaches, blurred vision, severe abdominal pain and dizziness.

Submitted by N H on October 22, 2012 at 07:18

The moment you realize that you are pregnant, you are on top of the world. However, this happiness is often short-lived as you start suffering from pregnancy symptoms like nausea, morning sickness, fatigue, tender breasts, and swollen hands and feet. It is common for most of the pregnant women to have swollen hands and feet during pregnancy. But it is equally important to monitor the swelling as it can be a sign of edema during pregnancy.

During pregnancy, your body tends to retain lot of fluid. As a result there is fluid retention in your body that leads to swollen feet and hands.  The growing uterus pressurizes the pelvic veins which cause a back flow of blood from your legs. This causes the fluid from the veins to seep into the tissues of your hands and feet, leading to swelling.

Swelling can happen at any point of time during pregnancy. However, it is more noticeable in your second trimester as by this time the uterus grows in size in proportion to the growing baby.

Swelling during pregnancy happens due to the following reasons:

  • Excessive intake of salt in food
  • Standing continuously for long durations
  • Deficiency of potassium
  • Less intake of water
  • Excessive coffee consumption.

If you are suffering from swollen feet during pregnancy, here is what you can do to combat the problem:

  • Avoid standing or sitting for long durations. Instead take frequent breaks.
  • Avoid wearing high heels during pregnancy. Instead opt for comfortable footwear.
  • Try to keep your feet elevated as often as you can. This helps in avoiding the swelling and also brings down the swelling if you are suffering from one.
  • Limit the intake of salt in your daily diet.
  • Apply cold compression to the affected areas to find some relief.
  • Try to avoid caffeine completely.
  • Follow a light exercise regime like walking which will facilitate good blood supply.
  • Wearing supportive tights or stockings at night will help reduce the swelling.
  • Avoid wearing clothes that are tight around your legs or ankles.
  • Keep your body well-hydrated. Drink plenty of water. This will help in flushing the toxins from your body.

Edema, when it gets severe, is a sign of preeclampsia. So it is a wise idea to get your blood pressure checked by a doctor and make sure that this possibility is ruled out. The swelling usually begins to subside once the first trimester is over.

Submitted by P T on May 4, 2010 at 12:41

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