Many women experience foot pain and swelling during pregnancy (also known as edema), especially the further along they get. What to Expect estimates that three-quarters of women experience edema in pregnancy, and it typically begins between 22 to 27 weeks of gestation but can last until you give birth.
Foot pain and swelling in pregnancy are often caused by the extra accumulation of blood that occurs as weight gain and the enlarging of the uterus puts pressure on the leg’s veins. Not only does this cause blood circulation to decrease, but it heightens fluid retention.
This pregnancy symptom can cause a lot of discomforts and make it difficult to get around. Fortunately, there are various things you can do to ease the pain and swelling, including the following tips.
When dealing with pain and swelling in your feet, it’s important to choose footwear that’s supportive in order to not exacerbate the symptoms. My Health Alberta recommends looking for a shoe that is only 6mm longer than your longest toe and covers the heel to provide more support and prevent slipping.
Rounded, wide heels provide more contact with the ground and thus extra support. The toe area should provide enough room for the toes to move. Also, try to choose shoes that are adjustable to allow flexibility if and when your feet begin to swell.
Finding a supportive shoe is a game of trial and error, so you may have to try on several pairs before finding a shoe that works for you. Don’t be afraid to return to a shoe if it’s not comfortable after a few wears. Just be sure you know the store’s return policy.
Additionally, you can opt for supportive insoles to add to shoes you already own to give you more support and ease any pregnancy-related foot pain you may be experiencing.
It doesn’t just stop with footwear. Choosing supportive clothing options can also reduce swelling and pain in pregnancy. For instance, support pantyhose can help prevent swelling before it happens. Put it on in the morning in order to mitigate the effects of edema. However, ensure it’s not too tight around your belly to keep you comfortable.
Similarly, avoid any sort of pants, skirt, socks, or stockings that are too tight, as this will prevent bodily fluids from flowing freely and can cause or exacerbate swelling and pain.
Monitor Your Food & Fluid Intake
Fluid retention adds to swelling, so monitoring your diet is an easy way to help combat foot pain in pregnancy. Everyday Health explains you should be drinking plenty of water not only to stray hydrated but to help flush out excess fluids and reduce water retention.
Additionally, be sure to limit your intake of caffeine and salt, as both of these encourage the body to retain more fluids.
Watch Your Position & Get Moving
The way that you position yourself and the amount of physical activity you get can directly impact your foot pain and swelling in pregnancy. It’s important to remember the following:
Elevate your legs
If you’re experiencing swelling, one of the best (and easiest) things you can do is to elevate your legs. In doing so, gravity will naturally force the bodily fluids towards your heart instead of your legs, reducing swelling and discomfort.
Don’t sit or stand for too long
It’s important to switch your position to not over-exert or put too much pressure on the body. Make sure to sit down regularly if you’re on your feet a lot, and conversely, stand up and move around if you’ve been sitting for a while.
What to Expect suggests getting at least 5-minutes of walking in for every hour that you’re sitting during pregnancy.
Don’t forget to exercise
You may not be able to do your normal workout routine in pregnancy, especially the farther along you are. But getting physical activity is still important when expecting, especially if you experience edema, as it helps keep the blood flowing and pushes bodily fluids towards the kidney to help flush out toxins.
Check with your doctor to see what exercises are safe for you in pregnancy, as this can vary from person to person.
Watch how you sleep
Your sleeping position can be worsening your foot pain and swelling. What to Expect suggests laying on your side, as this can improve kidney function, which helps mitigate swelling as the kidney passes waste through the body.
Read our guide on the best sleeping positions in pregnancy for more information.
Please note: excessive swelling can be a sign of preeclampsia. If you experience worsening swelling, especially in areas other than your feet, we encourage you to seek medical attention. Preeclampsia can be threatening to maternal and fetal health if left untreated. Contact your healthcare practitioner for more information.
Baths that are too hot can pose a danger to your unborn baby’s health.
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