When you approach the second trimester of pregnancy, your shoes will start to feel a little tighter as your feet swell up. It can be uncomfortable, but there are ways that you can make your feet feel better and less bloated.
Why are my ankles and feet so swollen during pregnancy?
What you’re experiencing is edema – that’s when excess fluid collects in your tissue. Edema affects about three-quarters of pregnant women starting from around week 22 to week 27 of pregnancy. In the third trimester, edema can get worse if you have excessive amniotic fluid or if you are carrying multiples. At the end of the day and during the summer, you might experience more swelling. After you have given birth, your swollen feet will reduce.
All this swelling happens because your body is retaining fluids to support you and your child. The fluids will stay in your cells and allows increased blood flow. This causes your ankles and feet, and also your hands to a lesser degree, to swell.
In addition, your uterus puts pressure on your blood vessels leading to the legs. As the veins get narrower, the blood starts to pool in your legs and results in swollen feet.
What can I do to reduce swelling during pregnancy?
It’s completely normal to experience some swelling while you are pregnant. But if it makes you feel uncomfortable, here are some tips you can try:
- Lie on your side to reduce blood pooling in your legs.
- Put your feet up as much as you can. For example, put a pile of cushions under your feet as you lie on your bed, or put a small stool under your desk at work.
- Wear comfortable shoes that stretch to fit your swollen feet. Avoid tight straps or anything that might pinch your feet.
- Don’t cross your legs or ankles while sitting.
- Avoid standing for long periods. A short walk every so often will help keep your blood from pooling in your lower extremities.
- Don’t wear socks or stockings that have tight bands around the ankles or calves. Put them on before you get out of bed in the morning so blood doesn’t have a chance to pool around your ankles.
- Drink plenty of water. Surprisingly, this helps your body retain less water.
- Exercise regularly by walking or riding an exercise bike. Swimming and water aerobics class can be great with swollen feet, as the water is gentle and will help reduce swelling, especially if the water level is near your shoulders.
- If you don’t feel like getting out of your seat, bend and stretch your feet up and down, or rotate your foot in a circle.
Eat well, and avoid junk food. Opt for foods that are naturally rich in vitamins C and E. Good sources of vitamin C include: citrus fruits, green and red peppers, melons, potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, cabbage, and broccoli. Foods rich in vitamin E include vegetable oils (especially corn, soy and wheat germ oil), sunflower seeds, wheat germ, sweetcorn, cashews, and almonds.
Don’t be too worried about your swollen feet. After you give birth, edema will go away.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: February 9, 2017 | Last Modified: December 6, 2019
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Swollen feet, ankles, and hands (edema) during pregnancy. http://www.babycenter.com/0_swollen-feet-ankles-and-hands-edema-during-pregnancy_230.bc. Accessed August 22, 2016.
Swollen ankles, feet and fingers. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/swollen-ankles-feet-pregnant.aspx. Accessed August 22, 2016.
Swelling (natural remedies). http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a549316/swelling-natural-remedies. Accessed August 22, 2016.