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What to Do With Swollen Ankles and Feet During Pregnancy

Swollen ankles and feet are called “edema,” which is when excess fluid collects in your tissue.

It’s normal to have a certain amount of swelling during pregnancy because you’re retaining more water. Changes in your blood chemistry also cause some fluid to shift into your tissue.

What should you do when you experience swollen ankles and feet during pregnancy?  Keep reading!

(picture by healthtap.com)

A pregnant woman’s growing uterus puts pressure on her pelvic veins and your vena cava (the large vein on the right side of the body that carries blood from your lower limbs back to the heart).

The pressure slows the return of blood from your legs, causing it to pool, which forces fluid from your veins into the tissues of your feet and ankles. Swollen ankles and feet are most likely to trouble you during the third trimester.

After you deliver your baby, the swelling will disappear fairly rapidly as your body eliminates the excess fluid, but until then what should you do?

Here are a few tips below, but of course, you should always consult with your doctor before trying these:

  • Help relieve the increased pressure on your veins by lying on your side. Since the vena cava is on the right side of your body, resting on your left side works best.
  • Put your feet up whenever possible. At work, it helps to keep a stool or pile of books under your desk.
  • Don’t cross your legs or ankles while sitting.
  • Stretch your legs frequently while sitting: Stretch your leg out, heel first, and gently flex your foot to stretch your calf muscles. Rotate your ankles and wiggle your toes.
  • Take regular breaks from sitting or standing. A short walk every so often will help keep your blood from pooling in your lower extremities.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that stretch to accommodate any swelling in your feet.
  • Don’t wear socks or stockings that have tight bands around the ankles or calves.
  • Try waist-high maternity support stockings. 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, especially by walking, swimming, or riding an exercise bike. Or try a water aerobics class. Immersion in water may temporarily help reduce swelling, particularly if the water level is up near your shoulders.
  • Eat well, and avoid junk food.
  • Consult a foot and ankle doctor if the pain is too much or persistent.

Remember, any type of foot or ankle pain is never normal. A foot and ankle doctor can examine your feet and give you the best course of action.

Please call 626-447-2184 (Arcadia) or 818-408-2800 (San Fernando) to speak to a foot and ankle specialist about your foot and/or ankle needs.

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