Pregnancy and Swollen Feet: Coping With Changes and Discomfort

September 25, 2023 1:40 pm Published by

As you get ready to welcome a beautiful new life into this world, you should recognize the various physiological changes that may occur during your pregnancy so you can take the right steps to keep you and your baby happy, healthy, and comfortable. 

While feet might not immediately come to mind as a change women undergo during pregnancy, a majority of women do experience uncomfortable swelling in their lower extremities.

Below, we’ll cover the causes of swollen feet during pregnancy, how to cope with the discomfort, and what treatment options are available so you and your baby can stroll through pregnancy.

The Cause of Swollen Feet During Pregnancy

Swelling in lower extremities (edema) affects three quarters of pregnant women. This is due to the fact the body generates around 50% more blood and bodily fluids during pregnancy to support the growth of the baby. 

Over the term of pregnancy, water content within the body can increase by up to 15 pounds and, as a result, edema accounts for approximately 25% of the weight women gain during pregnancy.

While swollen feet during pregnancy is usually not cause for concern, this condition can occasionally lead to or be mistaken for other complications. We’ll go over what foot warnings to be aware of and how you can relieve further discomfort.

Complications To Look Out For

Mild swelling in the ankles and feet during pregnancy is not unusual. However, when sudden or severe swelling occurs, especially when accompanied by more concerning symptoms, such as high blood pressure, we recommend you talk with your healthcare provider as it could indicate a more serious underlying condition.

While severe complications from swelling are not extremely common, here are some to be aware:

Blood Clots

Symptoms like sudden swelling in one leg or foot can indicate a blood clot or be a sign of deep vein thrombosis, though this doesn’t occur often; in fact, only 1-2 out of 1000 women develop blood clots during pregnancy. While those numbers are low, it’s still important to look out for intense swelling or discomfort during pregnancy.

Varicose Veins

Edema can also contribute to the development or exacerbation of varicose veins. These are swollen, twisted veins that are often blue or purple in color and commonly occur in the legs. 

Varicose veins can cause: 

  • Discomfort
  • Pain
  • Itching

The aforementioned symptoms can be more serious than mild swelling or discomfort, but your physician can help. For mild conditions, there are many ways to alleviate the pain from your own home— even in your jammies.

How To Reduce Swollen Feet During Pregnancy

If you are pregnant and experiencing swollen, uncomfortable feet, there are a few home treatment options you can try to reduce the symptoms.

You can:

  • Elevate your feet. By elevating your feet above your heart, fluid in lower extremities will travel back toward the heart and help reduce swelling.
  • Use compression stockings. Compression stockings can push the blood flow in your legs up rather than down, reducing the risk of blood clotting and swelling.
  • Consider adding arch support/switching shoes. Support for your feet can give them more range of motion, improve blood flow, and alleviate swelling
  • Stay active. Physical activities that use the swollen extremities can help shift the blood flow back to your heart and improve blood circulation.
  • Avoid flip flops. Flip-flops put intense and frequent stress on your feet since they lack the correct support for them. This can cause pain, swelling, and other complications, such as plantar fasciitis.

Dietary Changes and Home Remedies for Swollen Feet During Pregnancy

Diet plays a big role in alleviating swollen feet and pain. Consider the following home remedies and dietary changes to help you relieve discomfort and swollen feet during pregnancy:

  • Reduce caffeine and drink more water. Coffee can cause diuretic effects, resulting in dehydration. While this may seem like a good thing for excessive fluid retention, it can actually cause your body to hold more fluid over time by causing your body to hold water weight. It’s important to drink enough water to prevent your body from holding on to what fluid it has.
  • Limit sodium intake. Sodium causes your body to retain more water since it needs more time to process it first, causing edema or existing edema to worsen.
  • Stay cool during hot days. Since heat can cause small blood vessels to open, this can cause more inflammation in your body, leading to more swelling. 

If the above solutions have not helped you with your swollen feet or foot pain, it may be time to see a podiatrist.

How a Podiatrist Can Help During Pregnancy

Your body is working hard to bring your baby here. You deserve pain-free feet during this wonderful time.

If you’re experiencing swollen feet during pregnancy, consult with a podiatrist to ensure your feet are properly cared for. A podiatrist with extensive experience treating various foot and ankle conditions can help get your feet back to feeling happy again.Foot & Ankle Group is ready to help with any foot or ankle pain or conditions you may be experiencing. Schedule an appointment with Foot & Ankle Group today.

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