Let’s address the most annoying, yet the most common symptom of pregnancy…the swollen feet and ankles. There are times during pregnancy when your fingers and toes may look like little sausages. Relax it is normal and unfortunately a part of the process. I’ll give you a glimpse of what’s going on to cause the swelling, as well as how to relieve it. For starters, if you’re pregnant and reading this, go ahead and kick your feet up. See that’s one step closer to relieving those swollen feet and ankles.

What is it?

            During pregnancy, our bodies produce more blood and bodily fluids to help the developing baby. The extra fluid softens the body so it’s able to expand for the baby. It also helps to prepare joints and body tissue for delivery. All of this is medically known as edema. There are two types of edema. One is called pitting edema. This is when a small indentation is left when a little pressure is applied to the swollen area. The other type is non-pitting edema. This is the typical form of edema when no indentation can be seen with applied pressure.

Common Factors of Swelling

There are a lot of factors that can cause swelling or even make swelling worse. Summer heat is a leading factor in pregnancy swelling. Standing for long periods of time at work or during shopping. Your diet plays a sizable roll in pregnancy swelling as well. Diets low potassium, high caffeine consumption, and high levels of sodium can impact your swelling. If you were diagnosed with high blood pressure before you were pregnant this can be a factor as well.

When To Notify Your Doctor

For the most part, swelling is normal and apart of the pregnancy process. However, if you experience certain symptoms you should notify your doctor as soon as possible. Sudden swelling of the hands and feet. If your swelling turns red and painful. Swelling that lasts longer than 24 hours after you have rested and elevated your feet. If you experience rapid weight gain along with your swelling. If you have severe headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, abdominal pain, and/or vomiting. Any of these symptoms could be signs of preeclampsia, eclampsia, toxemia, or high blood pressure. It is best to visit your health care provider and let them know what you have been experiencing. The saying “better safe than sorry” rings true for these symptoms.

How To Manage Swelling During Pregnancy

            If you’re dealing with regular swelling, there are a lot of ways to help you relieve it. Let’s start with your diet. Avoid caffeine, sodium, and junk food. Look for foods that are high in potassium. Avoid standing for long periods of time. When it’s hot outside save your outdoor activities for the early morning or in the evening once it cools down. Your mother may have a heart attack on this one, but don’t cross your legs! Crossing your legs can cut off the circulation from your thighs to your feet. Wear comfortable shoes with supportive tights or stockings. Avoid heels and clothes that are tight around the wrists and ankles. Get lots of rest with your feet elevated.

Here are a few home remedies that you can try. Soak your feet in Epsom salt. Apply an ice pack or cold compress to your swollen areas. Take a swim in the pool. Drink lots of water to reduce water retention. If your doctor approves, light exercise can help with circulation and reduce toxins in the body. Last but certainly not least, the almighty massage! Massages break up the tension and release toxins that can cause you to retain water.

A Means to An End

While you are dealing with your swelling, remember this is only temporary. Taking care of your body and yourself can go a long way with swelling. There is nothing to be concerned about, unless you experience any of the symptoms we discussed earlier. Swelling is a part of pregnancy that we all love to hate. Don’t let it get you down though. Go out with friends, have fun, and if possible enjoy yourself.