For most women, the joys of bringing a new life into the world are preceded by many of the less than joyful side-effects of pregnancy. No two pregnancies are alike; while some expectant mothers may have morning sickness but not back pain or discomfort, others may have no problem with upset stomachs but experience excessive weight gain. Similarly, some women see minimal swelling – edema – during pregnancy while others may feel like their body is expanding like a balloon. For the latter group – about three-quarters of pregnant women – swelling in the feet and ankles can be one of the more annoying and uncomfortable aspects of pregnancy.
What is Edema and Why Does It Happen?
Women experience edema during pregnancy when the increased amount of body fluids needed to nurture themselves and their baby start to accumulate in body tissues. Pregnant women produce about 50% more blood and body fluids than they did before pregnancy, and it has to go somewhere. This kind of swelling can happen throughout the body – in fingers and hands in particular – but the feet and ankles often bear the brunt of the swelling simply because of gravity.
Edema in the feet and ankles tends to make itself known between the 22nd and 27th week of pregnancy. In addition to the body’s increased fluid production, swelling in the feet and ankles can also be caused or exacerbated by:
- Warm or hot temperatures
- Standing for extended periods
- A lack of potassium
- High sodium intake
- High levels of caffeine
Tips for Reducing Swelling in the Feet and Ankles During Pregnancy
If edema is an unwanted part of your pregnancy, you can take some simple precautions and affirmative steps to keep the ankle and foot swelling to a minimum.
Here are some tips to keep swelling at bay:
- Avoid standing for extended periods and take frequent breaks if you need to be on your feet a lot during the day
- Keep time outdoors to a minimum on hot days
- Keep your feet elevated when resting or lying down
- Comfort is king when it comes to your shoes
- Avoid clothing that is tight around the ankles
- Apply a cold compress to swollen areas of your feet or ankles
- Eat more potassium; bananas, in particular, are rich in it
- Minimize caffeine consumption
JAWSpodiatry: Your Hollywood, Florida Foot and Ankle Specialists
The experienced and skilled podiatrists at JAWSpodiatry in Hollywood, Florida are a growing team of exceptional medical professionals who offer the highest degree of care in a welcoming, comfortable environment. Please contact us today at (954) 922-7333 to schedule a consultation.