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How to Handle Ankle Swelling During Pregnancy

Are your ankles swelling during pregnancy? Swollen ankles can cause discomfort and pain, making it difficult to move around. As your weight increases, the pressure on the ankles will also increase.

Pregnant women experience many changes in their bodies during and even after pregnancy. As the baby grows, the expecting mother’s body changes to support the baby’s growth and development. Her body will start gaining weight, retaining water, and producing more hormones to facilitate the baby’s growth. Ankle swelling in pregnancy is not uncommon, but it is not something to ignore either.

Book an online appointment with Dr. Abhishek Aggarwal for Pregnancy & Gynecology related issues

Are Swollen Legs During Pregnancy Common?

As your pregnancy progresses, you are bound to gain weight. It can be in specific places like your abdomen and legs or all over. It varies from pregnancy to pregnancy. As the hormones and fluids increase in the body to support the baby’s growth, your body will start retaining more of these fluids. Due to gravity, the liquids tend to pool around your lower body, leading to swollen legs and feet.

Swollen legs are quite common in pregnancy. It usually starts somewhere around the second trimester. It can last till you deliver the baby.

What Causes Ankle Swelling in Pregnancy?

Overall, weight gain during pregnancy will cause your ankles to swell. Some of the other reasons for ankle swelling during pregnancy are:

. Edema

Excessive fluid retention in your tissues is known as edema. One of the most common reasons for swollen ankles in pregnancy is fluid retention. There may be days when the swelling seems to increase and days when it seems to subside. If your ankles and feet seem to swell too much too quickly, you should consult your doctor immediately. If you are suddenly gaining too much weight and your shoes get too tight, it could be more than just edema.

. Preeclampsia

Sudden swelling of legs, feet, or ankles can be a symptom of preeclampsia – very high blood pressure in pregnancy. Your doctor will check your blood pressure regularly to rule out preeclampsia.

. Deep Vein Thrombosis

In extremely rare cases, the swelling in the ankles can be due to a blood clot that is affecting the blood flow. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DTV) generally affects only one leg (mostly the left leg). When a blood clot forms in a deep vein, one of your legs can start swelling. Apart from the ankles, the calf muscles tend to swell as well. The calf muscle of the affected leg can be much bigger than the unaffected leg

When To Worry About Swollen Ankles in Pregnancy?

Slight swelling from time to time or a general increase in the size of your ankles or feet is nothing to worry about. You should consult your doctor if you notice any of the following:

  • Your legs or ankles start swelling every day – you can see a visible change in the size
  • Sudden swelling of ankles or feet
  • Your shoes seem to get tighter by the day
  • Walking or moving around gets tougher
  • Your blood pressure is very high
  • Your legs hurt in addition to the swelling
  • Swelling does not decrease even after lying down
  • One leg is bigger than the other
  • You have excess pain in just one leg

Also Read : Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment of Butt Pain during Pregnancy

Home Remedies for Ankle Swelling in Pregnancy

Swollen feet and ankles can be very uncomfortable, especially during pregnancy. The increase in weight and change in size is already affecting your centre of gravity, and the swelling only makes it worse. Doctors cannot prescribe any strong medications during pregnancy. You can try the following pregnancy-safe home remedies for some temporary relief.

1. Put Your Feet Up

If you are on your feet for most of the day, all fluid could be collecting in your feet. Take a break from time to time and put your feet up. Elevating your feet can help drain the fluid and reduce pain as well. Sit on a bed with your back straight, stretch out your legs in front of you, and prop your feet on a firm pillow.

2. Keep Moving

A swollen ankle is not an excuse. You need to keep moving. If walking continuously is difficult, take breaks. Set a timer and walk for a few minutes, take a break, and repeat. Sitting for too long with your feet hanging can also increase swelling. So, get up and move when feasible.

3. Sleep on Your Side

Sleeping on your stomach is not possible when pregnant. Sleeping on your back can add pressure and compress your vessels thus reducing blood supply to the baby. Sleep on your side with a small pillow between your knees. This will help take the pressure off your lower back and knees.

4. Avoid Tight Clothing

Avoid tight socks and stockings that can restrict movements and blood supply. Wear comfortable, fitting, breathable fabric for better circulation. If you have to wear shoes and socks, reduce the duration as much as possible.

5. Exercise

Simple exercises can increase the blood circulation in your feet and bring the swelling under control. You can try the following exercises anywhere, anytime. You don’t have to get ready and step out for these simple movements.

  • Foot Stretch – Place your feet on a footrest or a step. Flex your feet and stretch them up and down. The movement will relax the ankles and stretch your calves.
  • Toe Stretch – Curl your toes and stretch them out. Repeat it a few times. You can hold the curl or stretch for a few seconds if it feels good for your feet.
  • Feet Rotation – Rotate each foot clockwise and counterclockwise. Rotate them 8 times each way.

Conclusion

Swelling of the feet and ankles is common in pregnancy. While gradual swelling is nothing to worry about apart from the discomfort, sudden swelling, with or without pain, needs immediate medical attention.

FAQs

1. How can I reduce ankle swelling during pregnancy?

Avoid staying on your feet for long. Take frequent breaks and move around to improve circulation.

2. At what month of pregnancy do your feet swell?

Your feet can start swelling anytime in your second trimester. Many women experience such swelling only after the 7th month, as the baby’s weight and body fluid production increases.

3. How long should I elevate my legs to reduce swelling while pregnant?

Elevating your legs for just a few minutes will suffice. It is a personal choice, so feel free to keep your feet elevated as long as it doesn’t cause any back ache.

4. What helps swollen feet and ankles after pregnancy?

Walking and moving around will help drain the fluid in your feet. Soon after pregnancy, the fluid from the rest of the body will start draining and can pool in your feet due to gravity.

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