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Swelling of the Ankles and Feet During Pregnancy

December 3, 2020

Pregnancy is a beautiful gift for a woman. It is the time your baby grows inside your body which brings about a lot of hormonal and physical changes to your body. During pregnancy, you might notice swelling in your ankles and feet. Not only is your belly swelling during pregnancy, but there is also swelling all over the body, especially your feet.

Causes for Edema

Swelling or edema of your feet and ankles during pregnancy may occur due to the body fluid you are holding which is higher than normal during pregnancy. There is increased blood flow for nurturing you and your growing baby and pressure is created by your growing uterus on the pelvic veins and your vena cava (the large vein that returns blood from your lower limbs to your heart). This causes an increase in body fluid which gets accumulated in the dependent tissues thus causing edema of your feet and ankles.

When does swelling occur?

Edema starts to occur around week 22 to week 27 of your pregnancy and remains till the time you deliver your baby. More than 75percent of pregnant women experience edema of feet and ankles.

The swelling tends to get worse as a woman's due date comes near, particularly near the end of the day and during hotter weather.

How to avoid swelling

Mild swelling or edema is normal during pregnancy and can be avoided and you can make yourself comfortable by trying the following steps. –

  • avoid standing for long periods
  • Wear comfortable shoes and socks – avoid tight straps or anything that might pinch if your feet swell. Put maternity support stockings (that go to your waist) on before getting out of bed in the morning.
  • Try to rest with your feet up as much as you can.
  • Drink plenty of water – this helps your body get rid of excess water because if you are dehydrated your body tries to retain more fluid.
  • Exercise regularly – try to take regular walks during the day or doing foot exercises
  • Try to stay cool in humid or hot weather.
  • Do foot exercise - you can do foot exercises sitting or standing. They improve blood circulation, reduce swelling in the ankles, and prevent cramp in the calf muscles: for this
  • Bend and stretch your foot up and down
  • Rotate each foot in a circle one way and then the other way.

Sudden swelling in the face or hands may be a sign of a condition known as Pre-eclampsia which is a disorder of pregnancy characterized by the onset of high blood pressure and often a significant amount of protein in the urine and is seen after 20 weeks of pregnancy. In such a case it is advisable to consult your gynecologist.