During the last trimester when your belly swells, your ankles, legs and feet might be increasing in size as well. Known as edema, swollen ankles, legs and feet affects around three fourths of pregnant women somewhere around week 22 and week 27 of pregnancy. The condition will stay around till you give birth, but it can make you feel pretty uncomfortable – worsening towards the end of the day and generally bad during summers.
During pregnancy, the hormone levels rise the body, and the body tends to retain water than it usually does and therefore some swelling in the body and legs is normal. The retention of fluid is called edema and it gets worse in the last trimester. This retention of fluid may not be comfortable, but plays a vital role during delivery and labor. It helps the tissues and joints in the pelvis to open up. The body produces nearly 40% to 50% more fluids and blood to nourish the fetus. As the uterus grows, it puts pressure on the veins in the pelvic area which slow down the return of blood to the heart, accumulating it. This pool forces fluid from the veins to the tissues of your feet and ankles.
Edema causes swelling in your ankles, feet and legs, however, at times your hands and face may also swell. The swelling is quite slow and progresses as you go further in your pregnancy. However, if you notice a sudden swelling in your face or hands along with a blurred vision this could be an indication high blood pressure so make sure you notice this and consult your doctor immediately. Also, if your skin around the eyes swells up, or the swelling in the face is more than slight, or one of your legs seems more puffy than the other, it is wise to call your doctor and it could either be preeclampsia or clotting – both of which require medical attention.
Swollen feet and legs are uncomfortable, but they aren’t painful. Here are some tips to give some relief to your swollen legs and feet:-
- Stretch your feet and legs whenever and wherever possible.
- Sleep or lay on your left side.
- Do not stand in one position for a longer duration.
- Drink lots of fluids and water and urinate as often.
- Sit with your legs and feet up if possible. During work, take the support of a stool.
- Moderate exercise, short walks, swimming and following a healthy diet.
- Wear sandals that allow your legs to breathe. If possible buy a new pair of shoes/sandals one size larger than your current size, heels should be strictly avoided.
- Try to stay in a cool environment, avoid being in humid and warm areas.
- Reduce the intake of sodium.
- Apply ice on swollen ankles for about 15 minutes every day for about half an hour to an hour.
- Avoid tight clothes, stockings or socks. Let the blood and fluid flow freely.
However, it is not a joy to have swollen ankles and feet but it will not be too long when you see your beautiful angel for the first time and your gorgeous legs back again!