Common Issues During Pregnancy – Swelling in Feet and Ankles.

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“My footwear has become so tight!”

“My feet and ankles are swollen, and I feel like I’m losing my balance while walking!”

“My ankles are sore!”

Having swelling in the ankles and feet is a common issue in pregnancy. It is not permanent, and your feet will go back to their normal shape and size, after your delivery.

Why does the swelling occur?

During pregnancy, your body produces more blood to help the baby grow. When the baby is growing in the uterus, the uterus presses the veins that send blood from the legs back to the heart, so the blood flow is compressed. Due to hormonal changes the walls of these veins become tender, and hence do no not function properly. This makes the blood collect around your legs, and when a small quantity of blood leaks from the delicate blood vessels and enters the tissues, swelling occurs.  

Does the swelling happen elsewhere as well?

Usually, swelling happens later in the pregnancy and is observed around the feet and ankles. The fingers of your hand may feel a little larger, and so ring may also start becoming tight, but there is no swelling as such in the hands. Since blood flows downwards due to gravity, it is mostly felt below the calf muscles, especially if one is used to standing and walking for long stretches.  

Though you may sense the discomfort, it is not harmful to your baby.

How does one tackle swelling? 

  • Switch to open footwear or something strappy that is flexible.
  • If you’re standing for too long in the same place, walk for a few minutes and then sit down.
  • Sit with your legs up on a couch or footrest.
  • Cut down the salt proportion in your meals.
  • Lie down and sleep on your left side, for the blood to flow back to the heart comfortably.
  • Keep your blood circulation going, through light exercises, walks and swimming.

When is swelling abnormal?

  • Call and meet your doctor immediately if:
  • You observe swelling in the morning, and it doesn’t settle when you take a breather and rest.
  • Your hands and face start looking swollen.
  • The swelling is much more than what you’ve had in the days gone by
  • One leg is more swollen than the other. 

Any of the above signs could be a warning for pre-eclampsia, which is high blood pressure caused by pregnancy.

Though pregnancy and swollen ankles and feet go hand-in-hand, do not waste time if you feel something doesn’t feel right. Meet your doctor in person and get to the root cause. Always keep a family member updated about your health condition and changes, during your pregnancy and immediately after as well.