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Oh, swell!

>> Monday, March 5, 2012

What I am about to show you is very disturbing! But I show you this because I want you to know that I'm speaking for experience. Painful, experience. And to let you know that if you are in the same boat I was, that you really aren't alone. But I still have to warn you that it's disturbing.

My feet and ankles...when I was 7 months pregnant with my first child:
How come no one warned me that my feet, toes, and ankles would swell to the size of Connecticut? If this has never happened to you during pregnancy, I have to admit that I'm feeling a slight bit of resentment!

Swelling of the feet and ankles during pregnancy is called edema. It happens because excess fluid is collecting in your tissues. Also, as your uterus grows, it is putting pressure on your pelvic veins and your vena cava (which is the large vein on the right side of your body used to carry blood from your lower limbs up to the heart). The pressure from your uterus slows the return of blood from your legs, which in turn causes it to pool, then forcing fluid from your veins into the tissue in your feet and ankles.

If you are finding yourself in the same uncomfortable situation that I found myself in, here are some things to try to help:

-Keep your feet up. If you're at work, try to have a stool under your desk to keep them up. When at home, you can do as I did and have a pile of pillows at the end of your couch that you put your feet up on. Putting my feet up always helped with the swelling.

-When sitting, don't cross your legs or ankles. This is a habit of mine that was tricky to break, but it definitely helps!

-Stretch out those legs! Heel first, gently stretch your foot to stretch our your calf. Also rotate your ankles around and wiggle your toes.

-Take breaks from sitting. If you have to sit for long stretches of time, make sure you get up and walk around for a little bit to help with blood circulation.

-Don't wear socks or stockings that are tight around the ankles or calves. (I made that unfortunate mistake while on a long flight. OUCH!) Try waist high support stockings. If you put them on before you get out of bed in the morning, blood won't have the chance to pool around your ankles.

-Drink lots of water! This will help your body to retain less water. (More trips to the bathroom=less water retention)

-Regular exercise helps! Especially walking, swimming, or riding and exercise bike. Oh, the joyous pool! I was so lucky to have access to a pool during my first pregnancy, and it felt so good to get my big ol' swollen feet and ankles into the water!

-And of course, the answer to almost everything, eat well. So hard to say when pregnant, and sometimes all you want is junk food. But avoiding junk food can help with the swelling!

With all that said, I promise, it does go away. I remember SO clearly as soon as my son was born, I was laying in the hospital bed and I looked down and said to my husband "I have ankles again!!" It was nearly as exciting as my son being born!

***Call your health care provider if you notice swelling in your face or puffiness around your eyes, more than slight swelling of your hands, or excessive or sudden swelling of your feet or ankles. This could be a sign of preeclimpsia. Also call if you notice that one leg is significantly more swollen than the other, especially if you have any pain or tenderness in your calf or thigh.

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*Lauren* March 5, 2012 at 8:25 AM  

I'm 11 days away from our baby #3's arrival. This is the first time my feet have swollen...and the first time I've gotten stretch marks, lucky me :)

Anonymous,  March 13, 2012 at 9:02 PM  

Acupuncture or a little acupressure tool called tenshin does wonders for ankle swelling during pregnancy! :-)

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