Swelling of the feet and lower legs is quite common during pregnancy, particularly during the third trimester. It affects roughly 90% of pregnant women who may find it too difficult to stand or work for longer periods of time. This is also called edema or fluid retention in your tissues.
Here are some causes of swollen feet during pregnancy
- An increase in blood volume
- High intake of caffeine and sodium
- Pro-longed standing periods
- Low potassium intake
- Elevated levels of uric acid
The growing uterus also puts pressure on the pelvic veins and the vena cava, which is the large vein on the right side of the body responsible for carrying blood from your lower limbs to the heart. As the pressure builds up, it slows down the flow of blood from your legs, and causes it to pool, forcing out fluid from your veins into the tissues of your feet and ankles.
Along with swelling, there are also painful feet cramps caused by high progesterone levels and increased blood volume due to pregnancy. For preventing cramps, improve circulation by elevating feet and rotating ankles while sitting. You can also stretch your calf muscles and walk a bit to relieve cramps and swelling. It is also pretty normal for women to experience a slight increase in their foot size during pregnancy. A permanent growth up to half a size can occur in a pregnant woman’s foot due to the release of the hormone relaxin that allows the pelvis to open for delivering the baby.
While sudden swelling in the hands or face can signal preeclampsia, mild swelling of the feet and ankles is usually of no serious concern. However, swelling linked with other symptoms could indicate an underlying condition. Diabetes or poor circulation could cause bruising on the swollen skin, leading to a purplish appearance.
Symptoms to watch for swelling of feet during pregnancy include:
- Pain when extending the foot (signaling blood clot)
- Red Streaks (indicating infection)
Make sure you discuss any painful symptoms with your doctor, as soon as they become unbearable. A few symptoms can signal the development of more severe conditions during pregnancy, such as kidney failure and congestive heart failure.
12 Home Remedies to Get Rid of Swollen Feet during Pregnancy
Some edema is normal for pregnant women. However, severely painful swelling symptoms should be taken care of immediately. Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages should be avoided as much as possible as they dehydrate the body and cause inflammation. Here are some home remedies that naturally relieve swelling of feet during pregnancy:
1. Tonic Water
The most basic remedy for relieving swollen feet during pregnancy is to soak your feet in room temperature or even cold tonic water. The quinine helps reduce inflammation and the bubbles produce a soothing effect. This is one of the most common remedies used for treating tired and swollen feet.
Since you are pregnant, ask a professional massage therapist to massage your ankles and feet. Look for expert therapists who are known for giving a safe prenatal massage, since they already know swelling of feet is a common problem. It will definitely be a refreshingly pleasant experience.
3. Epsom Salt
A healthy dose of Epsom salts in your bath is a tested way to relieve swollen feet during pregnancy. Epsom works as a magic pill to relieve swelling and helps relax muscles.
4. Grapefruit Essential Oil
A warm bath can be refreshingly good for relieving swollen feet during pregnancy by adding a few drops of grapefruit essential oil to the water. If you don’t want to take a long bath, use it by mixing a few drops with any other oil, such as olive oil, for gently massaging your feet and legs. By focusing the pressure upward, rub your feet, calves and ankles in a circular motion for effective results.
5. Support Hose
Compression gear or a support hose can prevent swelling. Buy compression socks that are knee or thigh-high or full-on compression stockings. They can be worn for short periods of time and footless compression stockings can be a good solution to cure swollen feet during pregnancy
6. Dandelion Tea
A good source of phytochemicals for fighting off fluid retention, dandelion tea is recommended by many midwives. Drink 2 to 3 cups every day for relieving swelling.
7. More Fluids
The biggest contributor to swelling is excess salt. When you increase your fluid intake, it greatly helps dilute the salt in your system. A water intake of 8 to 10 glasses is obligatory to flush toxins out of your system. To boost the effect, you can also consume cucumber-lemon water. Slice some lemon and cucumber pieces in your glass or bottle for an uplifting effect. Both these add an anti-swelling quality to water. Avoid sugary juices or syrups. Consume fresh juices or plain water throughout the day.
8. Magnesium Supplement
Magnesium deficiency is also a cause of edema. Even though prenatal vitamins and your diet are already providing you with magnesium, a supplement should be taken after consulting your doctor for providing some relief to your swollen feet.
Cucumbers are a natural diuretic. They are rich in silicon and sulfur and stimulate the kidneys to function efficiently. Consume them raw or mix it in your salads for regular intake during pregnancy.
A major reason for swelling of feet during pregnancy is standing or sitting for long hours. Your feet need some movement for improving blood circulation to ease swelling. For this reason, a few basic exercises and some yoga postures are recommended. Make sure you talk to your doctor before practicing yoga or taking up rigorous exercise.
11. Keep Your Feet Elevated
When you are relaxing in the afternoon or evening, lie down or sit with your feet in an elevated position. If you work, prop your feet up under your desk. This can make a big difference on how your feet feel at night.
12. Cabbage Leaf
Another effective home remedy for treating swollen feet during pregnancy is wrapping a cabbage leaf around the swollen area. Leave it for 20 minutes and it will reduce swelling and draw out excess fluids. You can use white or green cabbage leaves. Don’t wash the leaves before wrapping them on your feet. However, you can wipe them clean. Cabbage leaf makes up an effective compress and can be kept on until it moistens. You will see a considerable reduction of swelling to relieve discomfort.
Swollen feet don’t necessarily have to slow you down in pregnancy. However, as mentioned above, severe swelling must be treated immediately. By practicing a few relaxing methods, a few basic exercises and consuming a diet low in salt will help combat edema causing swelling of feet during pregnancy.
Floating or swimming can also give your circulatory system a much needed break. Even though your feet are particularly vulnerable to swelling during pregnancy, make sure you let your doctor know in case you experience sudden swelling in one leg or in any other part of the body.