Pregnancy can cause all kinds of uncomfortable changes to your body. One of the most common is swelling, which can happen in your ankles, feet, hands, and other areas of your body.
Swelling during pregnancy is normal and is especially common during the last trimester. It happens because your body starts producing and storing more fluids to protect the health of both you and your baby.
However, swelling can be really uncomfortable and even painful. Although you can’t make the swelling disappear, here’s what you can do to find relief from pregnancy-related swelling and pain.
Rotate Between Walking and Sitting
Long periods of walking can aggravate swelling pain—but long periods of sitting can aggravate it, too. Make sure you’re rotating between the two activities throughout the day and that you’re not spending too long doing one or the other.
Walking is actually better for your swelling than standing is because the movement helps your blood flow throughout your body. So make sure you get in a few minutes of walking every day. Other kinds of gentle exercises can help, too.
Stay Cool in the Heat
Hot temperatures can make the swelling even worse, so try to stay out of the sun. Sticking your swollen feet in a cold pool or bath may help reduce heat-related swelling. Plus, swimming may help push the fluids away from your tissues to reduce your swelling.
Choose the Right Shoes
Tight, uncomfortable shoes can squeeze your feet and make the pain even worse. Unfortunately, your favorite high-heeled shoes fit in this category and probably aren’t a good idea when you have swollen feet.
You might notice that your feet go up a shoe size during your pregnancy. If this is the case, don’t increase the pain by trying to squeeze into your old shoes. Find a new pair that provides the support and comfort you need.
You may think taking in more fluids can increase your swelling. In reality, drinking enough water helps remove waste products from your system, which can reduce your swelling.
The amount of water to drink differs from person to person, but a common rule is to drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day.
Get Massage Therapy
Getting a massage relaxes your muscle tissue and reduces nerve compression. Swollen feet, legs, hands, and arms give you a good reason to schedule a massage therapy session. The massage might hurt a little at first on your swollen limbs. If it’s too painful, you can ask your massage therapist to use a softer touch.
If you don’t want to spring for a professional massage, a massage from your partner should do the trick.
Wear Compression Socks
One of the best things you can do for your swollen feet is to invest in a pair of graduated compression socks. These socks put more pressure/squeeze near your ankle, and as the compression graduates, less pressure at the knee. This design helps your blood circulate upwards to improve blood flow. It also prevents other fluids from building up in your feet.
Compression socks can help your swollen feet feel better, whether you’re sitting or walking. There are different kinds of compression socks for different needs. Firm compression socks offer 20 to- 30 mmHg of support and work for severe swelling. Moderate compression socks offer 15 -to 20 mmHg and work for mild to moderate swelling.
Elevate Your Feet
Just as it relieves pain after an injury, elevating your feet can relieve pain from swelling. That’s because elevating your feet can prevent blood from building up at your feet and can thereby improve circulation. Lift your feet about ten inches above the level of your heart for relief.
Placing an icepack or cold compress on your swollen feet may help you relieve pain as well.
See Your Doctor
If your swelling is severe and getting worse, see a doctor. Excessive swelling can be a sign of preeclampsia, which is high blood pressure related to pregnancy. Other symptoms of preeclampsia include:
- Blood pressure increase
- Fast heartbeat
- Unexpected weight gain
- Vision changes
- Upper abdominal pain
Preeclampsia can damage your liver and kidneys and can prevent your baby from getting enough oxygen and blood. Thus, it’s important to see a doctor right away if you notice symptoms.
However, most cases of swelling are normal and not dangerous. Your swelling should go down after you have the baby.
If you’re experiencing pregnancy-related swelling — especially in the ankles and legs –, follow these steps to find some relief. For top medical-grade compression socks, turn to SmoothToe for a variety of comfortable graduated compression sock options.