For parents-to-be, expecting a baby is an exciting time, with the adventure of parenthood on the horizon. However, with the hormonal changes in her body, sometimes, life can get somewhat uncomfortable (and swollen!) for expectant mums.
One of the dreaded but common effects that pregnancy brings is swollen feet and ankles. Towards the end of the day, many mums-to-be find that extra water gathers in the lowest parts of the body, especially if they have been standing a lot or if the weather is hot, not good news for the ladies in sunny Malaysia.
To bring some relief from swollen feet and ankles, mothers-to-be can take some simple steps.
- They can avoid putting too much pressure on the feet. If you’re pregnant, avoid standing for long periods and elevate your feet as much as you can. Try to rest for an hour a day with your feet higher than the heart. For example, prop up your feet with cushions while you lie on the sofa. You can also sleep on your left side, as this takes pressure off the large vein that returns blood from the lower half of your body to your heart (inferior vena cava).
- Make sure to also wear suitable shoes and clothes. Wear comfortable shoes and avoid tight straps or anything that might pinch swollen feet. Also, make sure your shoes don’t cut into the skin or injure your swollen feet. Wear loose clothing as tight clothing can restrict blood flow. Don’t wear socks or stockings with tight bands on the ankles or calves. Additionally, you could ask your doctor about wearing compression stocking or tights, as these could provide pain relief and prevent fluid collection in your legs, ankles and feet.
- Be sure to hydrate sufficiently. Water retention and swelling doesn’t mean cutting back on how much you drink. The Institute of Medicine recommends about 10 cups (2.4 litres) of fluids a day during pregnancy. Do also limit your salt intake.
- Meanwhile, light exercise is beneficial. Do foot exercises to improve blood circulation, reduce swelling in the ankles, and prevent cramps in the calf muscles. Just bend and stretch the foot up and down, and rotate the foot in a circle, making sure to exercise both feet. Be physically active every day. Take walks, ride stationary bikes or swim. Swimming is considered beneficial as it is a non-weight-bearing exercise that can also soothe the skin.
- Some research suggests that foot massage and reflexology might help decrease foot and ankle swelling during pregnancy. Also recommended is soaking your feet and ankles to relieve pain associated with swelling.