Puffy, swollen feet can be one of the more annoying side effects of late pregnancy. The swelling, officially known as edema, is the result of the increased water production and retention. Pregnancy weight gain puts pressure on the vena cava, affecting blood flow, which in turn affects swelling in the lower body.
Swelling can be a huge drag anytime, but as the weather gets colder, it actually presents some logistical problems: namely, how to fit your feet into shoes when they’re magnified to twice their normal girth. I know some pregnant women who have resorted to flip flops in frigid temperatures, some who relied on an Ugg-like boot solution. There’s also the option of going up a size. Or several… I was wearing my husband’s shoes for a while the second time around.
Fashion concerns aside, swelling is rarely a cause for worry.(The exceptions: Swelling is sudden and/or severe, affects the eyes or face. These types of swelling can be a sign of pre-eclampsia which requires immediate medical attention. Swelling is one sided or uneven. This could be a sign of a blood clot in the leg, also a medical emergency.) But swelling is a cause for complaining, and there are things you can do to improve the situation.
Here are 10 ways you can soothe your swollen feet in pregnancy:
1. Get someone to rub your feet. A new study shows that foot massage helped 80% of pregnant women with edema. The other 20% were just really, really relaxed about it.
2. Keep your feet up. Less gravity = less swelling. It also equals more laying around and making other people do things for you.
3. Avoid clothing or hosiery with constricting bands. Cutting off circulation traps fluids in the extremities.
4. Try waist high support hose. These distribute even pressure on the lower body without constricting. They can also help prevent varicose veins. And make you look like a Hooters waitress.
5. Stay cool. Hot weather increases swelling.
6. Get wet. Being immersed in water can help reduce swelling (at least temporarily).
7. Keep your legs uncrossed. Crossing your knees or ankles can cut off your circulation, leading to more swelling.
8. Move around a lot. The longer you sit still, the less fluids move around in your body. If you have to sit, wiggle, twist or shake out your legs and feet.
9. Work out. Exercise increases heart rate, which increases circulation, and decreases swelling.
10. Lie on your left side. This reduces pressure on your vena cava and increases blood circulation to minimize pooling.