Swollen feet and ankles is a common and uncomfortable complaint for many of my pregnant mamas. For many, this happens more toward 2nd and 3rd trimesters and can also be triggered by heat or other environmental factors. There are some folks that are simply more prone to swollen feet throughout their pregnancy, but a good percentage of folks will notice at least some slight swelling in the weeks before baby arrives. Part of the reason swelling takes place at this time is the body is preparing for childbirth, building up its stores of fluids with the knowledge that during childbirth many of these floods will be lost...ah, the wisdom of these bodies of ours! Regardless of the cause, swelling can be super uncomfortable. Here are some things you can do that may help bring you some relief!
Get in the Water
Swimming (and even just floating!) in water when you're pregnant is one of the absolute best things you can do for yourself. First of all, getting into water helps reduce the load of gravity on the body. It takes the strain of joints, and off back and can help us find a sense of ease and release we may struggle with finding elsewhere in our lives. Swimming is also a great way to get moving (see below) that will help reduce the swelling in our body without putting a lot of impact or strain on back and joints. In addition, immersion in water also helps the body to shed excess water that collects under the skin through the kidneys. Its a win-win, you get to shed the pressure of gravity for a while and hopefully loose some of the swelling in the feet.
Movement can be of huge help to swelling. Whether its doing a prenatal yoga practice with a little bit more movement in it or going out for a brisk walk, getting your body going can be helpful to reducing swelling. Increasing your heart rate, helps kick up your circulation, the increased circulation gets fluid moving through the body and can help with swelling. If you spend a lot of time sitting during the day, this movement becomes especially important. Try getting up every hour or so and going for a short walk, even if its just a couple of laps around your office. Trust me, your feet will thank you by the end of the day.
It sounds counter-intuitive right? You are already feel so full of fluids, why the heck would you want to put more in, right? Swelling can actually be a sign of dehydration so increasing your fluids is incredibly important when we start to see swelling. The increase in water intake can also help mobilize fluids in your body and begin moving things through to help you process them and reduce swelling. Keep a water bottle with you at all times and try for tiny sips as much possible, rather than pounding a whole water bottle from time to time.
Put your Feet Up
Legs up the wall is my absolute favorite yoga pose for swollen feet. For most mamas, unless you are late into your pregnancy, legs up the wall is a pose that can be relatively comfortable for an extended period of time (and if you're also dealing with a breech baby there's added benefit in this pose for you !). To set up comfortably in this pose, make sure you have yoga bolster, pillow or folded blanket to lift your hips off the floor. To come into the pose, set the prop at the wall and come to sit on the very edge of the prop facing outward with your hip right against the wall. Bring your outside arm down the floor and as you come down toward the floor scoot yourself closer to the wall. From there bring your head down and use your top arm and legs to help push/kick you up. Stay here as long as you like.
***When is swelling a sign of a larger issue? Be on the lookout for more swelling in one leg than the other, accompanied by pain, which can signal a possible blood clot. A headache that won’t go away, along with vision changes (like blurriness or sensitivity to light), can be signs of preeclampsia (pregnancy-specific high blood pressure), and swelling accompanied by chest pains or difficulty breathing could mean heart trouble. Contact your health-care practitioner immediately if you experience any of these additional red flags.
Wisdom and insight with a dash of humor to help guide you on your journey through motherhood.