One of the biggest complaints from moms is swollen feet during pregnancy! When you are pregnant, EVERYTHING gets harder. You have less energy, you gain weight, and your body works harder just to maintain your pre-pregnancy level of activity.
One of the reasons lower body swelling occurs during pregnancy is because when a woman is pregnant, fluid increases substantially in her body. The combination of gravity, upright positions during the day (walking, sitting, standing), and increased fluid results in… leg swelling! Gravity pulls the excess fluid down to the legs, feet, and ankles. All pregnant moms will agree: this swelling is uncomfortable, in more ways than one!
Elevate your swollen ankles
To reduce swollen ankles during pregnancy, leg elevation is essential. Some women try to stack pillows up as a leg prop. However, it takes an average of 7 regular pillows to adequately support your legs above your heart. These 7 pillows need to be positioned properly from your gluteal fold to your ankles, and fully support the weight of your legs. Oftentimes, storing 7 pillows and trying to position them just right isn’t practical.
Because pregnancy is 9 months long, and comfort, practicality, and convenience are top priority, many moms might prefer to use just one wedge pillow to elevate their swollen feet. A wedge pillow specific for leg swelling during pregnancy is:
- 1 wedge pillow as opposed to 7
- easy to set up
- keeps your legs fully supported at the correct height
- the most comfortable option for leg elevation
Mama, take at least 3 breaks during the day to elevate your swollen feet during pregnancy. These 10-15 minutes breaks are needed for your health, well-being, resilience, and comfort. Elevating your feet with a wedge pillow can be a great way to reduce swelling while you are growing your precious baby.
As I mentioned earlier, pregnancy can lead to decreased energy, weight gain, and increased fluid volume in the body. You may be asking, “How can I exercise when I can barely make it through my day?” The key is consistency and loading.
If you aren’t pregnant yet, try to start a consistent exercise program. Women who have been exercising prior to pregnancy are able to safely maintain their current level of fitness during their pregnancy. Sometimes, you aren’t able to start an exercise program before getting pregnant ! Life gets in the way, so no worries!
If you haven’t been actively engaged in an exercise program, you can still start one up. Just be sure to start at a beginner’s level. Growing a baby is not the time to go from 0 to 60!
Starting out, even exercises as simple as ankle pumps and heel slides on a wedge pillow are perfect for getting rid of leg swelling during pregnancy. These exercises get your blood flowing, muscles pumping, and help push swelling out of your legs.
Starting a light walking program can also be beneficial for leg swelling during pregnancy. Walking is safe, and is a great way to get your body and joints moving. From there, you can gradually begin to focus on increasing strength and endurance.
Diet and fluid considerations
Diet and water consumption is another essential way to manage swollen ankles during pregnancy. Drinking enough water and taking in the correct nutrients are important components of a healthy pregnancy. This two factors directly influence swelling and how your body functions on a day-to-day basis.
Swollen feet during pregnancy
Swelling is a normal part of pregnancy. But, with the proper diet, consistent leg elevation, and simple exercises, you can directly control some of how your body responds during pregnancy. Don’t let swelling take you over during one of the most special times of your life!
-Hillary Blare, Doctor of Physical Therapy