3 Jun 2022 | 6 min Read
Author | 607 Articles
Finding it more difficult to tie your shoes than usual? Well, swollen feet and ankles might be to blame. Yes, your belly isn’t the only thing that’s swelling during pregnancy. You might have mild swelling throughout your body – especially, in your feet and ankles. Swelling feet and ankles are common during pregnancy because the body retains extra fluid to protect and support the growing foetus.
Medical reports suggest that swelling in the feet and ankles usually happens during the third trimester when the weight of the uterus and foetus puts extra pressure on the legs and feet. This pressure can reduce circulation and increase fluid buildup, and cause swelling. Here’s everything you need to know about swollen feet and ankles during pregnancy.
Apart from the increase in fluid production and retention, there are some other causes of swollen feet and ankles during pregnancy:
The large uterus exerts pressure on the inferior vena cava, the vein which carries blood from the lower half of the body to the heart. This pressure slows down the blood circulation and causes the blood to pool in the legs, resulting in fluid accumulation in the tissues of the feet and ankles.
Swollen feet and ankles can sometimes signal a health issue during pregnancy. Some of these are:
It increases your blood pressure and leads to organ problems in pregnant women.
Women might also notice a puffy or swollen face, swelling around the eyes, or sudden swelling in the hands.
There might also be some decolourisation in the legs. Medical reports suggest that it occurs after 20 weeks of gestation or up to 6 weeks after giving birth.
Preeclampsia can progress quickly, and without treatment, it can be dangerous for the mum and the baby.
Your doctor might prescribe antihypertensive drugs to lower blood pressure. Plus, if the pregnancy has reached 37 weeks or more, they might recommend delivering the baby early.
Studies show that pregnant mums and women who have given birth within the last three months have a higher risk of DVT because blood clots more easily during pregnancy to prevent the excess blood loss during labour and birth.
The growing foetus also puts pressure on the feet, which can reduce circulation. Being less mobile than usual during both pregnancy and the recovery period after childbirth can also reduce blood flow in the legs.
Your doctor might prescribe a drug called low-molecular-weight heparin to prevent or treat blood clots and DVT and will inject the drug under the skin.
Although swollen feet and ankles can be uncomfortable, there are some steps that help ease your symptoms during pregnancy:
It will also be a good idea to avoid canned or processed foods, as these are especially high in sodium.
Some foods that are high in potassium include:
Some fruit juices that are high in potassium include:
It will be better if you lie down with your legs elevated.
Elevating your legs slightly with the help of pillows might also help.
These stockings gently squeeze your feet and legs and will keep the fluid circulating.
Take walks, ride a stationary bike or swim laps in a pool to stay physically active.
Wearing comfortable (even orthotic), well-fitting shoes can reduce foot swelling and prevent hip and back problems that can arise as your centre of gravity shifts and your weight increases.
Swollen feet and ankles is usually a normal part of the later stages of pregnancy and is not a cause for concern. However, it is advisable to consult a doctor if you notice a sudden increase in swelling in the feet, hands, or face, or around the eyes along with intense headaches, blurry vision, blisters and a warm, tender red rash.
DISCLAIMER: We have taken steps to check the accuracy of information & practices shared above; however, it is not a replacement for a doctor’s opinion. Please check with either your doctor, or an expert, before trying any suggestion, practice, or medication mentioned here.
Suggestions offered by doctors on BabyChakra are of advisory nature i.e., for educational and informational purposes only. Content posted on, created for, or compiled by BabyChakra is not intended or designed to replace your doctor's independent judgment about any symptom, condition, or the appropriateness or risks of a procedure or treatment for a given person.