I have always hated to look down and see that my feet are pouring out of my super cute shoes these days, but unfortunately, swollen feet are a very common symptom of pregnancy.
Your tummy isn’t the only thing that’s swelling these days – you may notice mild swelling throughout your body and, thanks to the laws of gravity, particularly in your feet and ankles.
Now let’s look at the hows and whys:
- The body produces approximately 50% more blood and body fluids to meet the needs of the developing baby, thus the swelling.
- It is needed to soften the body, which enables it to expand as the baby develops.
- It also helps prepare the pelvic joints and tissues to open for delivery.
- It accounts for approximately 25% of the weight women gain during pregnancy.
When does it occur exactly?
Swelling may be experienced at any point during pregnancy, but it’s more common to be seen around the fifth month and is the maximum in the third trimester until you give birth (on the bright side, pretty soon you won’t be able to see anything below your belly anyway)..
It’s generally observed in the extremities whereas actually it’s throughout the body including the face [that’s why the chubby look]!
Other factors that may affect swelling are:
- Summer [you retain more fluid in warmer weather]
- Standing for long periods of time
- Long days of activity
- Diet low in potassium
- High sodium intake [through salt, processed and packaged foods etc]
- High caffeine consumption [tea, coffee, green tea, chocolates, soft drinks, some ice-creams]
- Evenings [blood pools in your feet throughout the day, so the swelling will be worse around nighttime]
Slight swelling is common and known as EDEMA whereas sudden swelling in your hands and your face, it could be a sign of PREECLAMPSIA.
Symptoms of preeclampsia
Mild – high blood pressure, water retention, protein in the urine.
Severe – a headache, inability to tolerate bright light, blurred vision, fatigue, urinating in small amounts, shortness of breath, pain in upper right abdomen and tendency to bruise very easily.
Ways you can fight the swell
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Stretch often [it improves circulation and reduces cramps]
- Take breaks from sitting or standing for long periods of time
- Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water [yes, that’s right, you need to increase the water intake to flush out the excess!]
- Minimize outdoor time when it is hot
- Elevate your feet several times a day.
- Avoid clothes that are tight around the wrists and ankles
- Limit the use of salt in your meals. Remember, don’t cut it out entirely as it will increase the swelling. But like everything, it’s best to keep your intake in moderation and salt to taste.
- Avoid fried, processed, packaged as well as junk foods
- Exercise regularly. Do pregnancy-appropriate exercises or walking (which keeps the blood flowing instead of pooling).
- Avoid drinking alcohol
- Avoid beverages containing caffeine
- Include lots of fruits and veggies in your diet
- Sleep on your left side
- Have a tsp of apple cider vinegar with warm water early morning. It’s high in potassium and will help in balancing electrolytes, reducing the swelling to a great extent!
- Opt for foods that are naturally rich in vitamins C and E. Good sources of vitamin C include:
- citrus fruits
- green and red peppers
Foods rich in vitamin E include:
- flax seeds
- pumpkin seeds
- sunflower seeds
- cashew nuts and
Here’s the good news – your body will eliminate the excess fluid shortly after delivery, so you can say goodbye to those puffy feet and hello again to sandals! 😉
Zahra is a qualified Dietitian and a Sports Nutritionist (‘Nutritionista’ to her loved ones) who practices a holistic approach to health and wellness. She helps her clients to change their relationship with food into a positive one which results in having a lasting impact on their nutritional choices as well as their lives.
She believes that a healthy, balanced life is a journey, not a destination and it’s never late to get on board!
In her own words, “Nothing tastes better than feeling great! :)”