One of the really 'fun' symptoms of the later stages of pregnancy is the delightful swollen hands and/or feet. Now this should not be confused with a more serious condition called Pre-eclampsia. Always mention to your midwife if you start to notice any swelling. The biggest difference is the time it takes and the cause. If you have sudden swelling with no known cause then this could be a sign a pre-eclampsia. If you have been on your feet all day and by the end of the day your ankles and feet are swollen, then it is more likely to be a symptom of pregnancy. But as mentioned already, its always best to mention any body changes to your midwife.
So, we've checked with our midwife and it is not pre-eclampsia. So what is causing this swelling?
When you are pregnant your fluid levels increase. During the last 6 weeks you can add an additional 1500ml of fluid to your body! The bodies ability to use and remove this fluid can be a little reduced so, with gravity the excess fluid can end up at our feet or in our hands. In some cases this fluid can press on our nerves causing some tingling feelings.
Top 5 tips to help reduce the swelling
1. Don't wear tight shoes/socks around the ankles
Wearing tight shoes or socks can restrict the fluids ability to move out of the foot and can increase the pressure on the nerves. Try and wear open shoes such as flipflops, pumps, or very lose fitting trainers if safe to do so. Try and wear lose socks, tights or tall socks that go over the knee
2. Try doing ankle pumps
Gently moving the foot up and down, preferably in standing uses the bodies natural process of pushing the fluid up the leg and out of the body. Standing heel raises regularly throughout the day can be really beneficial to reduce the amount of swelling there by the end of the day.
3. Reduce the amount of standing in the day
Whilst sitting all day has its own list of problems, standing all day will increase the amount of fluid that moves to the ankle. If possible try to take regular breaks from standing, and elevate the foot. This will help gravity to move the fluid out of the foot.
4. Massage, massage, massage
Massaging your feet during the day, especially at the end of the day will help to physically move that fluid away. Big sweeping movements up the foot and up the leg all the way to the knee will really help to move that fluid. If you have a kind partner that you live with, this can be a great way for them to earn extra brownie points!
5. Drink plenty of water
This may seem a bit counter-intuitive if you already have excess fluid. However by drinking plenty of water it helps to hydrate the body, allow the urinary and lymphatic system to work more efficiently, and therefore help to reduce some of the fluid already within the body.
If you have any concerns or queries its always best to talk to a health professional. Remember this advice is generic and not necessarily specific to your individual needs. The NHS guidance pages are really useful to learn more about the causes and things that you can do.