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My biggest complaint about this pregnancy is swollen feet and ankles; my feet feel weird, it’s not pretty to look at, and I don’t fit in any of my shoes anymore! So I’ve compiled a list of five things you can do to help with swollen feet and ankles during pregnancy.
Dealing With Swollen Feet During Pregnancy
Swollen feet and ankles is a common complaint during pregnancy; you retain more water during pregnancy, blood chemistry changes can cause fluid to shift to the tissue, and your growing uterus can press on the veins in your pelvic area, causing blood to pool in your legs as it has a harder time making it back up to your heart.
Because of the physical changes your body goes through, you probably can’t prevent swelling entirely during pregnancy, but you can certainly make it more manageable!
Important note: While swelling in your feet and ankles (and even face, hands, and lower back) is quite common during pregnancy, you should always tell your doctor if you’re experiencing severe swelling or if the swelling appears suddenly, is accompanied by leg pain, or is more severe in one leg than the other. Swelling can be a sign of more serious complications so if you are ever worried or unsure, talk to your doctor!
When my feet first started to swell, I called my doctor just to make sure that it wasn’t anything scary. She told me it was all totally normal and gave me some advice for dealing with the swelling. I tried out a bunch of things and my feet are way less swollen now, so here are my tips on dealing with swollen feet during pregnancy!
1. Elevate your feet
Put your feet up anytime you’re sitting down. The best thing is to elevate your feet up above your hips so gravity can help the blood flow out of your legs, but even just putting your feet up on a stool or pile of books under your desk will help! Bonus points if you can lay down with your feet up in the air or on a chair so that your feet are above your heart!
2. Keep moving
Movement and exercise help get your blood flowing and moving around. Take regular breaks (every hour or so) from sitting or standing to get your blood circulating again. Even just stretching out your feet and calf muscles, flexing and pointing your toes, and rolling your ankles while you sit at your desk can help. Also, be sure not to cross your legs or ankles while you’re sitting; it can restrict blood flow to your feet and legs.
And if you’re not exercising, now is a great time to start! Of course, don’t go training for a marathon if you’re just getting up off the couch, but walking, swimming, or riding a bike are great ways to get exercise while you’re pregnant!
3. Stay hydrated
In my opinion, this is the most important one of all! I have a hard time staying hydrated even on a normal day; I don’t really like water to begin with and the tap water here in Chicago is pretty hard and mineral-y. But, even though it may seem counter-intuitive to drink more water when you’re already retaining so much fluid, hydrating can really help reduce or even eliminate swelling! Drinking more fluids will make your kidneys work harder, which will help flush out excess sodium and other waste products in your body, which will help reduce swelling.
I went to Walmart and bought one of these awesome filtered Brita sport water bottles about two weeks ago and it’s been by my side ever since!
I take it outside when I water my plants; I take it upstairs to my craft room when I’m blogging; I have it on my desk during the day while I’m working at my day job; I even take it with me out to the garage or patio when I’m doing DIY projects!
You should be drinking at least eight 8 oz glasses of water per day anyway, but when you’re pregnant, staying hydrated is even more important because you need enough fluids for you and the baby. I set a goal for myself of 96 fl oz per day (twelve 8 oz cups), and while it was a little hard in the beginning to go from drinking zero water to drinking twelve cups, I did work my way up and now everything feels a lot better!
Plus the filter in the bottle really helps; it makes the weird Chicago tap water taste a lot better, and I don’t find it nearly as difficult to drink enough water every day when it tastes clean and fresh! If you want to grab your own filtered Brita water bottle, you can find them at Walmart in the Hardware section (in my local Walmart it’s called the Do It Yourself section, gotta love that!)
4. Sleep on your left side
This helps reduce pressure on your inferior vena cava (which is on the right side of your body), which allows the blood to flow through your body more freely.
5. Avoid tight shoes and socks
You don’t want to constrict blood flow in your feet and ankles, so don’t wear socks with tight elastic bands that leave marks on your legs. And make sure you’re wearing comfy shoes that stretch (or flip flops!) And once you get home, take your shoes off; even if they’re comfy and roomy, your feet will be happier in a pair of soft slippers. 🙂
When I first noticed the swelling two weeks ago, this is what my feet looked like, even on a good day!
By the end of most days, my right foot was so swollen I couldn’t see my ankle bones or tendons and when I flexed my toes, my foot looked like a fat little baby foot (cute fat foot with little toes sticking out)! It was super bad. But after about two weeks my feet went back to normal!
I am 100% convinced it was the water bottle and staying hydrated that did it. I was already pretty active, I’ve been wearing flip flops since it’s getting warm, and I already find it most comfortable to sleep on my left side. I did start elevating my feet during the day and making sure I got up and stretched more often, but I’m sure it was the hydration that made the biggest difference. I went from one or two glasses of water a day to 10-12! I definitely had to use the bathroom more often for the first few days (the first night I was up six times to pee, SIX TIMES!), but after a few days my body got used to being more hydrated. And within another day or two the swelling was pretty much gone!
So grab yourself a nice water bottle, carry it around with you all day, and do your body a favor by getting hydrated!
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Disclosure: I received compensation from Pollinate Media and Brita in exchange for my honest discussion of their products. But the Brita water bottle I bought has seriously been a lifesaver, and my feet are hardly swollen at all anymore! All opinions in this post are 100% my own. I would never write a post about something I didn’t think was useful or interesting for you guys, and Practically Functional will only publish sponsored posts for companies or products I love and believe in! 🙂
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