Dear Foot Blogger Chick,
I am pregnant with my first child! I am so excited but my friends have told me that my feet will swell up like balloons. Is that true? Why?
Excited Expectant Mom
Congratulations! How very exciting for you. As you have probably read and know, your body will be going through a lot of changes over the next nine months. Some of those changes can affect your feet.
Yes, there is a possibility that your feet will swell. This is called edema. This happens because during pregnancy your body produces and retains more fluid. As your uterus grows, it puts pressure on the veins to your legs and feet. When the blood is not circulating as efficiently, there can be some swelling in your legs, ankles, and feet. This will probably go away after you give birth.
In the meantime, you can take some measures to help make the problem not so uncomfortable. The first and most obvious is to try and stay off your feet as much as possible. Also, don’t sit with your legs crossed. When you can, sit with your feet up. While you are sitting there, rotate your ankles every few minutes to keep the circulation moving. The best solution is for you to lay down with your feet elevated. This is a great solution but not always easy to follow. Also try and sleep on your left side. (This takes the pressure off the vein that returns blood from your legs and feet to your heart.)
When you do need to be upright and on your feet, you might want to try wearing compression stockings to aid with circulation. Also, although it might seem in contrast with the other advice, do get some physical activity each day. Getting your heart pumping with activity will also help the swelling.
There is some research that shows that regular foot massages can really help reduce foot swelling. I am sure your husband will be more than happy to accommodate your request for foot rubs when you tell him it is recommended by medical research.
I always thought that eating lots of ice cream would help but it seems that is not the thing to do. So, while it sounds like the best advice, it isn’t. Sorry!
Even though you didn’t ask, there are some other things that you can do for your feet during your pregnancy to make it more comfortable.
Plantar Fasciitis is a common problem for pregnant women. As your pregnancy progresses and you gain weight, it can put a strain on your feet. In particular, the thick band of tissue that runs from your heel to your toes. If you are not wearing shoes that support your arch, the tissue can stretch out and become painful. This problem is usually felt more in the heel than in the arch but you need to wear shoes that will support your arch. (This means I am invoking the “No Flip Flops” rule.) If you are wearing supportive shoes and you are still in pain, you will want to go see your friendly local podiatrist to see what he can do to help make you more comfortable.
Another problem the pregnant women can face is ingrown toe nails. As we talked about before, it is possible for a pregnant woman’s feet to swell. Sometimes women will keep wearing their regular shoes rather than buying the next size. When you wear shoes that are tight, not only are they uncomfortable but they can squeeze your toes and cause an ingrown toenail. Contrary to what some may think, an ingrown toe nail can be treated during pregnancy. A visit to your friendly local podiatrist will help you with this painful problem.
Take care of those feet during pregnancy and you will be much more comfortable. Best of luck to you!
The Foot Blogger Chick
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave them in the comment section below. I am not a doctor but I check with one before answering questions.
Trivia Question of the week – According to the National Academy of Sciences, the healthiest babies are born to women who gain at least how many pounds during pregnancy?
Find the answer on our Facebook page – Evanston Podiatric Surgeons – on August 9. While you’re there, please take a moment to “like” us.
Follow us on twitter – @EvPodiatric and the answer will be tweeted on Friday morning as well.
If you live or work downtown Chicago and would like to see one of the friendly podiatrists there, don’t worry! You can head over to the office on the “Magnificent Mile” in Chicago. Stop in and say “Hello”. They would love to meet you. They are really that friendly!
Mag Mile Foot and Ankle Institute
333 N. Michigan Avenue Suite 1825
Chicago, IL 60601