You’re expecting, and it’s an exciting journey, but those swollen feet you’re experiencing are not a welcome symptom. You’re not alone, this is a common pregnancy symptom. Today, we’ll discover the cause of swollen feet in pregnancy and share some solutions, so you can focus on what’s really important: preparing for the arrival of your little one!

What Causes Swollen Feet During Pregnancy? 

This is a common source of discomfort for women who are expecting. And there a few different reasons why it happens. One is because you’re carrying extra fluids, which your body produces to meet the needs of your growing baby. This is part of the beautiful, albeit sometimes uncomfortable, process of creating new life. 

You may find comfort in knowing that this is a shared process among many mothers to be. And in knowing that there are various remedies to alleviate the swelling, such as elevating your feet and staying hydrated. Remember, this is just a temporary phase. The joy of holding your little one will make it all worthwhile. 

But water and rest won’t solve all your swelling concerns. Your feet are a complex system of bones, joints and muscles.  As pregnancy progresses, these components can react and adapt in surprising ways. Your feet carry the extra weight of your growing baby which can strain your arches and cause swelling. It’s common to have some discomfort, but there’s no need to endure unnecessary pain during your pregnancy. To combat this cause of swelling, try wearing supportive shoes; doing foot exercises; and elevating your feet when possible. If you’re experiencing persistent pain, don’t hesitate to contact our podiatrist in Houston, TX. Remember, taking care of your feet is part of taking care of your baby! 

Other Causes of Swelling 

Swelling in your feet during pregnancy can be attributed to a few key factors: hormonal changes causing fluid retention; increased blood volume, leading to circulation changes; and the added weight and position of your baby. Understanding these causes can help you manage and possibly lessen the swelling you’re experiencing. 

During pregnancy, your body undergoes hormonal changes, often causing fluid retention that can, in turn, cause your feet to swell. Your body’s working hard to nurture your growing baby, and sometimes it shows in ways you wouldn’t expect. It’s a natural part of the journey, and there’s no reason to feel alarmed unless you’re also experiencing pain. 

In pregnancy, you also have increased blood volume and circulation alterations, which are also factors in causing your feet to swell. But it’s all part of the process of growing new life. Your body is working overtime to support you, and also your little one. So that extra fluid? It’s there for a reason. It ensures that you have enough blood to nourish you and the baby. And those circulation changes? They’re necessary to deliver nutrients to your growing child. 

Most of your baby’s weight and position can significantly influence how much your feet swell. As your little one grows, they’re not just taking up room in your belly, they’re also putting pressure on your veins, especially the inferior vena cava, which carries blood from your lower limbs back to your heart. If your baby’s position obstructs this blood flow, it can cause fluid to pool in your feet, leading to swelling. Remember, it’s ok to take breaks and elevate your feet. 

Flat Feet After Pregnancy

Resting and elevating your feet can also help you avoid another pregnancy foot symptom: flat feet. You see, some women say that their feet grew a size after pregnancy. Others complain of having flat feet after delivering. In reality, both complaints have the same cause: arches that collapse under the weight of your growing baby. Why might this happen? Well, there are two combined reasons. 

First, during pregnancy, your body is filled with relaxin, which loosens up your tendons and ligaments. Then, you gain significant weight during this time. Together, the pressure can be too much for your arches, causing them collapse. Now, you have flat feet. And your feet may seem wider, meaning your old shoes don't fit anymore. Thankfully, though, this effect of pregnancy is not inevitable. 

So, how can we prevent flat feet after pregnancy? Throughout your pregnancy, be sure to wear supportive shoes. Consider investing in custom orthotics as well, for added support. And, even if your arches do collapse slightly, know that we can help reduce the impact of flat feet--and other effects of pregnancy on your feet--with simple interventions. In other words, flat feet aren't something you really need to worry about. But here are some times when changes to your feet should cause concern. 

When to Worry

You might have heard that swollen feet during pregnancy is a sure sign of preeclampsia, but that’s not always the case. It’s also a myth that only unhealthy pregnancies result in swollen feet. Let’s clear up those misconceptions right now and gain a proper understanding of what truly causes swollen feet. 

It’s not a sign you’re carrying twins, nor does it mean you’re having a big baby. Also, contrary to popular belief, it’s not just a sit and endure situation. There are proactive steps you can take to alleviate foot swelling. And we’ll review them right now.

How to Relieve Foot Swelling During Pregnancy

First, consider safe exercises and foot stretches known to relieve foot swelling. Remember, your choice of footwear and dietary considerations can also play a significant role in managing fluid retention. There’s a variety of safe exercises and foot stretches you can do, including the two moves below that are known to alleviate swelling. 

1.    Start with ankle pumps, a simple exercise you can do when sitting or lying down. While moving only your feet, point the toes up toward your head, then down away from it, repeating 30 times, at least three times each day. 

2.    Toe raises can be done anywhere, anytime. Start sitting, with your feet flat on the floor and your hands resting. Now, lift the toes on your right foot, keeping the left foot planted. Hold for five seconds, lower the toes, and repeat on the other side. That’s one rep; aim for 10-15. 

All of these are excellent, but don’t push yourself too hard. Listen to your body, it knows what it can handle. 

Foot Wear to Reduce Swelling

Beyond exercises, remember to elevate your feet when you can, hydrate, and wear comfortable shoes. Along with exercises it’s crucial to consider your shoes as they can impact your comfort and overall foot health. Opt for shoes with good arch support; avoid high heels. And remember, since your feet may swell, choosing shoes that are easy to adjust will be a plus. Avoid flip-flops, even though they’re easy to slip on and off. 

Diet Changes

Limit salty foods to regulate your body’s water balance and reduce fluid retention. Staying hydrated can also help your body stop holding on to extra fluid, so drink up. Adding foods rich in potassium and magnesium like bananas and avocados and spinach can also help reduce swelling. 

With all this, when is it time to seek help for swollen feet during your pregnancy? Be sure to keep up with regular appointments during this time, and reach out for an appointment at the first sign of swelling in your feet. We can help manage pain and swelling and keep you confident on your feet for these nine months and beyond! And we can also provide you a free e-book on pregnancy foot health, available here for download!


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