I was seven months into my pregnancy when I observed that my feet were remarkably swollen, and man did it hurt alot! I couldn’t deal, it wasn’t only a swollen belly I had to deal with, I now had a swollen feet and ankles to deal with, the discomfort was a major one, I started finding it difficult to wear my everyday shoes and when it became unbearable and a source of worry to me, I saw myself off to the hospital, where I was told I had ‘Pedal Edema’. Phewwww! This prompted me to carry further research on my own and I am here to share this knowledge with our moms to be.

“Edema” is a medical term for swelling. Medications, pregnancy, infections can cause edema. It happens when your small blood vessels leak fluid into nearby tissues. That extra fluid builds up, which makes the tissue swell. It can happen almost anywhere in the body.

Pedal Edema happens when fluid gathers in your feet and lower legs. It’s more common if you’re older or pregnant. It can make it harder to move around in part because you may not have as much feeling in your feet. The amount of swelling you experience can vary by the hour (increasing in the evening) and by the weather (warmer temperatures forecast more swelling). Edema affects about three quaters of pregnant women, it can start around week 22 to week 27 of pregnancy, and will likely stick around until you give birth.

During pregnancy, edema occurs when body fluids increase to nurture you and your baby and accumulate in your tissues as a result of increased blood flow and pressure of your growing uterus on the pelvic veins and your vena cava (the large vein on the right side of your body that returns blood from your lower limbs to your heart). This causes you to experience this oh-so-necessary increase as oh-so-annoying swelling, particularly swollen ankles and feet (but also your hands, as you may have noticed when you last tried to take off your rings). You might also be sporting more swelling in your feet if your weight gain has been on the faster side.

Mild swelling of the ankle and feet caused by edema is harmless and perfectly normal. It’s also just as normal not to experience noticeable swelling. However, if your hands or face become puffy or if swelling persists for more than a day at a time (i.e., it doesnt improve overnight), call your practitioner. If your blood pressure and urine are normal, there is nothing to be concerned about.

What to do to stop feet from sweeling during pregnancy:

  1. Avoid long periods of standing or sitting, if you are on your feet a lot, take breaks and have a seat. If you are sitting down a lot, take a 5 minute stroll at least once an hour.
  2. Kick up your feet. Elevate your legs when you are sitting, who has a better excuse to put up her feet than a pregnant woman?
  3. Sleep on your side, preferably your left side, it helps keep your kidneys humming along, which helps eliminates waste and reduce swelling.
  4. Keep moving by doing some pregnancy appropriate exercise, remember to seek advice from your doctor as to which exercises is appropriate for you.
  5. Wear comfy shoes when you are out and ditch them for a pair of soft slippers when you are home.
  6. Drink lots of water, it may seem counterintuitive to try to flush out fluids with fluids, but drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day will help rid your system of excess sodium and other waste products, minimizing swelling.
  7. Don’t go crazy with the salt shaker. Limiting salt too much increases swelling, so don’t cut it off entirely. keep your intake moderately and salt your food to taste.

Don’t forget to join us next week for another exciting episode on ‘what you need to know when expecting’.

Cheers to a splendid and healthy weekend.