Hint: Your belly’s not the only thing that’s swelling
During pregnancy, a women’s body goes through many dramatic alterations, not the least of which is the growing person inside of her. Many of these changes, while expected, can cause discomfort and even pain to certain parts of the body during this nine-month journey. And while you may find yourself constantly focused on your swelling belly, it’s just as important to be mindful of your feet. Here’s why:
About 75 percent of pregnant women will experience edema, or swelling, of the feet and ankles while they are pregnant. It normally hits about week 22 but some women don’t notice any swelling until they are into their 27th week. Edema is caused by your body’s natural increase in fluids during pregnancy and although it’s normal, it can be annoying, especially when you try to squeeze into your shoes!
Most women who are experiencing this notice it more at the end of the day, which is usually when edema is at its peak. And after a good night’s sleep, the swelling usually subsides until you’ve been up and walking around again. Here are some tips on decreasing the swelling in your feet and ankles:
- Take frequent breaks after standing or sitting for long periods of time
- Keep your feet elevated while you’re sitting
- Sleep on your side – this helps your kidneys eliminate waste more easily, which reduces swelling
- Try light exercise. Speak to your doctor first, but swimming or short walks can help keep the blood flowing
- Stay away from tight socks and stockings
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Stay hydrated. Drinking a lot of water helps eliminate excess sodium and waste, which can decrease swelling
- Go easy on the salt
Over-pronation and flat feet
While not every woman experiences this, for many women, the extra weight they gain during pregnancy can cause so much pressure that their feet become flattened and their arches start to fall. And when this happens, over-pronation, or a turning in of the feet, can also occur. This condition can cause pain and discomfort and can stretch out the plantar fascia, which are the tissues that line the bottom of your feet.
As your feet are being flatten and stretched, it’s not uncommon to experience a condition known as Plantar Fasciitis, a sharp pain that you’ll feel in your heel and along the bottom of your foot. The pain is often worse first thing in the morning or after you’ve been sitting a long time. And while you really cannot get rid of it completely until after you’ve given birth, there are certain things you can do to reduce the pain, including:
Get an arch support: An insert that supports your arch can often help. You can pick one up at a supermarket or a drugstore
Wear shoes that have support: Stay away from flip-flops, sandals, and flats that usually offer no arch support
Apply ice: Taking a 20-minute break during the day and icing your foot can reduce the inflammation and reduce pain
Keep your feet up: Elevating your feet can reduce the inflammation
Do some stretching: Stretching your calf muscle can often help to relieve the tightness of Plantar Fasciitis
Pregnancy is undoubtedly the most incredible experience you’ll ever go through. Make sure that in addition to taking care of yourself and following your doctor’s recommendations, you are mindful of the changes that affect your feet and ankles. Remember, although a certain amount of swelling and pain may be normal, if you are concerned or are finding that your Plantar Fasciitis isn’t subsiding, it is a good idea to have your feet checked. In that case, give my office a call at 954-452-4590 and set up an appointment – there’s no reason to suffer with discomfort during your entire pregnancy.
Dr. Nina L. Coletta has been practicing Podiatry for over twenty years. Her practice remains on the cutting edge of advancements in Podiatric Medicine, providing state of the art laser treatments, three-dimensional technology to construct custom orthotics and braces, and in-house arterial and venous studies of the lower extremity. From pediatrics to mature adults, her staff provides superior care in a warm, welcoming environment.