Swollen legs during pregnancy are one of the typical unpleasant parts of it.
But thinking of the little toes and eyes of the lovely baby you are waiting for is worth it and can help you overcome any fatigue.
Why swollen legs happen during pregnancy?
Your growing womb can interrupt normal blood flow causing more fluids to build up in your legs’ veins.
These extra liquids flow into the nearby tissues leading to their swelling.
Pregnancy hormones also can make your body hold fluids and look puffy, especially your legs, ankles, feet, hands, and face, this is called edema.
Other factors that might cause swollen legs during pregnancy such as hot weather, excess caffeine intake, not drinking enough water, standing for long periods, and dietary imbalance.
When swollen legs during pregnancy are noticed?
In the first trimester
Within the first 3 months of pregnancy, you might notice a bit of puffiness in your feet, face, or hands but not too much.
This happens due to the rapid increase in progesterone (pregnancy hormone).
In the second trimester
It begins in week 14 by the start of the fourth month of pregnancy.
Swelling might happen in this period if you are on your feet a lot or the weather is hot besides the hormonal fluid retention.
As your blood volume increases by about 50% during pregnancy.
In the third trimester
It starts by week 28 (the seventh month of pregnancy).
This is the most common time to experience swollen legs.
Your uterus is getting much bigger as your baby grows, that can slow blood flow from the legs back to the heart.
It’s uncomfortable but also not dangerous except in certain cases we will mention later.
Home remedies to relieve swollen legs during pregnancy:
As swollen legs during pregnancy can be bothersome, these simple strategies can help you ease your symptoms.
Drink enough water
It might seem strange that you should drink more water to get rid of extra fluids built up in your body but yes.
You should do this as if your body thinks you're dehydrated, it’ll hold on more fluids onto your tissues to compensate.
So drink at least 10 glasses of water daily to keep your body hydrated.
You can add some flavors to your water such as mint, lemon, or berries, and enjoy.
Reduce your intake of sodium
Sodium which is known as (table salt) causes extra water retention in your body tissues.
Try to reduce salt in your food, you can use savory herbs such as thyme and rosemary instead of salt to add flavor to your recipes.
Also, avoid canned and processed foods because of their high sodium content.
Increase your intake of potassium
Swollen legs during pregnancy can get worse if you’re not getting enough potassium as it helps your body balance the amount of fluids it holds on.
You should have extra potassium within your prenatal vitamins. It is also important to eat good sources of dietary potassium.
Some foods are naturally rich in potassium such as bananas, beans, potatoes and sweet potatoes with the skin on, spinach, yogurt, salmon, lentils, and some fruits like prune, orange, and pomegranate.
Rest and elevate your feet
Sitting all the time is not good for your circulation but standing all the time harms your beautiful pregnant body too.
So, to avoid swollen legs during pregnancy, get your feet elevated for a little while especially at the end of the day.
To help drain the fluids pooled in your legs throughout the day.
Multiple walks throughout the day:
Can improve your circulation and help reduce swelling. It’s a good pregnancy-safe exercise, especialy in the critical age for pregnancy.
Swimming or standing in a pool with a water depth not exceeding your neck is very vital.
You’ll feel lighter and cooler after spending some time in the pool.
With the help of your partner can soothe your feet, move the fluids away from them, and ease your pain.
This is also great for relieving the stress and cramps accompanying pregnancy.
A simple yoga pose:
This can help ease your pain due to swollen legs during pregnancy as you lie on your back, then raise your legs against the wall.
So easy flow back of blood from the lower body through veins to the heart without pressure of your enlarged uterus on them.
Reduce your caffeine intake
Consuming too much caffeine can make swelling worse, also it’s not considered great for your baby.
Caffeine is a diuretic that makes you pee more giving your body an alert to hold on to fluids leading to swollen legs during pregnancy.
Taking caffeine during pregnancy within limits isn’t harmful but it’s better to get a decaf coffee with milk or a herbal tea like pippermint.
During hot summer months, try to stay indoors, especially during the daytime.
Wear cool clothes, keep a fan nearby, and you can put cold compresses on your feet to keep them cool and reduce swelling.
Sleep on your left side
This can reduce the uterus pressure on the inferior vena cava which is the blood vessel through which the blood returns to the heart.
This can improve blood flow and decrease swelling.
Wear comfortable shoes
Wearing well-fitting shoes is the key to reducing the pain caused by swollen legs during pregnancy.
As pregnancy might increase your foot size, it’s time for shoe shopping and getting new lovely shoes.
Use compression socks
Start with the ones of light compression and put them only when you’re awake.
These can improve blood circulation and reduce the building up of fluids in your legs to overcome the problem of swollen legs during pregnancy.
When to contact your doctor?
Swelling of your legs during pregnancy is a common sign as your body is struggling to grow a new lovely little life!
However, some swelling cases can be serious and need medical help, so contact your birthing professional if you notice one or more of these signs:
1. Sudden swelling of your face, hands, legs, or around your eyes.
2. Dizziness or confusion.
3. Blurred vision which may be also a sign of diabetes during pregnancy.
4. Severe headache.
5. Difficult breathing.
6. Abdominal pain, especially in the upper right section of the abdomen.
The above signs can be indicators of a concern called preeclampsia which is a serious condition that leads to dangerous high blood pressure.
If the swelling is in just one leg and accompanied by redness, heat, and pain.
This means you are in danger of having a blood clot in your leg which is scientifically called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms, don’t hesitate to call your doctor to help keep you and your baby safe and healthy!
During pregnancy, you should know about swollen legs which might happen.
Why and when this sign might be noticed, some simple home remedies that can help relieve it.
And when you need to ask for medical help.