You’ve had fun signing up at the baby registries, taking prenatal classes and fixing up the nursery, but one thing you didn’t prepare for while expecting a baby was a bad case of cankles from your swollen feet! Thickening ankles can happen in anyone due to genetics, heart or kidney problems, hypertension, or diabetes; but in pregnancy, fluid retention is usually the culprit.
There are many reasons for fluid buildup in your feet and ankles during pregnancy. Your body naturally retains more fluid during this time. The swelling uterus can also put pressure on the major veins that bring the blood back up to your heart, so blood pools at the lowest spots—your hands and feet. Hot weather, a high-salt diet, and spending time on your feet aggravates this problem.
What can you do about it? First, get off your feet when you can. Wear shoes and socks that don’t cut off your circulation. Lie on the couch with your feet above heart level if possible. While working at a desk all day, do ankle rotations or bend your feet up and down to keep your blood flowing and reduce swelling. You can also try compression stockings. Eat healthy, low-salt foods whenever possible, and drink enough water.
Going for a walk, swimming a few laps, or even just standing in the pool can help as well. Activity increases blood flow, and deeper water acts like a compression stocking to keep fluid from pooling. Try to stay cool during the day, or put cold towels on your ankles to bring swelling down.
At night, sleep on your left side to keep pressure off the major vein that blood travels through back to the heart. You can also use pillows to raise your legs a little higher than your heart.
When should you get medical help? If the swelling doesn’t go back down following these remedies; if a dent remains in your skin when you press a finger on your ankle for 5 seconds; or if one leg is swelling larger than the other—which could mean a blood clot. Give Atlantic Foot & Ankle Associates a call at one of the numbers listed below. We want you to enjoy this time of expectation without uncomfortable, swollen feet.