Recently, I, Danielle Scambary from The Good Shoe Shop was invited as a guest on Lenny Rose Active’s weekly Wednesday IGTV. I’m a podiatrist at the Good Shoe Shop, and I’m so excited to share my experience and knowledge on a common experience for pregnant women – swollen and aching feet!!
Why Do Pregnant Women Get Swollen Feet?
You’ve probably heard about the common experience of swollen feet during pregnancy, and might be a little confused about it. “Swollen feet? Isn’t my body going through enough already? Can’t I even wear my favourite cute shoes to work anymore?!”.
The good news is that this is a totally normal experience for pregnant women, and is just a part of the many changes your body will go through as it does the amazing work of creating and housing your bub. But, why does it happen?
Simply put, it’s your body’s response to the extra strain and weight on your legs and feet during pregnancy. Carrying all the extra weight in your abdominal area bears downwards and compresses the blood vessels in your body.
These blood vessels would normally be working to pump fluid back to the heart, working against gravity to push fluids back up to the centre of the body, but with the extra strain and compression of the vessels from pregnancy, it’s harder for them to do this. The result is the gathering of fluid in areas where it’s now harder to dispense, like the legs and feet, which appears as swelling.
The proper name of this swelling is ‘Oedema’, and it can happen in the hands, face, legs, ankles and feet. According to Pregnancy Birth and Baby, around 75% of women experience Oedema during their pregnancy – starting between the 22nd and 27th week – making it a pretty common experience for mums-to-be.
What Type Of Shoes Are Perfect For Pregnancy?
Aside from the discomfort of Oedema there are some more practical challenges that it brings – namely when it comes to footwear! Your normal shoe collection might not fit you anymore, and there are a few things that need to be considered when buying footwear during pregnancy.
First of all, leave your stilettos at home! Don’t wear any heels or wedges that are more than 3cm high as it’s bound to be uncomfortable, and any dressy shoes you wear should have a back strap for support.
Pick shoes that are firm, supportive, and easy to put on, and make sure you size up to leave room for any swelling in your ankles and feet. You might need to go up a half or even a full shoe size – so just wear an extra pair of socks with them until you fill them out!
You might want to start by checking out best shoe brands like The Good Shoe Shop which have a wide range of comfortable, functional podiatrist-designed shoes with enough support.
Tips To Reduce Swelling Of Feet During Pregnancy
1. Invest In Good Quality Shoes
There are a fair few “pregnancy-suitable” shoes on the market – however, these can often have the downside of being uncomfortable and hard to get on. I highly recommend pregnant women to look for footwear made in Europe as the European foot shape tends to accommodate a wider foot shape.
Our tip is to get shoes with medical grade suitable for pregnant women. Wearing appropriate shoes have some big benefits: the support aids circulation and provides support, working wonders to reduce swelling and cramping. Not only that, they can also help to reduce the occurrence and severity of varicose veins.
2. Avoid Long Periods of Standing & Sitting
Reduce the strain on your legs, feet and ankles by giving them the rest that they need. Try to avoid being on your feet for long periods of time, and give yourself plenty of breaks to take the weight off. You should also avoid sitting in one position for too long – make sure you get the chance to really put your feet up.
Standing still can cause blood to pool in the lower half of your legs, which is called “venous stasis”. Since it is difficult to circulate blood back to your heart, you may then feel faint or dizzy. So, try walking around more frequently or alternate between sitting and standing and avoid standing still for prolonged periods of time.
3. Drink Enough Water
Staying well-hydrated is already important when you’re pregnant for a number of reasons. Drinking lots of water also has the benefit of improving blood circulation, keeping blood pressure healthy, and helping you to avoid swelling and cramping. This is key to managing the water retention that you will be experiencing during pregnancy.
4. Elevate Your Legs
Elevating your legs throughout the day is a great way to relieve swelling and discomfort.Like most of our tips, it all comes down to reducing strain and promoting circulation! Sit or lie comfortably and elevate your feet higher than your heart. Try to do it several times a day, for a total of around 15-20 minutes a day.
5. Stay Active With Low-Impact Exercises
Staying active throughout your pregnancy is a great way to keep healthy, aid circulation, and minimise swelling and cramping. You won’t be able to train at the same intensity as before you were pregnant, but there are plenty of low-impact, less intense exercises out there which are perfect for expecting mums. As a starting point, check out Lenny Rose’s list of prenatal exercises!
6. Wear Leggings With Compression
Compression leggings, socks and shorts – like these Lenny Rose ‘In the Zone’ compression leggings – promotes circulation in a way that regular clothing doesn’t, and the supportive construction of compression leggings can reduce cramping and swelling in the legs and ankles.
7. Soak Feet In Epsom Salt
This one can double as a practical tip and as a good chance to relax! Make yourself a warm foot-bath with some epsom salts, and give your feet a soak. Epsom salts have a heap of beneficial properties, including helping to reduce swelling. You can buy epsom salts from most health stores and bath supplies shops.
8. Swimming As Exercise
A lot of expecting mums love swimming while pregnant, as it gives you the chance to take a break from feeling the weight of your baby bump! It’s also a good way to give your legs and feet a rest from the extra weight bearing down on them.
Swimming also provides gentle pressure to assist with blood flow return, and activates the “calf muscle pump’ – which is vital for getting blood flowing and circulating from your legs and feet back to your heart.
9. Don’t Wear Heels
We already mentioned this one, but we’ll say it again: do not wear high heels when you’re pregnant! A small heel is fine occasionally, but the more comfortable your shoes are, the less strain you’ll be putting on your feet. Put your heels on hiatus while you’re pregnant, and you can prevent extra aggravation for your feet and pain in your lower back during pregnancy.
So there you have it – our top tips for reducing one of the less-than-ideal side effects of being pregnant! As always, Lenny Rose is dedicated to educating mamas on how they can stay happy, healthy and active all the way through pregnancy. Explore our Resource Center for helpful pregnancy & motherhood information and first-hand tips.