This is the first of a three-part series regarding pregnancy and all things feet!
Pregnancy is no doubt one of the miracles of nature and is a cherished experienced for any mother-to-be! A woman’s body undergoes an amazing array of transformations to accommodate the new life developing within it! Pregnancy is a phase of life that engages the entire body and mind, resulting in a multitude of changes. Along with those changes, an abundance of precautions should be undertaken to ensure that during pregnancy and childbirth the mom and baby will both be healthy, comfortable and safe.
Every bodily system in a woman’s body experiences significant changes, and in regards to the foot, the 3 most noticeable changes due to pregnancy are swelling, overpronation and increased foot size!
Swelling (or edema) is a condition that a majority of women experience while childbearing. Edema usually occurs in the later stages of pregnancy and is caused by an accumulation of fluids in the lower extremity. The enlarging fetus and growing uterus put pressure on the blood vessels in the pelvis and legs. This causes a slowing in blood circulation and as a result the blood accumulates in the lower extremities. In addition, the fetus is also sitting on your lymphatic channels (vessels that drain fluid from all areas of the body) and putting pressure on them, leading to their narrowing. This constriction inhibits their ability to remove the lymphatic fluid which then keeps collecting in the area of your foot and ankle!
Edema is not EXTRA body fluid caused by pregnancy. The total amount of water in the body is exactly the same. Rather, the fluid has just has been shifted to another location due to the obstruction of both blood and lymphatic vessels. Edema will cause an enlargement of the affected body area and may cause that part to tinge purple.
There are various ways to reduce the discomfort of edema. Practice the avoidance of knee-high socks and of pantyhose/socks with elastic bands. Make sure to elevate your feet, take every opportunity to sit rather than stand, and obtain plenty of rest. Although it may sound counterintuitive, it is important to increase your water intake! The extra ingestion of fluid will assist in flushing your system of waste products which may also play a role in the swelling. Also, decrease the amount of salt in your diet since it is attributed to water retention in the body.
Swelling is normal in pregnancy, but if you see that its onset is abrupt and/or that it occurs in your hands simultaneously as they are indications of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is described as a pregnancy-related high blood pressure and is a dangerous condition!
Stay tuned to see how pregnancy can lead to other problems like overpronation and increased foot size. If you have any this or any other foot/ankle/lower-leg associated problems, call Beverly Hills Foot and Ankle, PA today at (352) 513-4867 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nisha Krishnan!
About the Author
Dr. Nisha Krishnan is the President of Beverly Hills Foot and Ankle, P.A. She specializes in Podiatric Medicine and Surgery and offers a full-range of foot, ankle and lower leg services.