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Article: How To Relieve Swollen Ankles In Pregnancy


How To Relieve Swollen Ankles In Pregnancy

swollen ankles pregnancy

Many suffer in silence, but often the swelling that can go with pregnancy is truly uncomfortable, especially in hot weather.  So why does it happen and can we do anything to prevent or reverse it?  Let me explain. 

First up, it’s very normal to experience some swelling during pregnancy, particularly in your legs, ankles, feet and fingers.  It’s often worse at the end of the day and as you get further into pregnancy, but it’s not usually harmful to you or your baby.   

It happens because your body is holding more water than usual.  And through the day, as extra water tends to gather in the lower parts of the body, it collects in the tissues to cause the puffiness so many are familiar with.  The pressure of your growing womb can also affect the blood flow in your legs, causing pooling, and the changes experienced by pregnant women favour the formation of mild edema.  And while it doesn’t look or feel great, this is not lymphedema, just system overload. 

Quite simply, what this means is that while the lymphatic vessels in the tissues of your legs attempt to drain away excess tissue fluid, the volume is often too great for this to be efficient.  And as the gravid uterus expands, the lymphatic vessels in the pelvis and abdomen also become compressed, restricting the flow of lymph away from your legs. 

It's the perfect storm.  And reversing or preventing it comes down to good lymph management.  If you are prone, these pointers will help: 

  • Manual lymphatic drainage.  This form of management safely helps to reduce limb size and swelling for pregnant women.  It’s a very gentle form of massage – light strokes over the body to boost the lymph, which runs underneath the surface of the skin – along, taking with it excess fluid to be filtered by lymph nodes and metabolised. 
  • Avoid standing or sitting for long periods.  The lymph, which is in charge of draining away excess fluid, only moves when you move.  So try to keep yourself as active as possible, getting up regularly from your desk or chair to walk around a room or up and down the stairs. 
  • Wear comfortable socks and shoes.  Many women find support socks and tights, which provide some compression, to be helpful.  But the main thing to remember here is to avoid tight straps or anything that might pinch if your feet swell. 
  • Put your feet up!  As often as possible – and I mean above your heart.  So lie flat on your bed, the sofa or floor and rest your feet at right angles against the wall.  My hero cream, Air-Lite, was made for these moments: apply it to your legs (straight from the Fridge if it’s warm)  from ankles to thighs, then put your feet up and allow all the fluids to drain back up from lower legs.  Give it no less than 15 minutes! 
  • Drink plenty of water.  It goes without saying to keep you hydrated, but water also dilutes your lymph helping it to transport waste away. 


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