This pregnancy is taking a toll on my body and one of the most uncomfortable things I’m feeling right now is my swollen feet. It’s swollen when I go to sleep and swollen when I wake in the morning. Should I be concerned? Is there anything I can do to ease the swelling?
Most swollen feet, puffy legs, pedal oedema or water retention starts sometime in the third trimester. The more sedentary and desk-bound the mummy is, the more severe water retention can be. Mummies who need to stand for long hours, like teachers, may also suffer this.
Elevation will help. Methods include adding a box below the desk to rest the legs, putting legs on the sofa or ottoman when resting or watching tv, and sleeping with an extra pillow below the legs.
Movements prevent stasis of blood flow. It is useful to exercise the ankles and calves while sitting in the office. Active walking on the spot or pacing also allows calf muscles to help squeeze blood back towards the heart and avoid stasis and pooling. Sitting and standing still will worsen the pooling of blood in the legs causing fluids to seep out into the tissues resulting in water retention.
Water retention often gets temporary relief with antenatal massages.
It is a common misconception that if there is water retention, one should drink less water! Being dehydrated will slow down circulation and increase stasis thereby worsening water retention. A healthy intake will push blood forward and improve circulation.
Innocuous water retention is usually bilateral unless one always sit with legs crossed and always on the same side, which is unlikely in pregnancy! With sufficient hours elevated through the night, puffiness should also be significantly reduced in the morning.
When there is sudden and severe oedema that does not seem to be relieved by any means, one has to be wary of more serious conditions like pre-eclampsia. It would be wise to see the gynaecologist to check for this blood pressure complication.
Sometimes, sudden swelling can also occur unilaterally and this is accompanied by blotchiness of skin and is warm to the touch. This can be a serious condition called deep vein thrombosis. Urgent medical attention is necessary.
Question answered by:
Dr Chua Yang
A Clinic For Women
Mt Alvernia Medical Centre