‘Swollen feet during pregnancy’ is a common side-effect of pregnancy, indicating a condition called ‘Edema’ (or ‘Oedema’) which results from an increase in blood volume as well as bodily fluids. The condition, when it occurs in moderation, is considered to be a normal reaction to the inflammation caused by pregnancy.
Edema can affect any individual at any time due to different reasons, but it is a fairly common condition that affects pregnant women.
Edema or swollen feet during pregnancy is an indication of excess fluid collection in the tissues of the body. This excess fluid meets the requirements of the growing uterus, but the retention of fluid in the feet or other extremities of the body is typically a consequence of the extra strain which pregnancy puts on the heart for ensuring proper blood circulation throughout the body.
Since the growing uterus puts pressure on a woman’s ‘inferior vena cava’ the vein which carries blood from the legs and the lower body part to the heart to be oxygenated during pregnancy, it can affect the blood circulation to the lower parts of the body. Improper blood circulation leads to ‘edema’ or fluid retention, which causes swelling in the legs and feet during pregnancy.
However, slight to moderate edema, or the normal condition of swollen feet during pregnancy, can be effectively managed with the help of some time-tested home remedies. These simple remedies can easily be tried by pregnant women from the convenience of their homes.
Some of the most beneficial home remedies for swollen feet during pregnancy are:
1. Maintain adequate water intake
It is very essential for pregnant women to stay well hydrated, by ensuring sufficient intake of water. This simple remedy basically facilitates the elimination of toxins from the body, and reduces water retention by excreting the excess fluid in the body.
2. Soak the feet in lukewarm salt water
This is probably the most common home remedy for swollen feet during pregnancy because it can effectively pull out the excess fluids which get collected in the tissues. For this remedy, water should be boiled with some salt added to it, for making it taste like sea water. Put the water in a tub, and allow it to cool slightly. When the water is lukewarm, immerse the feet in it for a few minutes, till the water becomes cold.
3. Reduce Caffeine intake
The intake of caffeine is not recommended during pregnancy because it can aggravate the ‘water-retention’ condition. So, pregnant women who are fond of caffeine should try to down its intake in order control the swelling in their legs and feet during the pregnancy period.
4. Keep feet elevated
Keeping the feet elevated through the day is very helpful in maintaining a proper blood circulation during pregnancy. The elevated-feet position is also helpful in preventing the accumulation of fluids in the feet.
5. Oil Massage
Massaging swollen feet is also an excellent home remedy edema during pregnancy because oil massage can enable smooth circulation of blood in the body and remove the excess fluids from the tissues. Oil massage can also relieve pain and soreness in muscles and joints. The most beneficial anti-inflammatory oils for massage are: eucalyptus oil, arnica oil, peppermint oil, lemon oil, and lavender oil.
6. Do light exercises
Doing light exercises and performing simple Yoga asanas is advised during pregnancy in order to maintain proper circulation of blood in the body and to prevent the retention of fluids in feet and legs. While doing exercises, pregnant women should ensure that the exercises are not too intensive or rigorous.
7. Eat potassium-rich foods
The intake of foods which have abundant amounts of potassium is also a very beneficial home remedy for treating swollen feet during pregnancy. High potassium content in foods can treat water retention by removing sodium from the body. Some of the easily-available foods which are rich in potassium include bananas, figs, kiwi, papaya, potatoes, lettuce, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and cabbage.
8. Sleep on the left side
It is advisable to always sleep on the body’s left side, especially during pregnancy. The left-side sleeping position improves the circulation of blood by elevating the pressure from the ‘inferior vena cava’ vein.
9. Use Coriander Seeds
Coriander seeds are considered to be an amazing water-retention remedy since olden times. To benefit from the use of coriander seeds to treat swollen feet during pregnancy, the seeds should be soaked in water overnight. The water with soaked seeds should be boiled the next day, strained, and consumed several times during the day.
10 . Use Cabbage leaves and Cucumber on feet
For elimination of excess fluids from the body, pregnant women should cover their feet with a few Cabbage leaves for some time during the day. Alternatively, they can also place some slices of cool Cucumber on their feet to remain hydrated and to facilitate the removal of toxins and excess water from the body.
11. Increase the intake of certain fruits
The intake of certain fruits like Apples, Oranges and Watermelon can also be helpful in relieving the condition of water retention during pregnancy because these fruits are diuretic in nature. Apples ensure the proper functioning of the kidneys and help in the efficient elimination of excess fluids from the body, Orange is a very beneficial citrus fruit which are helpful in balancing the electrolytes in the body, and the water content in Watermelon keeps the body properly hydrated and eases the swelling in the feet.
Conclusion: Along with the above discussed home remedies for swollen feet during pregnancy, it is also important for pregnant women to remember the following things to reduce swelling in the feet and legs:
- Minimize the intake of salt (sodium)
- Do not stand for long periods
- Do not go out in the heat
- Wear comfortable shoes, avoiding wearing high heels
- Avoid wearing clothes which are tight around the feet or wrists
- Use cold compresses on swollen areas.
Finally, it is important to remember that some amount of edema or swelling in feet due to fluid retention — is quite normal during pregnancy, but excessive edema can potentially be an indication of certain complications, particularly a condition called ‘pre-eclampsia.’ Hence, in case of excessive edema in feet/hands, or a swollen face and puffy eyes, it is advisable to consult a doctor immediately.