Painful Feet and Legs During Pregnancy

What causes leg and foot pain? While morning illness, tiredness, and back pain are frequent complaints during pregnancy, leg and foot problems are simply as common, especially during the last trimester. Luckily, chances are these conditions will disappear after you provide. In the meantime, there are some things you can do to relieve discomfort.

Starting early in your pregnancy, alternate circulation-boosting exercise with the proper quantity of rest. This can avoid foot and leg problems from developing in the first place. However if those pains have currently started, here’s the scoop on what’s triggering them and what you can do about it.

Foot and Leg Swelling in Pregnancy

Raised hormone levels cause you to keep water during pregnancy, making you feel swollen and bloated. Your body needs this additional fluid so it can do the work of bring nutrients and oxygen to your baby, explains David S. Levine, MD, an orthopedist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

Although swelling is not a huge concern, consult your doctor if you notice swelling of your face and hands along with blurred vision, severe or continuous headaches, and weight gain of more than a pound a day. These can be signs of preeclampsia, a serious condition.

varicose veins

The illustration demonstrates how a varicose vein kinds in a leg. Figure A shows a regular vein with a working valve and typical blood flow. Figure B reveals a varicose vein with a deformed valve, unusual blood circulation, and thin, extended walls. The middle image shows where varicose veins might appear in a leg.

Typically, fluid retention is particularly pronounced in your feet, ankles, and calves due to the fact that your growing uterus puts pressure on the veins that carry blood back from your lower body. This partly obstructs blood flow, keeping fluid in your legs and feet.

Capillary are likewise tiniest in your foot and ankle, includes Dr. Levine, so your body has problem accommodating the additional fluid pouring in there.

Jane Anderson, a podiatrist at the Food and Ankle Center in Durham, North Carolina, provides some ideas for relief:

  • Elevate your feet as typically as you can. Attempt to raise your legs 6 to 12 inches above your heart for 15 to 20 minutes to assist the blood flow back to your heart and lungs.
  • Sleep on your side, not your back. This alleviates pressure on the vena cava, the largest vein resulting in the heart. Otherwise, the pressure slows the blood returning from your lower body.
  • Take in a great deal of fluids. Dehydration aggravates swelling.
  • Screen your weight. Women of regular weight must gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. Excessive weight gain intensifies swelling and can lead to other problems.
  • Enhance the flow in your ankles with rotation exercises. Try sitting, with one leg raised. Rotate your ankle 10 times to the right, then to the left. Switch legs. Repeat 10 times.
  • Ice your ankles. With your feet up, use ice to the within your ankles for 15 to 20 minutes every half hour to an hour.

Leg Cramps in Pregnancy

Some women cannot get away leg cramps (commonly called charley horses) during pregnancy. These painful contraction generally happen in the calf. It’s believed that leg cramps happen due to the fact that of a calcium shortage and excessive phosphorous (found in diet sodas and processed meats, so go easy on those foods), says Enid Leikin, MD, an ob-gyn at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, New York.

Cramps are common at night when legs and feet are tired. Dr. Leikin recommends eating more dairy products or asking your doctor about calcium supplements. Women who get leg cramps might likewise have a potassium shortage. Some expectant mothers report that snacking on potassium-rich bananas or dried apricots nips those cramps in the bud.

Besides dietary changes, you can avoid leg cramps by accelerating your blood circulation– take a 15- to 20-minute walk at night. Likewise avoid standing or sitting in one position for too long; both cause fluid to collect, making your legs feel heavy or full of pressure.

If you find yourself in the middle of a leg constrain, aim to ease the pain by resting your calf on a hot-water bottle or bending your foot to extend the calf. The best way to relieve the pain of a foot cramp is to walk it out. However if it’s the middle of the night and you do not feel like getting out of bed, try comprehending your foot with both hands and gently pushing your thumbs into the arch, pressing toward your toes.

Varicose Veins in Pregnancy

As if tired, aching legs aren’t enough, about 20 percent of women develop varicose veins– those awful, blue, swollen, ropelike veins– during pregnancy. Pregnant women have up to 40 percent more blood in their circulatory system and this extra blood increases the amount of pressure on the veins walls, triggering veins to stretch so much that their valves don’t close correctly. Defective valves permit blood to swimming pool in the veins, triggering them to end up being varicose. You’re more likely to obtain varicose veins if you gain too much weight, represent extended periods throughout the day, or if your mother had them (they’re genetic).

With varicose veins, numerous women suffer hurting in the legs, along with heaviness, tiredness, and pressure. Although these symptoms typically go away after pregnancy, they have the tendency to aggravate with each brand-new baby.

As with other leg problems, increasing blood circulation can help alleviate discomfort– and even avoid varicose veins in the first place. Ronald Dee, MD, a vein specialist in Stamford, Connecticut, suggests taking a walk every day or doing other low-impact exercises such as swimming or bicycling. If you can’t exercise, attempt being in a rocking chair numerous times a day; use your legs to carefully rock backward and forward to motivate better blood circulation.

The gentle pressure of stockings can alleviate achiness, too. Put them on prior to you get out of bed so blood does not have an opportunity to swimming pool at your ankles. Also ask your doctor about prescription-strength hose.¬†When you’ve had the baby, you might select laser therapy or surgery to eliminate the veins.

Swollen Feet

Besides the pains of pregnancy, all that swelling might inconvenience to squeeze your feet into your normal heels or boots. It’s not unusual for an expectant mother to go up a half to a full size in shoes, states Dr. Anderson. In addition to fluid retention, the hormone relaxin, released mostly during the third trimester to relax your pelvic ligaments for giving birth, flattens and extends foot ligaments.

In addition to requiring bigger shoes, your feet also require extra support and comfort. Since your center of gravity is constantly moving as you gain weight, you have to wear shoes that actually balance you, which suggests it’s best to avoid high heels. Select shoes with a broad-based one- to two-inch stacked heel. For an elegant or office shoe, attempt an Aerosoles design with a crepe sole for shock absorption. If you’re searching for a walking or athletic shoe, purchase a running tennis shoe, which also provides more shock absorption.

Health Tips

  • Shop late in the day. Feet have the tendency to swell as the day goes on.
  • Be sure shoes fit prior to you leave the shop. It’s a myth that you can “break them in.”
  • Select shoes with a square or round toe. Prevent pointy-toed shoes.
  • Purchase boots with space in the calf area, due to the fact that your calves might swell. Likewise select a boot with a side zipper– they’re simpler to get on and off than a pull-on style.
  • Replace worn heels often. Irregular heels can toss you off balance.


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