Most of the effects of pregnancy on a woman’s body are fairly pleasant, but some changes in the legs, ankles, and feet can be temporarily uncomfortable. The weight gain associated with pregnancy can add pressure, shift your center of gravity, and create new ways of standing and walking that lead to common problems.
Some women experience edema (swelling) during the later stages of pregnancy as a result of the extra blood accumulated and/or water retained by the body. The enlarged uterus, which puts pressure on the blood vessels in the pelvis and legs leading to decreased circulation in the lower body, is another cause of edema.
Dr. James M. McKee recommends the following steps to minimize edema as your due date approaches:
- Stay hydrated…drink plenty of water! Avoid sugary beverages and those containing caffeine, even after your baby arrives.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. Avoid highly processed foods and table salt, which contain a lot of sodium and promote fluid retention.
- Exercise regularly. Walk when you can, or try a prenatal yoga class.
- Take regular breaks to stretch your legs and promote circulation when flying or driving over long distances.
- Give yourself a break. Stretch often. Get off your feet as frequently as possible.
- Use a small stool to elevate your feet while sitting at a desk.
- Choose proper fitting footwear. Your feet will probably change size during your pregnancy. Have them professionally measured periodically.
- Wear seamless socks that do not restrict circulation.
Leg and Foot Cramps
Although generally harmless, muscle cramps are can be very painful, whether you’re pregnant or not. To prevent and stop cramps, gently pull your toes back toward your shins while extending your leg. Press through the heel. It’s extremely important to flex your toes while stretching, rather than pointing them; pointing can contract the muscle and intensify your cramp. After stretching, massage the spot with your fingers, or ask someone to do it for you. Stand and walk slowly for a few minutes to let the muscle relax.
The extra weight of pregnancy can lead to overpronation, a condition in which the arch flattens and the feet roll inward when walking. This atypical gait can stress the plantar fascia, a band of fibrous tissue that runs from the heel to the front of the foot. Walking may become painful. Custom orthotics, prescribed and created by a podiatrist, are the best treatment for the problem.
James M. McKee, DPM, FACFAS is experienced in treating the special needs of pregnant women. Call Podiatry Group of Annapolis, P.A. at 410-224-4448 or click here today to schedule a convenient appointment in our comfortable Annapolis, MD office. Dr. McKee will examine your feet, diagnose any current or potential issues, and work with you to keep you feeling great both before and after your baby is born.