Among other changes during pregnancy, swollen feet are most common. Read this article to find out how to use hot or cold water for swollen feet during pregnancy.
Swollen feet’ symptoms and causes during pregnancy
Developing swollen feet is one of the myriad health conditions affecting a pregnant woman. The body retains more water, produces more blood and body fluids, and blood volume increases by about 50% during this time. The growing baby causes your heavy uterus to pressure the pelvic veins to go down to your feet. Hence, blood from your feet is unable to flow up from your legs towards your heart effectively. Hormones make your veins relax, and they are unable to effectively go against gravity and move blood back towards the heart. When excess fluid is trapped in your body tissue, it causes swelling in the feet, ankles, and legs. It usually appears around the 5th month of pregnancy and lasts till delivery.
Feet tend to swell more during evening time as you remain on your feet through the day. Symptoms include shiny skin, skin retaining a pressure mark even after you press and release a certain area of the skin and there can be difficulty in walking.
Ways to prevent/alleviate swollen feet:-
1. Walk and Weather Conditions
Avoid extended periods of standing and move more. Go for walks to improve blood circulation. Stay in air conditioning during hot weather and avoid excess sweating.
2. Comfortable Clothing and Massage
Wear flat, comfortable footwear and avoid heels. Ask a family member to massage your feet gently. Massage helps to stimulate blood circulation and will also help drain the fluids in your feet.
3. Sleep on Left Side
Sleeping on your left side will help take your uterus’ weight off the major blood vessels, which bring back blood to your heart.
4. Water Pressure
Standing or swimming in a pool of water helps cool your body and reduce swelling. The water pressure helps push the excess fluids back into your veins and on to the kidneys to be expelled as urine.
5. Food Habits
Reduce sugar and increase protein in your diet to decrease fluid retention. Reduce sodium intake as salt causes your body to retain water. Avoid eating processed and canned food as they contain extra salt. Increase potassium intake as potassium helps your body to maintain fluid balance. Sweet potatoes, spinach, yogurt, bananas, and lentils are some of the commonly available potassium dietary sources.
6. Reduce Caffeine
Reduce caffeine, which acts as a diuretic. When you urinate more often, your body tends to hold on to more fluid. Hence, limit coffee consumption and drink more water.
Here, the explanation is that if you are dehydrated, your body holds on to fluids to compensate. Elevate your feet to drain the fluids collecting in them. Wear compression stockings that come up right to your waist to keep the pressure on your feet and legs and aid circulation. Wear loose, comfortable clothing, especially avoid legwear that is tight around the ankles so that you don’t restrict blood circulation.
Hot or Cold Water for Swollen Feet During Pregnancy
Both hot and cold water have their benefits when treating swollen feet. Soaking your feet in warm water with half tablespoon Epsom salt or a few drops of essential oil like peppermint will help your blood vessels dilate and help more blood flow. Soak your feet for 3 to 5 minutes, and then put your feet into a cold water bath for 1 minute. The cold water will cause the blood vessels to contract, pushing the blood upwards and improving circulation. This helps reduce swelling and the pain associated with it.
When to see your doctor
If swelling is sudden, painful, severe, accompanied by fever, shortness of breath, chest pain, or pressure, and if it does not reduce in the mornings after resting overnight, you should consult your doctor.
Sudden swelling in your feet, face, and hands is a serious condition where you may have developed high blood pressure and protein in the urine. It may be accompanied by increasing swelling, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, blurred vision, confusion, and abdominal pain.
Consult your doctor immediately as it qualifies as a medical emergency. Swelling in one leg alone, accompanied by pain, hot skin, and redness, could mean a blood clot has developed in your leg vein, known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT. It requires urgent medical attention.