by what to expect
Eat to Ease Pregnancy Swelling
You may not be seeing much of your feet lately, what with your ever-growing belly getting in the way. But when you do manage to sneak a peek (like when you put those aching dogs up on the coffee table at the end of a long day), it's very possible that you won't like what you see. That's because if you're like three-quarters of all pregnant women, your feet (along with your ankles) have probably become pretty puffy. While it's not particularly comfortable and definitely isn't attractive, this mild swelling (known as edema) is perfectly normal, a result of your body's increase in fluids at 35 weeks pregnant. Most mommies-to-be notice the not-so-swell swelling most (and notice their shoes are the tightest) in the evening, in warm weather, or after long periods of standing or sitting.
Wondering if cutting back on salt will help ease the puff? That
depends on how much salt you're eating in the first place. Doctors used
to recommend a low-sodium diet during pregnancy (which really made
satisfying those pickles-and-ice-cream cravings a lot tougher), but
thankfully no longer do. A moderate amount of salt (salting to taste at
the table, eating lightly salted foods) actually helps your body
regulate fluids — plus, dramatically cutting back on sodium isn't good
for the baby. But before you polish off that pickle jar (and whether or
not you were planning to dip the dills first in rocky road), keep in
mind that too much salt isn't healthy for anyone (pregnant or not) —
and it can even pump up the puffing. The bottom line? Salt, but don't
oversalt (give yourself a one or two pickle per sitting limit, skip the
heavily salted snacks, get in the habit of tasting before sprinkling,
let it rain but not pour) — and try these tactics to relieve swelling:
Put them up. If anyone deserves to put their feet up, it's you…so put them up every chance you get (while you're sitting at work, while you're watching TV, while you're checking e-mail). And what goes for putting your feet up goes double for lying down — getting horizontal whenever you can (on your left side, since that takes pressure off your blood vessels) should also help minimize swelling.
Have a splash. A water workout keeps you cool and combats edema, making it the perfect exercise for the pregnant set. Can't get to the pool? Any kind of exercise — even just getting up from your desk for a brisk walk to the watercooler — will help deflate those feet. So can taking a walk at the end of the day (maybe a before-dinner stroll with your sweetie).
Keep those fluids flowing. It may not sound logical (drinking more water to retain less water?) but it's true — the more fluids flowing into you, the more that will be flowing out of you (instead of accumulating around your ankles). Yes, this might mean you'll be going to the bathroom even more often than you already are — but think of all the waste products (and puff) you'll be flushing out with every toilet flush!
Get comfy. Have your eye on those cute strappy sandals? Well, they might be just the thing to complete that warm weather outfit — that is, until those straps practically cut off your circulation as they press into your puffy flesh. The best prescription for swollen feet and ankles isn't the most fashionable one: Sensible, comfortable shoes that breathe (and aren't too tight). Don't have any that fit that description (all of your shoes are too tight now)? That might be because your feet have spread so much that they've actually grown a half size or so (pregnant feet tend to do that). Get yourself to a shoe store — but do it at the end of the day, when your feet are at their puffiest. While you're at it, stop and get a pair of elasticized slippers — and wear them whenever you can get away with it. Those cute strappy sandals in your closet might have to wait. (Besides, sensible shoes can help keep you stable when you're feeling clumsy.)
Try a little support. So it's not sexy, but made-for-pregnancy support hose can make the difference between a swell day and a not so swell one. Put them on first thing in the morning, before your feet have a chance to puff up. If you can't track down ones made for pregnant women, knee- or thigh-highs should do the trick. But avoid any socks or knee- or thigh-highs that have uncomfortable elastic tops.