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You heard about the infamous pregnancy waddle but no one warned you about the sloshing. If every movement feels like a tidal wave is crashing inside you, you may be experiencing water retention or edema.  During pregnancy, most water retention presents as puffy fingers, swollen feet and disappearing ankles. According to What To Expect, about three quarters of women (1 in 3) will experience swollen ankles or feet during their pregnancy.

THOSE DREADED CANKLES  CAN START AROUND WEEK 22 TO WEEK 27 AND WILL STAY WITH YOU UNTIL YOU HAVE GIVEN BIRTH.

There can be any number of triggers to bring on the swollen feet and ankles; for example hot weather, a long day on your feet or towards the evening. I remember during my first pregnancy I experienced swollen ankles and hands and it was generally towards the end of the day and after a hot day that I would begin to notice my ankles disappearing.

Edema (on it’s own) is not serious or anything to be concerned about as generally by morning the swelling should go down. However, if you are concerned and swelling persists make an appointment with your doctor to discuss symptoms and relief – see below.

Here are 7 things you can do to help with the discomfort of swollen ankles and feet:

  1. Do your best to avoid long periods of on your feet standing and sitting. If standing for a long period of time try to take a break and sit; if sitting too long take a few minutes to walk around and stretch your legs.
  2. Elevate your legs whenever possible while sitting at your office desk or lying down.
  3. When sleeping try to sleep on your side (preferable the left side).
  4. Wearing comfy and supportive shoes will help; time to set the sexy stilettos aside for a little while.
  5. Compression socks; these are what I used during my pregnancy and they helped me a lot. Now you can also get compression leggings and tights. I still wear mine when I know that I will be on my feet for a long period of time and especially when I will be flying. You can find compression socks at Shoppers Drug Mart and London Drugs.
  6. Limiting or watching your salt intake can also help with the swelling of ankles and feet. You do not need to completely cut out your salt so long as you are watching your intake and not overdoing it when adding salt to a meal.
  7. Drinking lots of water can also help by flushing your system out of toxins and also flushing out the salt.
Remember, Edema is only temporary during your pregnancy; after you have given birth the swelling will subside and go away. Use the swollen ankles as an excuse for you to sit down and put your feet up while your partner looks after you.

WHEN TO CONTACT YOUR DOCTOR

When edema is accompanied by other symptoms it can be a sign of underlying conditions. If you experience swelling in one leg more than the other, especially if it is accompanied by pain, it could signal a blood clot. A persistent headache, and vision changes (blurriness, light sensitivity) may be a sign of pre-eclampsia (pregnancy induced high blood pressure). Swelling accompanied by chest pain or breathing difficulties warrant a visit to your doctor or midwife. If you are ever concerned about your symptoms you can call Healthlink at 8-1-1 for 24/7 medical advice.
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