Swelling, or its official name oedema is one of the culprits for your feet getting bigger, but not everyone has difficulties with swelling during pregnancy. I guess if you’re reading this, you do! If it’s any consolation, I had problems with swelling on only two of my four pregnancies!
It often starts round about 30weeks with you noticing that your socks leave a little imprint at the cuff when you take them off. Gradually you might notice that the calf muscles, ankles, feet and toes look a little puffy. Some people find this painless, but other people get a crampy, achy kind of feeling with swelling.
The swelling changes the shape of your feet a little, so that getting your feet into shoes that hug your feet or have quite a narrow or small opening becomes very difficult and uncomfortable to wear.
Never fear, the pool is here! Water has hydrostatic pressure as one of its properties. This means that water molecules like to stay together, and actively squeeze a little to stay together, squeezing you a little bit too! Its why the surface tension of the water actually feels like silk when you dip your hand in or gently play the piano on the surface……try it in your washbowl or bath tonight!
The hydrostatic pressure/squeeze gets more, the deeper in water you go. This pressure squeezes any swelling back into your circulatory system where it has a chance to get to your kidneys and ultimately get out! The hydrostatic pressure squeezes more blood from your limbs back into the bodys core, so more blood is passing through your organs when submerged up to your neck. Research into these effects is called HOWI (Head Out Water Immersion). Your kidneys process 7 times more through their system when you’re upright in water. That’s the reason why I always advise having extra to drink on swimming nights. You tend to ‘lose’ about 300mls of fluid (that’s a soft drinks can full) for every hour you’re upright in the pool. If lots of this is fluid from swelling, yippee!! Getting into the pool as often as you can, getting as deep as you can, floating on a woggle, not moving round too much is the best way to manage swelling with the water.
Wearing flight socks can help control the swelling when upright during the day. Elevating your legs in the evening or at night can also help. Just watch your positioning for this, flomped on the couch with legs up in front isn’t a great position for you or your baby, sidelying is a better choice.
Swelling is one of the signs of pre-eclampsia, so, always have your other tests like blood pressure and urine tests checked regularly too. If in doubt, talk to your GP or your Mat Hospital.