When you are pregnant, especially in the late stage, you are at high risk of swelling feet and ankles. Also, your fingers may experience significant swelling to the point that if you wear rings, they feel unusually tight. Working with your gynecologist Silver Spring can make your journey to parenthood bearable by managing swollen legs and other complications. There are various reasons you are highly likely to have swollen legs during the late stages of your pregnancy.
Causes of swollen legs during pregnancy
The womb has large blood vessels to ensure the fetus is adequately supplied with blood and nutrients. The presence of more blood in enlarged blood vessels may make your legs appear swollen.
Moreover, your legs may swell because the growing fetus forces your womb to slightly press and constrict veins that transport blood from the legs to the heart.
As a result, strained veins below your uterus allow slow passage of fluids and blood, causing swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet. The retention of fluids in body tissues that cause inflammation is medically referred to as edema.
You may also have swollen legs because a reproductive hormone called relaxin, which comes from the ovaries and placenta, makes the ligaments in your feet less firm. During pregnancy, the relaxin hormone is responsible for loosening and relaxing muscles, ligaments, and joints to stretch your body and prepare for delivery.
Leg swelling due to other conditions
Leg swelling during pregnancy may also result from health conditions, such as deep vein thrombosis, cellulitis, pre-eclampsia, and heart muscle weakness.
Swelling due to previous injuries
Remember, smoking, an inherited clotting disorder, or previous injury in the legs affecting your veins may also put you at risk of swollen legs.
Relief options for swollen legs during pregnancy
Your health provider may recommend wearing compression stockings or socks if you have swollen legs due to pregnancy. Compression socks moderately massage your legs and thus help distribute pressure throughout your affected leg.
Use of compression stockings
Since there is less pressure in your legs, blood vessels can function optimally to avoid the slow passage of blood. Wearing compression stockings may also protect you against varicose veins, which often affect more than 25% of pregnant women in the country, according to a clinical study published by the National Library of Medicine.
Ensure the compression stockings or socks do not tightly squeeze your legs and impede blood flow to encourage swelling.
Sleeping on your left
Sleep on your left side to avoid exerting pressure on and straining the inferior vena cava (IVC). This large blood vessel conveys oxygen-low blood from your lower extremities and abdominal region to the heart.
Studies show that if you sleep on your right side, you are at risk of delayed fetal growth, stillbirth, and low birth weight. Moreover, always keep your legs elevated than your heart as you read, watch a movie, or engage in other activities that require you to remain seated.
Other lifestyle options
It may also be good for your health if you wear loose clothes, limit your intake of sodium and caffeine, and perform low-impact activities.
Schedule your consultation with your doctor at Capital Women’s Care to get to the bottom of swollen legs during pregnancy.