Pregnancy causes a variety of physiological changes within the body, some of which can lead to foot pain. Around the beginning of the second trimester, many soon-to-be moms experience this condition. Their feet begin to swell, making the otherwise normal task of walking painfully difficult. Thankfully, there are ways to relieve foot pain and maintain mobility during pregnancy.
What Causes Foot Pain During Pregnancy
Pregnancy-related foot pain is usually caused by one of two factors: weight gain or fluid retention. It’s not uncommon for healthy-weight women to gain up to 35 pounds during pregnancy. This additional weight can stress the feet, causing inflammation and associated pain. Furthermore, the added weight of pregnancy pushes down on the natural arch of a woman’s foot, essentially flattening it out – a condition known as over-pronation.
Another factor that contributes to pregnancy-related foot pain is fluid retention. According to The Bump, three-quarters of women experience fluid retention during pregnancy. It’s a completely normal change that actually helps the baby develop. The downside is that fluid often collects in the feet, ankle and legs, causing pain in these areas.
Use a Cold Compress
Women can relieve foot pain during pregnancy by applying a cold compress to their feet. While a hot compress may offer some initial relief, it can actually worsen foot pain by encouraging blood flow to the feet. A cold compress has the opposite effect by discouraging blood flow to the feet and, subsequently, reducing pain and inflammation.
Reduce Sodium Intake
Another tip to relieve pregnancy-related foot pain is to reduce sodium intake. Sodium is an essential mineral that regulates fluid levels in the body. When consumed in excess, however, it encourages fluid retention and contributes to edema. Therefore, most health professionals recommend a daily limit of 2,400 mg of sodium per day for adults – a guideline that pregnant women should follow as well.
Get a Foot Massage
Getting a foot massage can also relieve foot pain during pregnancy. Massage has been used for centuries to relieve pain. And even today, it remains a popular alternative to traditional pain-relieving medications. A gentle massage will instantly relieve pain while also working out muscle cramps and knots.
Elevate Legs at Night
Finally, pregnant women should consider elevating their feet at night. Propping up their feet on a pillow, for example, discourages fluid from accumulating in the feet. The only downside is that it’s difficult for side-sleepers to prop up their feet comfortably.