Toss your favorite designer shoes into the back of your closet, if you haven't already, because they're not going to fit again for quite some time. Higher hormone levels may cause you to retain water, making your feet swell.
To prevent discomfort, raise your legs above your heart for 20 minutes several times a day. This will encourage blood to flow back away from your feet toward your heart. You can also improve circulation by sitting with one leg raised, rotating your ankle a dozen times in each direction, then switching legs and doing the same thing on the other side. Rotate your ankles in this way at least 10 times at each sitting. Then try writing the alphabet, one letter at a time, with each foot.
Sleep on your left side to relieve pressure on the vena cava (the largest vein returning blood to your heart). Excessive weight gain will make foot pain worse, so monitor your pregnancy pounds. Remember to prop up your feet above the level of your heart when you are watching television and even during the night. To relieve extreme discomfort, ice your feet and ankles for 20 minutes every hour; this will reduce swelling. By late pregnancy you will probably need to buy larger shoes to support your widening feet. Avoid buying any shoes that lace, though, because they'll be tough to tie during your last weeks!
Severe heel pain can plague pregnant women and may be caused by fasciitis. Start by getting shoes with good heel support. A visit to a podiatrist may also be beneficial.
Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
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