After laughing uproariously at Kim Kardashian’s cankles a couple of weeks ago (and those perspex heels: why?), my rather mean schadenfreude has been well and truly squashed by the recent development of my own tootsies swelling up. I first noticed it last week: in the morning, as normal; by the evening, when I was getting ready to have a bath, they were huge! And have remained so ever since. Ironically, they look like very overgrown baby feet – all pudgy and creased around the toes and ankles. I’ve always been fond of my size 5s but now they are unrecognisable as my feet!
The condition of swollen feet and/or ankles, also known as “oedema”, is very common in pregnancy. Babycentre suggests that “between 50 per cent and 80 per cent of healthy pregnant women have swelling of some kind, and hot weather can make it worse.” This makes sense in my case, as the appearance of my cankles coincided exactly with the onset of a particularly warm and sunny week. Mumsnet notes that swollen feet are usually more “aesthetically challenging” than anything more serious, and both websites offer plenty of advice for how to reduce the swelling, including:
- Don’t force your feet into your pre-pregnancy shoes (such as questionable perspex ones) if they’re feeling too tight.
- When you get a chance to sit down, try to raise your feet on cushions or pillows.
- Don’t sit with your feet or legs crossed.
- Rotate your feet clockwise and anti-clockwise regularly.
- Exercise – swimming and walking will both help.
- Avoid salty foods and make sure you drink plenty of fluids.
- Try not to stand for long periods of time.
- Put support tights on before you get out of bed in the morning, so blood has no chance to pool around your ankles.
- If your skin isn’t too tight and painful, ask someone to massage your ankles and feet.
I’ve also been using Sanctuary cooling leg and foot gel – it hasn’t had much effect yet, but feels soothing!
The only time swelling becomes a concern is if it is a sign of a serious condition called pre-eclampsia (don’t worry, Downton Abbey fans: Sybil had eclampsia. Nowadays in the western world this often fatal condition is usually diagnosed and monitored early enough that the mother and baby are ok – hence the “pre”. It is normally spotted earlier on in pregnancy via the urine and blood pressure tests). If your face, hands or feet swell up suddenly and are accompanied by any of the following symptoms, the NHS advises contacting your midwife immediately:
- severe headache
- problems with vision, such as blurring or flashing before the eyes
- severe pain just below the ribs
As for my own situation, as ever I am trying to focus on the positive: in this case, the relative lack of swelling in my hands. They look like they have puffed up a bit but I can still get my rings on and off, and the plumper look actually isn’t too bad as it makes them look smoother and less veiny.
At least I can barely see my feet at the moment…