Today we discuss swelling in the feet and ankles during pregnancy with Amy Riedel from @Balancedbumps. Amy is a Chiropractor and mother herself who has a special interest in managing women during pre and post pregnancy.
What was your inspiration for Balancedbumps?
Balanced Bumps came about when we saw a desperate need to bring diverse health care options together so that pregnant women could benefit from our care and learn what is happening to her body and her baby. We wanted to show why there is often pain and discomfort in pregnancy and birth, and what can be done to make the whole process more enjoyable. We also teach about the mechanics and function of the pre- and post-partum body, aiming for a smooth labour and birth. We discuss and use our skills to encourage the optimal foetal positions in utero, helping to ensure a happy mother and child.
In giving women access to resources they may not have known about we create a network of information that is shared and spreads throughout the community. For example, we offer access to pre-natal and post-partum counselling, recommended birth classes, tips on how to move exercise and importantly, to rest to prevent pain and dysfunction during the pregnancy and after bub is born.
Why do women experience swelling during pregnancy?
A pregnant woman’s blood volume is almost doubled during a pregnancy. That’s a lot more fluid in the body to circulate. As a result the kidneys will work extra hard and the growing child can inhibit the efficient action of the respiratory diaphragm just by pressing up against that muscle. So while the heart working hard, still manages to push blood at high pressure of above 100 mmHg around the body through the arteries, the venous blood and lymphatic fluid can only return to the heart and lungs at a much lower pressure. So the suction caused by taking a breath (that is, using the diaphragm), the contraction of large muscles in the legs and arms, and the dynamic properties of the veins and lymphatic vessels, sucks the venous blood and lymph back to the heart and lungs for replenishment. It’s a delicate balance that is easily mucked up. So if the kidneys or heart are under functioning, or the musculoskeletal mechanics of the body are unbalanced, you can get congestion at those places affected most by gravity and furthest from the heart… the feet and hands. If there an old injury of the hands, wrists, ankles and feet (seen particularly in netballers!), the swelling will be more pronounced.
Is there normal and abnormal swelling?
Absolutely. Swelling can be due to musculoskeletal strain, as described above, or from abnormally functioning organs. This is why pregnant mums with swelling must always be fully checked out by an obstetrician, clinic or midwife. The condition toxaemia, also known as pre-eclampsia or HDP (hypertensive disease of pregnancy) is a triad of dangerously high blood pressure, generalised swelling, and abnormal kidney function. We don’t know what causes it, but it is a very serious, dangerous condition that can be fatal to both mother and child. It must be managed medically.
What can be done to reduce and prevent swelling in the feet?
Simply put, your body needs to be moving well to pump around the extra fluid volume. This doesn’t mean exercise, so much – you’re pregnant, you can rest up a bit! It means removing strain from the joints, muscles and fascia. One approach is to wear shoes that allow your feet and ankles to move intrinsically, with each step. So a firm arch support, which prevents movement of the transverse and longitudinal arches of the foot with each step, may not be good for you.
Removing connective tissue strains is exactly what osteopathy and chiropractic does. The practitioner will take time to address the whole structure, in full – the joints, muscles and fascia from the tips of the toes to the head and neck. Gentle yoga is a wonderful adjunct to osteopathy and chiropractic.
The body is one integrated, functional unit. No part acts independently of any other part. So intelligent, effective care will assess and treat the whole body to remove connective tissue strains, allowing fluids to flow around the body with minimal resistance and supplying maximum oxygenation, drainage and nutrition.
Check out more from Amy @Balancedbumps
Let Walk This Way Podiatry take care of your feet so you don’t have to worry about them! We regularly see many mothers to be and can put in place a management plan including regular foot treatment and comfortable footwear to keep you happy from the feet up.
Book Online or call our clinic on 02 9797 0179 and make an appointment with one of our expert Podiatrists today.
By Joseph Sassine – Podiatrist at Walk This Way Podiatry