by Melissa D. Jaramillo For centuries pregnant women have been the brunt of jokes, with no body part more targeted than their feet. Expecting? You recognize them. Those poor swollen tootsies that ache, throb and cry out for attention. You probably haven't seen them in a few months outside of those rare moments you can prop them up, but they make their presence known. Pour out some lovin' on those poor forgotten soles! Pampered pregnant feet everywhere will rejoice! Outside of leaving you more relaxed, focusing on this part of your body may offer many benefits including:
- Pain relief
- Better circulation
- Eased swelling
- Lowered risk of preeclampsia
- Stimulating the release of "feel good" hormones such as serotonin
- Decreased stress
- Improved sleep
The "R-I-C-E" technique of athletes can be useful to follow. After all, you're running a nine month marathon! R - Rest and relax. Spending hours at a time on your feet, especially carrying around the added baby weight, can take a toll. Throughout your busy days, give yourself a personal 'time-out' to sit down. You will be 'taking a load off' — literally! I - Ice. Ice will help reduce swelling and provide comfort. You can use ice packs or try applying two bags of frozen peas. Keep iced for approximately 10 - 15 minutes at a time. C - Compression. Compression is a tip often overlooked. As a preventative, you may wish to try compression stockings before heading out for the day. At home again, you can use compression stockings or even wrap with an Ace bandage for short periods of time. The idea here is to increase blood flow and circulation. Do be careful not to go too tight! E - Elevate! Stretch your legs out and prop your feet on a pillow. "E" could also be for Enjoy!
Watching your daily food and beverage intake will contribute to positive improvements in your pregnancy health. Eating a balanced diet will allow you to not only have more energy, but also ward off many of the dangers that cause swelling. Moderate salt intake also plays a vital role to lower swelling. While it sounds like an oxymoron, drinking more water will aid in a reduction of retained fluid.
After promoting the need to rest, it seems rather ironic to then be a cheerleader for exercise - but here it is! Getting active… walking, swimming, low stress aerobic activity (yoga)… all benefit those tired arches. As long as you have cleared it with your medical caregiver, you're good to go. Walkers may want to try orthopedic inserts to improve comfort. Reduced swelling and improved circulation will be among your rewards. (Additionally, exercise is beneficial for baby and will help make labor / delivery easier!)
Ahhh… there is little as pleasant as easing your feet into hot, steamy water. The heat seeps through to alleviate pain. While it may feel a bit indulgent, try a few homemade foot soaks as a special treat. You deserve it! Epsom salt soaks are another option.
Contrary to what you may have heard, having a foot massage is generally safe during a normal pregnancy. (If you are at high risk for preterm labor check in with your doctor for approval.) A foot massage provides welcome relief for joint pressure and also to reduce swelling. You may visit a professional who specializes in prenatal massage or enlist the assistance of a loving partner or friend. Techniques vary. You should avoid deep massage of ankles as those contain acupressure points that could stimulate contractions.
Whether you're seeking to have your feet look good for delivery or simply wish to give yourself a pick-me-up, a pedicure will do the trick! If you prefer not to head to the local salon, tap a fun loving relative or friend to do the job! Finally - a tip from a "veteran" mom: "There truly is that stage of pregnancy where your feet (and other body parts) disappear from view. Before leaving the house DO sit down, extend your legs, and visually verify that you have two shoes that match. TRUST ME." Have you found a favorite way to pamper your feet?