Some degree of swelling in your ankles and feet is considered 'normal' towards the end of pregnancy
Generally it builds up over the course of any day, and is worse in hot weather, if you are overweight, or if you are carrying more than one baby. You can sensibly avoid the worst of this if you take gentle exercise to keep your circulation efficient (flexing your calf muscles regularly also helps). Wear flat shoes and sit with your feet raised when you can, gently rotating your ankles.
Mention any water retention or swelling to your midwife; she will check that it is not indicative of anything serious by gently pressing around your ankles. If the indentation of her finger pressure remains, and you have other related symptoms such as a rise in blood-pressure and protein in the urine, she may want you to see the obstetrician to check that there is no risk of pre-eclampsia. Otherwise there is no need.
Provided the oedema you have is not serious, there are a number of alternative therapies you can try to ease any discomfort. An osteopath might be able to improve your lymphatic drainage by gently manipulating your ankle, knee and hip joints. A homoeopathic remedy that is often recommended is Natrum muriaticum. Apis mellifica or phosphorus may also be suggested, although a full consultation and prescription based on an holistic diagnosis is always best. Increasing your intake of parsley, garlic and onions is also thought to be effective.
Gentle but firm massage, working up the leg in the direction of blood flow to the heart, can help relieve the discomfort, and essential oil of geranium is recommended by aromatherapists for ankle oedema. Care is needed if there are any varicose veins, however, in which case massaging the leg should be avoided. Foot massage alone is better in this case. A reflexologist can increase the benefit of foot massage by working on the reflex zones for the lymphatic system, to help fluid drainage.
Shiatsu techniques can also help with oedema, particular with Carpal tunnel syndrome. There is a shiatsu point, Pericardium 6, situated in the wrist three fingers' width below the hand. This point needs to be pressed firmly for between 7 and 10 seconds, three times in succession. sometimes wearing a loose bandage over the wrists is enough to ease the numbness and/or tingling in the fingers that Carpal tunnel syndrome brings on. The same treatment recommended for breast engorgement - the application of cabbage leaves - can also be effective in reducing oedema.
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