Hot Or Cold Water For Swollen Feet During Pregnancy? – Tips From Registered Nurse

Hot Or Cold Water For Swollen Feet During Pregnancy

Medically Reviewed by Jessica Pierce – Registered Nurse & Nationally Registered Paramedic

Growing a new life means that it may not just be your belly getting bigger. Especially towards the end of pregnancy, you might feel like stepping into someone else’s shoes – because your own no longer fit!

In this article, we’re going to talk about swollen feet during pregnancy: why it happens, what to do about it, and when it may be a good idea to seek medical attention.

This article is not a substitute for medical advice.

Should I Use Hot Or Cold Water For Foot Swelling During Pregnancy?

Most conventional wisdom suggests soaking in cool water for relief of swollen feet, but the rules are just a tad bit different during pregnancy.

Should I Use Hot Or Cold Water For Foot Swelling During Pregnancy

Due to hormonal changes, most pregnant women have a higher than normal baseline temperature. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it does mean that it’s easier to overheat while there’s a bun in the oven!

During the summer months, soaking feet in cool to cold water is likely to provide greater relief from discomfort. As an additional benefit, cooler temperatures cause blood vessels to constrict, which in turn leads to less fluid in the extremities – lowering swelling.

Despite this, many pregnancy experts still recommend warm water for those swollen feet.

Overall, it sounds like the jury may still be out on this question. But the good news is, you can soak your tired feet in whatever temperature water feels most comfortable to you (but no extremes!).

How To Manage Swollen Feet During Pregnancy & Reduce Swelling

Here are some of the best home remedies for swollen feet during pregnancy1:

1. Epsom Salt

Fill a large bowl with warm water, then add about half a cup of epsom salt. Soak your feet for 10 to 20 minutes once or twice a day to reduce swelling2.

For an extra dose of relaxation, add a few drops of an essential oil – but that’s more recommended for second or third trimester (pregnant women should avoid some ingredients like essential oils in first trimester)

For a more intensive treatment for sore feet and swollen ankles, soak a rag in epsom salt solution and apply directly to the affected area.

2. Sleeping Position

Sleep on your left side, if able. Especially during the third trimester of pregnancy, the weight of the uterus can press on a large vein called the inferior vena cava while you’re lying down.

This isn’t particularly dangerous, but it does make it more difficult for blood from the lower extremities to get back to the heart which can contribute to swelling of the feet and legs.

3. Move Around

Try some light exercise to prevent swelling. Moving around gets blood flowing around your body more efficiently, making it less likely to pool in the veins of your feet and legs.

4. Stay Hydrated

It may seem counterintuitive, but drinking plenty of water can actually reduce swelling! As you become dehydrated, your kidneys signal that you need more fluid, leading to water retention and making swelling worse.

5. Your Diet

Avoid excessive consumption of processed foods, which are very high in sodium (aka salt). It may be necessary to reduce sodium intake just a bit during pregnancy, as too much can lead to fluid retention and swelling during pregnancy.

On the flip side, make sure that your potassium intake is adequate. Potassium is a very important mineral as it helps to regulate the water ratio in your body.

6. What To Wear

If you’re already dealing with foot swelling during pregnancy, here are some tips to minimize discomfort and provide some pain relief:

Wear comfortable shoes. Stick to a low heel with good arch support. If you’ve ever needed a reason to buy a new pair of cute memory foam sneakers, this is it!

Here’s another important consideration: your center of gravity shifts forward while you’re pregnant, which means those high stiletto heels will be even more difficult to walk in.

Speaking of what to wear, it may be a good idea to invest in some compression socks. Compression socks reduce swelling by applying gentle, graduated pressure all around your legs to help push extra fluid in the feet back towards the heart.

However, make sure that the top of the socks aren’t tight around your calves as this will actually impair circulation, making swelling worse. Some moms prefer to wear waist high compression stockings to prevent this from occurring.

7. Massage

Try a relaxing foot massage. Head to the spa or salon for a pedicure, or ask your partner to rub your feet after a long day. Essential oils (just a few drops) are a great addition to a massage.

8. Swimming

Take a dip in the pool – the water pressure surrounding your feet and legs can provide some relief from the discomfort of swelling during pregnancy. Walking around in water is also a great way to get some low impact exercise in3!

How To Reduce Swelling During pregnancy

Does Hot Water Help Swollen Pregnant Feet?

Warm water has been shown to help with reducing foot swelling during pregnancy. Not only does it reduce swelling, but it also provides relief from soreness and achiness.

Many moms notice that they get the best relief for their swollen feet by doing warm water soaks during pregnancy. In short, yes, warm water can help – just make sure it’s not too hot to avoid burns!

Can I Soak My Feet In Hot Water While Pregnant?

Hot water may feel great on that pregnancy body, but stay away from extreme heat – especially in hot weather. However, coupling a warm soak with a refreshing foot massage is not likely to pose any dangers for you, your feet, or your baby.

Is Heat Or Ice Better For Pregnancy Swelling?

Typically, heat is a bit better for swelling during pregnancy. Cooler treatments like a cold compress may feel better during hot weather, and can help prevent overheating; however, it’s best to avoid ice cold temperatures as these can constrict blood flow and be painful.

Is Heat Or Ice Better For Pregnancy Swelling?

What Causes Swollen Feet In Pregnancy

Throughout pregnancy, a woman’s blood volume increases by 50% to provide blood to her growing baby. However, this also leads to increased blood flow throughout the entire body.

To compensate for the increased blood circulation, excess fluid can “leak” out of the blood vessels and into the tissues of the body. This shows up as foot swelling, ankle swelling, and discomfort of the lower extremities4.

During the first trimester, swelling is most likely due to hormonal changes. These natural changes can cause abdominal bloating even before your baby bump starts to show.

In the second trimester, the extra weight of the growing fetus combined with long periods of standing on your feet can contribute to swollen ankles and legs.

However, the third trimester is the time that most women are likely to experience swollen feet. Blood volume and weight have both reached their peak in late pregnancy, so don’t be surprised if swollen ankles and feet are the norm for you during this time!

What Causes Swollen Feet In Pregnancy

Typically, swelling of the feet dissipates after giving birth. Occasionally, however, your feet may not return to their pre pregnancy size.

It may be frustrating that your favorite pair of kicks won’t fit your feet any more…but at least you’ve got a great reason to go shoe shopping!

When You Should Consult A Doctor About Swollen Ankles

Swelling of the hands and face, sudden swelling, excessive swelling, blurred vision, or severe headaches can signal a serious condition called preeclampsia, which is caused by high blood pressure5.

This can lead to seizures if left untreated, with life-threatening complications for both mom and baby. Preeclampsia is generally treated with a drug called magnesium sulfate, bedrest, and giving birth as quickly as possible.

If you experience severe swelling in just one leg accompanied by redness and/or intense pain, this could indicate a blood clot condition called deep vein thrombosis.

If you are diagnosed with a blood clot in your leg, avoid massaging the area. This could dislodge the clot, which can then travel to other places in your body like the lungs or brain.

In rare cases, clots from the legs can cause a stroke or pulmonary embolism. Your doctor will likely put you on a blood thinning medication to prevent the development of more clots and reduce your risk of complications.

Article By Jessica Pierce, RN

Jessica Pierce is Registered Nurse, Nationally Registered Paramedic, writer, and contemporary dance artist based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She holds two undergraduate degrees from Oral Roberts University – a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (2018) and a Bachelor’s of Art in Dance Performance (2019).

The purpose of this article is informative. It’s not a substitute for professional medical advice or medical care. Remember: safety first! Consult your doctor/pediatrician in case of any doubts. The author of this article does not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here.


About Me - Zooey BarnettHello Moms! I am Zooey. I am a wife and a mother of three amazing kids: almost 5-year-old Haley and 2-year-old twins Jesse and Matthew. I am a jogger, cooker and blogger.

If you have a question or a comment, do not hesitate to write to me! 🙂

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