Other Conditions & Exposures

Expert reports about Other Conditions & Exposures


INFORMATION FOR WOMEN WHO HAVE SWOLLEN FEET DURING PREGNANCY OR BREASTFEEDING

 

What are swollen feet during pregnancy?

Pregnancy produces a variety of changes in physiology, hormones, and body structure, all of which contribute to slowing the movement of fluids in the lower extremities. This can lead to swelling (edema) in the legs and feet, which is often the result of varicose veins. Varicose veins are superficial veins that have become enlarged, twisted, and swollen due to blood flowing back through valves that have evolved to keep blood running in one direction, toward the heart, which in the case of your legs or lower torso means upward against the direction of gravity. Hormonal changes during pregnancy make the walls of your veins more flexible than usual, while the growing womb puts pressure on deep veins in your pelvis. Since deep veins are connected with superficial veins through a system of short connecting veins, a backflow of blood can develop, resisting the upward flow of blood through superficial veins in your legs. Typically, this happens in a great saphenous vein, the longest in the body, running along your leg, but it also can happen on the superficial veins of the torso.


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