Steps to Reduce the Pressure on Your Legs

Taking care of your legs is crucial. You likely know that pregnancy puts pressure on your legs. But you'll also need your legs in tip-top shape once your baby is born, especially as he or she learns to crawl and walk.

Caring for your legs now can help you make it through the next few months and years. When you have these pregnancy issues, take action to ease the pain.

Issue: Leg cramps

Thigh or calf cramps are common. They may be more likely at night and during the third trimester.

Steps to take

  1. Wear support hose.

  2. Rest with your feet elevated.

  3. Straighten your leg and pull your foot toward you when that leg cramps.

  4. Apply heat or gently massage the cramped area.

  5. Make sure you’re getting enough calcium. If you don’t get enough through your diet, you may need to take a supplement. Ask your healthcare provider to suggest a supplement.  

  6. Drink plenty of water. Aim for eight to 10 glasses each day.

  7. Do calf stretching exercises before going to bed each night.

Issue: Varicose veins

Varicose veins are veins that are swollen and can be seen through your skin. They may cause your legs to feel heavy and ache. Your growing uterus puts pressure on your pelvis and legs. This can cause blood to pool in your veins. This leads to varicose veins. You also have a higher amount of blood during pregnancy. This puts extra pressure on the valves in your veins that normally keep blood from building up.

Steps to take

These tips can keep your blood circulating and reduce fluid retention:

  1. Walk each day. Make sure to get up often and walk around if you sit for long stretches of time.

  2. Elevate your legs when you’re sitting down.

  3. Don't stand or sit in one place for a long time.

  4. Wear support hose.

Issue: Swollen feet and ankles

During pregnancy, your body makes more blood and fluids. This can cause your ankles and feet to swell. This issue is called edema. Your hands and fingers may also swell. 

Steps to take

Some of the actions that help ease varicose veins can also reduce swelling. Try raising your legs when sitting, resting with your feet up, or wearing support hose.

Talk with your healthcare provider about any swelling you have. Some fluid retention is common and often harmless. Call your healthcare provider right away if your swelling is sudden. You should also call if you have swelling in your face, blurred vision, or a headache. You may have preeclampsia. This a condition related to high blood pressure. It can have serious effects on both you and your baby. 


Online Medical Reviewer: Bowers, Nancy, RN, BSN, MPHFoley, Maryann, RN, BSN

Date Last Reviewed: 4/12/2016

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