Elevate to Alleviate: How Can Leg Elevation Help During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy is a time filled with joy, anticipation and preparation, but it can also take a physical toll on your body. You’ll experience a wide range of less-than-pleasant pregnancy side effects, including swelling, aches and pains in the feet and legs. One of the simplest ways you can help reduce frustrating pregnancy leg pain is to elevate your feet to boost venous blood flow and help eliminate some of the pressure. Along with the occasional foot massage, leg elevation can help combat pain and swelling so you’re (quite literally) back on your feet in no time.
Why Do My Legs Hurt During Pregnancy?
It helps to know why your legs, feet and ankles may feel pained in the first place. Two things happen when you’re expecting — your body experiences natural fluctuations in hormones and must simultaneously deal with added weight, two things that can lead to discomfort and achiness. Often, the weight of your expanding uterus pushes on the sciatic nerve and triggers bouts of pain in the back and legs. In the third trimester, you might also experience leg cramps that keep you from going about your everyday life. Pregnancy can also cause risky venous issues, including deep vein thrombosis — a more serious circulatory issue that could lead to a pulmonary embolism. Make sure you know the signs of DVT during pregnancy so you can get help in the event of an emergency.
How Leg Elevation Helps
All these conditions can be alleviated by a few hours of leg elevation using a high-quality leg rest. Here’s how leg elevation helps in pregnancy:
- It Boosts Circulation — The primary benefit of elevating the legs is that it increases venous blood flow so that your heart is able to deliver essential oxygen and nutrients to the rest of the body. When you’re pregnant, your venous blood flow suffers, which can lead to pain, dizziness, fatigue, swelling and general discomfort. Poor circulation can also contribute to varicose veins and DVT. Even if you’re not feeling pained or swollen, the occasional leg lift is beneficial to improve blood flow.
- It Lessens Swelling — When you’re pregnant, your body produces about 50 percent more blood and body fluid to help support your growing baby. People who suffer from swollen feet and legs will find that elevation helps treat pregnancy edema (swelling) in the lower limbs. Essentially, elevating the legs takes the pressure off the veins and improves venous blood flow, which can help reduce swelling.
- It Reduces Pain — Perhaps most importantly, the occasional leg lift can help get rid of the foot, leg and ankle pain that’s so common during pregnancy. The increase in fluid means inflammation, which can knock you off your feet and keep you from working, exercising or doing everyday tasks. Mayo Clinic recommends staying off your feet and elevating them to prevent inflammation and pressure that triggers discomfort.
- It Takes the Pressure Off — Another great thing about leg elevation is that it provides your muscles and joints with a much-needed rest. If you spent the majority of the day on your feet or sitting, you’ll find that an elevated rest will really help your feet get back to normal quickly. Take advantage of this restful period and make it part of your pregnancy self-care routine. However, it’s important to note that using a leg elevation pillow is best during the first and second trimesters. During the third trimester, since the uterus is so large, it’s best to lay on your side in order to take the weight of the uterus off the vena cava.
- It Can Help with Varicose Vein Side Effects — Varicose veins are a common side effect of pregnancy for many women. They occur because, with the increase in blood flow, more pressure is put on the veins, causing them to enlarge. Additionally, increased progestin levels may dilate or open the veins. Though varicose veins are typically harmless, they can cause pain or make you feel self-conscious. Leg elevation is a simple, natural way to treat and help reduce the symptoms of varicose veins during pregnancy.
How to Elevate the Legs
Lounge Doctor makes some of the best pregnancy leg rests out there to help you take advantage of all these great benefits and to properly elevate your legs in the safest and most beneficial way. If done correctly, 15 to 20 minutes’ worth of leg elevation several times a day will help tremendously. Keep in mind, if leg elevation is done incorrectly, you could potentially worsen your symptoms. Make sure that you elevate in the proper position with back flat and your legs above the level of the heart and follow our usage guidelines for the best possible results. The Lounge Doctor Leg Rest is the only leg elevation product on the market that is based on science and elevates the legs in the most effective position to lessen your discomforts.