One of my biggest fears was developing “cankles” in pregnancy. You know, when you don’t know where the calf ends and the ankle begins? I felt there was enough to deal with having a giant bump, bigger boobs and thighs and bum that are definitely more generous than before. I didn’t need my body image completely shattered by developing cankles as well!
Well, I was lulled into a false sense of security because for the first 36 weeks of pregnancy I was cankle-free. My feet remained slim, my ankles svelte, and my ego huge. Then suddenly, for no reason (apart from my ballooning uterus obstructing blood flow back to the heart, I suspect) I suddenly turned into the Elephant Woman. I had joined the 75% of women who develop the dreaded cankle during pregnancy.
Walking, swimming and drinking lots of water have been recommended as good cankle prevention exercises, and they probably helped me up to that point. Beyond 36 weeks, what worked best was compression. I threw my dignity away and wore support stockings – the kind you get from the pharmacy to prevent clots in the leg during air travel. They looked awful but felt good and kept my feet to a manageable size. Putting my runners on and going for a long walk also helped – probably because there was lots of compression happening inside my now snug sneakers. I was already spending lots of time with my feet up and this didn’t make much difference, although spending time with my legs dependent (or below my knees ie sitting or standing for too long) did make the cankles worse.
If you do develop swelling, and this is sudden, or is generalised (eg in the face and hands as well as the legs), or if you feel unwell and “off” with the swelling, get yourself checked out straight away, as it could be a sign of pre-eclampsia – a medical condition during pregnancy that can be very dangerous for both mother and baby. Otherwise, good luck and here’s to your ankles looking lovely during pregnancy ☺