Pregnancy can present any number of challenges as the body goes through so many vast changes over a relatively short period of time.Some common conditions that women face are swelling, leg cramps and lower and middle back pain.As the baby grows in the uterus, the added weight can cause strain in the joints of the ankles and knees, cramps in the legs, and congestion along the spine.These are conditions that many women share, but they can easily be remedied or better yet, prevented altogether by paying more attention to our pillars of support – the legs and feet!

Pay attention to ankles and wrists to keep your body vibrant during pregnancy.

Pay attention to ankles and wrists to keep your body vibrant during pregnancy.

Baby Steps to Happy Feet

Effecting change in our bodies happens in baby steps.In pregnancy, swollen ankles and feet usually need three simple things: hydration, rotation and elevation of the legs.

Women often respond to swelling by choosing to drink less fluids as they believe this will only increase the amount of fluid the body can hold onto.But often, the opposite is the case.Swelling can become aggravated in hotter weather as we dehydrate more easily, causing the body to retain fluid as a natural means of conservation in response to increased salt levels in the body.It is also much easier to dehydrate while pregnant as you are supporting two life systems and expending more energy to do so.When swelling creeps ups, try drinking more water to aid the balance of salts throughout the body and flush the system.

Whether it is weather-related or already a natural occurrence in your pregnancy, swollen ankles and wrists respond to rotating these joints as much as possible. If you are sitting at a desk for the most of the day, allow yourself brief breaks to walk around the office. Then sit away from your desk and circle the ankles and wrists in a clockwise and counter-clockwise direction for several rotations. Ankles in particular can also be rotated while you continue to work at your desk.

By taking ankles through their full range of motion, you alleviate stiffness and stimulate the production of synovial fluid within the joint capsule.This fluid helps lubricate the joint so that there is greater freedom of movement and cushioning within the ankle itself.Rotation also stimulates the small lymph vessels located around the ankles, which help to filter the blood of excess fluid and reduce swelling.You can practice these movements along with other beneficial poses in the 10 minute Yoga Tune Up® Quick Fix Feet & Ankle Series.Remember that in later stages of pregnancy, some adjustments will need to be made to accommodate that beautiful belly!So in Dandasana, follow the instructions, but if necessary separate the feet hip distance apart and always make yourself as comfortable as possible by sitting on a small pillow or against a wall for extra back support.For standing poses, be sure to stand near a wall to assist with balance when needed.

Lastly, in the evening, take the opportunity to elevate arms above your head, perhaps resting them on the top of the sofa, which will allow fluid to drain from the wrists.Rest legs on a coffee table or side table piled with cushions to the desired height so that ankles can also receive the benefits.

Yummy Mummy Calves

Simple calf stretches throughout your day or before you go to bed are an effective way to relax the calf muscles and prevent cramping in the middle of the night.You’ll find a great calf stretch in the 10 minute Yoga Tune Up® Quick Fix Feet & Ankle Series here.Self Massage with Yoga Tune Up® balls allows you to reap the benefits of massage at times in your day that you need it most – particularly late at night before bedtime for tired legs. The Therapy Ball Mini Series includes massage techniques for the calves, which can greatly reduce cramping.For the calf massage sequences, remember that if you need more space for the belly or support for the pelvis you can adjust by kneeling on a bolster and still achieve the desired effect.

Strong and supple feet and legs allow you to gather more support from the earth, which all Earth Mamas should take advantage of!Follow these baby steps and discover that the feet offer a path of healing for the whole body that will sustain you through your entire pregnancy and beyond.Tune Up those feet and calves, Tune Down the tension, and reap the rewards!

Read how to Heal Your Aching Pregnant Feet.

Watch our video for lower back pain relief.

Learn about our Therapy Balls Program for your lower back.

Sara Wolverson

Sara Wolverson combines classical asana and vinyasa wth innovative Yoga Tune Up® exercises to increase awareness, restore physical imbalances and improve mental clarity. In one-to-one sessions, Sara creates a personalized program of yoga, massage and other bodywork as a means to repair damaged tissue, enhance flexibility and build strength. Her intention is to deepen students' connection to mind, body and breath and enhance overall wellbeing and ease in daily life. For more about me or to view my Yoga Tune Up® class schedule go here. You can also visit my website at

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Gabi Schaeffer

Good tips and good resource for my students who are looking to do more at home to alleviate these common pregnancy issues.

Bonnie Chiong

I work primarily with the perinatal population as a childbirth educator & movement specialist and I am always looking for great resources to help my students. More often than not, the pain and discomfort associated with pregnancy can be alleviated by a bit of self-care. It’s a great reminder that simple things can be done for swollen legs and ankles (hydration, rotation, elevation) to feel better immediately! I love that there are short 5- or 10-minute self-massage videos that can be accessed anywhere to suit any lifestyle, even when travelling!
This has earned a home in my teaching/resource toolbox.

Colleen Alber

Love this simple message: “In pregnancy, swollen ankles and feet usually need three simple things: hydration, rotation and elevation of the legs.” Always been a big fan of the rule of three…mostly cause that’s all I can usually remember. Great advice for pregnant gals and the rest of us too!


This post serves as a great reminder for proper self care during pregnancy. I experienced a lot of swelling around my ankles during pregnancy and although it has been a while I can completely relate to the students in my prenatal classes. I wish I had known this then and I appreciate your remark on ankle rotations and the impact it has on the lymph vessels. I noticed in a comment below you shared pressure points to avoid during pregnancy. I wasn’t aware of the acupressure point on the pinky toe, thank you for pointing this out. It is my… Read more »

Cindy DeCoste

I was drawn to your posting because it was about pregnancy. Coincidentally, I also have an ankle injury right now from slipping on stairs at my home and hyper-dorsiflexing my ankle. Some of the tips that you suggested for alleviating pain and swelling during pregnancy [(e.g., taking breaks from sitting to elevate the foot and moving the ankle through its full range of motion (while staying out of pain)] have been helpful in alleviating pain, swelling, and stiffness in my ankle. Stretching my calf muscles has been key. Thanks for the tip about hydrating. I’m curious if this might also… Read more »


These are great videos! And such useful tools for pregnancy. As a prenatal yoga teacher, swollen ankles/feet and leg cramping at night are some of the most common complaints. I will definitely pass on some of these resources.

Melinda Kausek

Thanks for this post – a lot my my prenatal students complain about leg cramps at night and just overall discomfort. It’s great to know that just staying hydrated and giving the feet a little YTU Ball love can help ease the whole body. Will be passing these tips along!


Aloha Sara, Fantastic point regarding increasing circulation especially during the third trimester. As Eve stated, the majority of pre-natal courses focus on the taboos instead of being innovated about how we can truly help to alleviate the issues that arise with the added weight & pressure on the body during this time. Perhaps T’ai was referring to the Thai Massage technique that forbids compression certain parts of the ankels & feet during pregnancy? I didn’t see anyone addressing Christine’s concern about avoiding inversions during pregnancy. I actually encourage assisted inversions to continuing students. They thoroughly enjoy the relieving the pressure… Read more »

Lisa Cassidy

I am no longer having babies but know a lot of my clients who are! This is fabulous information and a lot of great resources via Yoga Tune Up that can assist our lovely mummas of the world to have a happier pregnancy. It is funny that I read this article as I just saw a photo of a very pregnant celebrity who was wearing strappy high heels and her feet and ankles were so swollen, they were bulging out all over the place around the straps. Oh the price some are willing to pay. I wish I could send… Read more »

Alex Ellis

what a great thing to give mom’s the tools they need to have a more comfortable pregnancy. It would be lovely if we all had time and money for massage, but YTU therapy balls are even better! I know many of my pregnant clients will love to take their massages home with them.


Never being pregnant myself, it is great to find a blog that explains ailments that expecting mama’s have to endure. Often times in a flow class there are things such as abdominal work that are counter-indicative for pregnancy. The tips presented in this blog give me some alternatives I can present to this population of students.


A lot of my friends are pregnant and it certainly helps when I can give them a little advice because I certainly don’t know anything about actual pregnancy! This is great practical information for moms-to-be!

Linda Webster

My daughter is currently expecting a baby in July and I was interested in helping her with her pregnancy. Your article about the feet and ankles reminded me of my pregnancy with my daughter. I used to go once a week for a pedicure because the woman that did it gave an unbelievable foot massage. This birth was my easiest labor and this baby was the easiest to take care of . I now wonder if there is any correlation.


This is great! I am excited to confirm that drinking water will not make you retain more water. I had my son 2 years ago and the swelling came my very last week, by that time it was hard to even see them! I will definitely do the feet and ankle series for my next one! I am also excited to try this series out on a few of my family members that are a bit overweight and suffer from swollen ankles – I think they will love this!


i love this! i teach many prenatal clients (in pilates) and am so well trained in how to work them out and talk them out of “feeling fat” but so unaware of how to help them feel better with massage techniques and simply just moving their joints so they are able to actually get an effective work out. so many of them are so quick to give up on their workouts because of fatigue and ive often wondered what i can do (besides helping them psychologically calm down) that will really make them feel BETTER. this is so helpful.

Eve S

I have been teaching pre-natal yoga for almost four years. After reading this I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that although I was doing a number of the things you suggested; it had not been framed for me in this particular way. I have found that many pre-natal classes and trainings are framed in terms of what cannot be done or should be avoided. There are certainly guidelines that can be followed; I see that the things I am learning are going to help me give my students practical, concrete and anatomy based tools that they can use to help… Read more »

todd lavictoire

fascinating. i recently had a pregnant woman in class and though i have a number of alternatives for pregnant women in traditional yoga postures, it wasn’t until i was in class that i realized that “balls to the wall” during the periformis rolling out section of the class was perfect for pregnant women… she was in heaven. the low back and sciatic are under so much strain (i have 3 kids and i watched my wife go through so much physical pain in the low back) – i wish i had had the YTU Toolbox when she was expecting. Interestingly… Read more »


I would like to add another point to this very well described use of simple techniques to get your circulation going during pregnancy: Fluids in tissues are drained through the lymphatic vascualture that runs parallel to the blood vessels. Since lymphatic drainage can be stimulated by massaging and moving this vasculature, I am suspecting that the use of the Yoga Tune Up balls should directly help the fluid drain out of the tissue (aka, feet and ankles) and into the lymphatics.

Sara Wolverson

Hi T’ai, You don’t have to avoid the bottom of the calf/top of the ankle, this is a common misconception. There are no contraidicated areas in this area. If anything, the top of the ankle in particular is a great place to work because it stimulates the production of synovial fluid in a joint that has to bear more weight than it is accustomed to, and moreso because there are a lot of lymph nodes all around the ankle that if gently stimulated will help to reduce fluid retention and swelling around the ankle which is a common occurrence in… Read more »

t'ai jamar

Great! Thanks. I am going to visit my sister and help her with her first pregnancy so any help/suggestions for her is greatly appreciated… of course she is begin for sacrum work but the feet (skipping the the bottom half of calf/top of ankle) can be incredibly enjoyable for the pregnant mommies/bearing that new weight of the world…

Bianca F.

This is a great article. Due to my work, I have clients and customers on a daily basis that are pregnant. I am currently in the Pure Yoga teacher program and I like to use my newly learned information and pass it on to my clients. Little excersises like calves stretches are very easy to do for tired pregnant mommy feet.

Sassi Basir

This is a fantastic post for both students and yoga teachers and aspiring teachers (me!) for teaching pregnant students. I recently had a beautiful baby boy and practiced yoga every day up until the night before i went into labor. Hydration is key – not many mom-to-be’s realize this. I had a lot of friends pregnant at the same time as me and they seemed to think that the more water they drank added to their already swollen feet. After hydration movement of the joints especially the ankles helps tremendously with the swelling – rotation, flexion and extension, no matter… Read more »

Pat Donaher

Thank you for this post- I get students all the time asking me how to do yoga during pregnancy. I’ve never thought to include self-care in the answer, and that might be the best yoga of all for them!

Dagmar Khan

This is brilliant post.It is truly our responsibiliy as Yoga teachers to spread this word and help accomodate as many pregnant mamas as possible,especially because pregnant ladies can not take anything (meaning pain-killers ) to release the discomfort in their bodies.When I was pregnant 10 years ago I remember I had such a bad sciatic pain at the latest stage of my pregnancy,that many times I was not able to even walk.Unfortunatelly for me,at that time I did not know anything about Yoga or concious movement.That experience makes me completely entusiastic about educating expectant mothers and helping them to live… Read more »


This is good advice,I also found swimming useful for improving circulation during pregnancy.

Ariel Marcoux

I have another women’s issues question that I’ve been dying to have answered: why does mine and other women’s low back hurt during menstruation? I normally never have an achy back but often during my time of the month it is so uncomfortable! What can I do?


Good reminder to continue to drink water when you are retaining water as your body is signaling that you are dehydrated.


Most of my friends who have been pregnant complain about their feet and ankles and this is a great way to get the fluid in your ankle joints moving! I will definitely recommend these steps to mommies-to-be!


I am sending this to my pregnant sister! I’m sure she will find the video useful.

I agree with Leigh – I wish there were more non-pregnancy blogs! I have never experienced pregnancy, but I sure have experienced other ‘women’s issues’!

Amber Campisi

I have a best friend that is pregnant and will definitely be showing her this video. I’m assuming this will work well for the swollen ankles I often experience after airline travel.


This is a very helpful alternative for lymph stimulation as I understand inversions are out for mommies-to-be.

Karen K

My sister is pregnant and is always complaining about her feet and ankles. This video was great for me to send to her! By taking ankles through their full range of motion, she can eleviate stiffness and stimulate the production of synovial fluid within the joint capsule. This fluid helps lubricate the joint so that there is greater freedom of movement and cushioning within the ankle itself. Amazing stuff!

Leigh Bailey

I was disappointed that when I searched under the category “women’s issues” that the only articles that popped up were pregnancy related. Women have a lot more unique issues than just pregnancy!


Great ideas for working with pregnant students!

Jill Miller

Thank you for outlining such simple solutions to make room for mommy and baby!