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Mom's Feet Are a Vivid Reminder That Every Pregnancy Is Different

by Angelica Lai

Photograph by Twenty20

It can be hard not to compare your pregnant body with other women who are also expecting. Sometimes it takes just one comment to send you into a spiral of insecurities, and you start to wonder if your baby bump is too big or too small, why your hair (not just on your head) is growing so quickly or seemingly not at all, or if your skin looks patchier than that of others.

Here's the truth: No two pregnancies are alike. If you need proof, just look at Australian fitness model Chontel Duncan's feet. The mom shared a side-by-side comparison of her feet during her first pregnancy and second pregnancy to show that pregnancy symptoms can be extremely different, even for the same woman.

"This is the raw truth on how bad my fluid got towards the end of my first pregnancy. Second time (around) I have done nothing different but have absolutely no fluid retention," she wrote on Instagram.

The swelling of extremities, like the feet and hands, is common for pregnant women. Maybe that wedding ring is feeling way too snug or your foot can't fit that size 7 shoe anymore. But don't worry. This can happen for several reasons, from hormonal changes to the fact that bodies retain more fluid during pregnancy. In addition, as your baby grows, the enlarging womb presses on the two large veins that return blood to the heart from your feet and legs.

"The veins then can't carry away as much fluid from your lower legs, and so your legs and feet swell," Michigan-based OB-GYN Donna Harrison tells Mom.me.

"But if it’s very rapid and you haven’t been on your feet or sitting for a long time—where gravity will cause that swelling—or if it happens with a horrible headache or vision changes, you need to see your doctor ASAP. This could be a hypertension issue," said L.A.-based OB-GYN Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz.

According to experts, to help with foot and ankle swelling, try to avoid standing for long periods. But, this doesn't mean to avoid being physically active. Exercise, like taking walks or swimming laps, can help with the blood circulation. And when you sleep, try to lie on your left side with your feet level or slightly elevated to allow the blood and fluid to drain from the legs.

Duncan also made waves last year when she showed a picture of her with a friend who was due just four weeks before her. Their belly bumps were as different as night and day.

She also pointed out that she's taller than her friend and that Duncan was carrying Baby No. 1 while her friend was pregnant with Baby No. 3. Still, despite these factors, her photo drove home the same truth.

"Each woman carries different and this most certainly doesn't mean one is doing something wrong or not healthy, etc. We both have healthy growing babies and we both have had incredible pregnancies so far," Duncan wrote.

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