Light exercise is recommended to help increase blood flow during pregnancy.

Pregnant women may experience poor circulation in their first trimester. Poor circulation can lead to tiredness, cramps, and other issues that make pregnancy more difficult. Fortunately, there are simple tips you can follow to help improve your circulation during the first trimester of your pregnancy.

How does pregnancy impact blood circulation?

Poor circulation during pregnancy can be caused by a variety of factors, including physical pressure on blood vessels due to the growing fetus, changes in hormones and blood flow rate. The expanding uterus can put significant pressure on veins that carry blood from your legs and feet back up to your heart. This compression can cause swelling in your extremities and make it difficult for blood to properly circulate throughout your body.

Additionally, certain hormones released during pregnancy may contribute to relaxation of the walls of blood vessels, which can worsen circulation problems. To alleviate these issues, it is important to take measures such as regular exercise, proper diet intake, and giving enough rest to your feet and legs.

The more your baby grows, the harder your heart has to work to pump blood to support both you and the fetus. That’s why it’s so important to care for your heart health during your pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of poor blood circulation?

Poor circulation during pregnancy can lead to various uncomfortable symptoms, including swelling in your feet, ankles or legs. You may also experience a sensation of heaviness, tingling or numbness in those extremities. Some women also notice the appearance of varicose veins - enlarged, twisted veins that usually appear on the legs and can cause significant discomfort.

In severe cases, poor circulation can lead to blood clots which could be life-threatening. If you experience any of these symptoms it is important to speak with your healthcare provider for further evaluation and management options.

How can you improve your blood circulation during pregnancy?

Poor circulation can be a common issue during pregnancy, but there are a variety of ways to manage and improve it safely. Here are our top four tips for improving blood circulation during pregnancy:

Exercise Regularly*

Exercise will help get your blood flowing, increasing circulation throughout your body. Regular exercise can be beneficial for both you and your baby. Many women find that yoga, swimming, and walking are safe activities to do during the first trimester and beyond. Even 30 minutes of light activity each day can help support your heart during your pregnancy. Try these pregnancy-friendly exercises:

If you work at a desk job, try to get up and walk around for at least 5 minutes every hour. And don’t forget to stretch before and after you exercise for a bonus circulation boost

*Talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise plan to make sure it’s safe for you and your baby.

Embrace your inner Spice Girl and eat iron-rich foods

No, we’re not talking about hosting a karaoke night (though that’s not a bad idea)! Adding certain foods and seasonings to your diet is a great way to improve your blood flow. Try spicing up your meals with these ingredients:

  • Spicy seasonings, like cayenne and chili peppers: By stimulating your body to release compounds that expand your blood vessels, these spices may help lower blood pressure and increase circulation.
  • Dark chocolate: The polyphenols in dark chocolate can help your body release nitric oxide. This compound helps widen blood vessels and promote circulation.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Avocados, fatty fish, nuts, seeds, and other foods with omega-3 fatty acids can help relax blood vessels and promote blood flow.
  • Lycopene-rich fruits and veggies: Foods high in lycopene (think: tomatoes, watermelon, and other bright red foods) may improve the function of blood vessels, helping with circulation.

Improved circulation during pregnancy depends on various factors, including good nutrition. Eating iron-rich foods can be beneficial for boosting circulation and overall health during the first trimester of pregnancy. Foods high in iron include almonds, spinach, beef and other lean meats, beans and legumes, soy products like tofu or tempeh, dark leafy greens like kale and Swiss chard, dried fruits like apricots and prunes, pumpkin seeds, and fortified breakfast cereals.

Elevating your feet might help increase blood circulation during preganncy.

It’s all about the elevation

When you’re pregnant, leg elevation can be a lifesaver. It can help improve blood circulation and help reduce fluid retention (aka swelling) in your legs and feet.

Pro tip: Try bringing a small collapsible stool when you leave the house to work or visit a friend. That way, you’re never stuck searching for somewhere to rest your feet!

Wear compression socks or stockings

Wearing compression socks or stockings is a simple, effective way to help improve circulation. Compression socks are designed to put gentle pressure on your feet, ankles, and lower legs, which can help increase circulation. Additionally, it helps reduce swelling that often comes with pregnancy. You can find compression socks or stockings in most drug stores or medical supply stores.


You’ll like this one. Prenatal massage can be a great way to improve blood flow during pregnancy — not to mention the added benefits of reducing stress, anxiety, joint pains, and muscle aches. Your body has to work overtime during pregnancy. If you’re able, take a day for yourself and get pampered!

Consult with your physician

It’s always best to speak with your healthcare provider before trying any new treatments or remedies during pregnancy to ensure they are safe for both you and your baby.

Poor circulation is a common issue during pregnancy. We hope these tips help you improve your blood flow and reduce any discomfort you may be feeling!

Subscribe to the Juno newsletter to receive pregnancy tips, special offers, updates from our community, and more! 


Please Be Aware: and the materials and information it contains are not intended to be and do not constitute medical advice, other health advice, or diagnosis.  Do not use or the materials and information published at as a substitute for medical care and treatment. You should always consult with a qualified physician or healthcare provider about your specific circumstances.  

September 29, 2022 — Stephanie McClintock