I’m 32 Weeks Pregnant, and This Cream Gave Me My Ankles Back

Hatch Down Girl Review
Hello, old friends. Photo: Keystone Features/Getty Images

I never really noticed my ankles until they disappeared. And with their disappearance came aches and pains spread throughout my feet and shins, with my now-invisible ankle serving as a kind of pain fulcrum. I’m 32 weeks pregnant and I hope to see my ankles again one day very soon. Maybe even walk comfortably again for more than, like, a minute.

Like probably a lot of first-timers, I’ve been sort of insanely careful about what I’ve put in, on, and even near my body during my pregnancy. But as the months dragged along I’ve gotten a lot less skeptical about stuff that’s supposed to make you feel better — at a certain point, you’ll try anything. (I’ve become addicted to my jade-roller, for instance.)

Hatch Down Girl Review
It’s got aloe, chamomile, and ginger.

I came across Down, Girl on a day where my feet were hurting particularly badly, and the swelling seemed comical. It’s made from aloe, chamomile, and ginger, and promised to reduce swelling and soothe at the same time, and is made specifically for legs and feet. This seemed basically impossible — by which I mean exactly the product I wanted to order from the universe but couldn’t believe would ever exist in the real world — but I was in the mood to give it a try if only to coerce my husband into rubbing my feet.

I plopped my tree-trunk lower legs into his lap and forced him to rub it all over my feet and legs (it’s actually gel-based but it feels and looks like a lotion, which is a plus for me). At first there was a pleasant tingle, and the rubbing felt good. Like, really good. I couldn’t tell if it was the cream, or the rubbing in general, but then, literally before my very eyes, my lower calves and ankles gained some definition. My legs and feet were no longer one continuous cylinder, but two distinct entities. I mean, they didn’t look like my pre-pregnancy feet, but “Down, Girl” isn’t actual magic. Only close. Pretty quickly I was able to walk without hobbling or wincing, and the next morning — like 12 hours later! — I managed to actually slip into some boots that hadn’t fit since my first trimester. I’m officially a believer.

More Strat-endorsed swelling reducers

Wanderlust Air-Travel Compression Socks

You know that swollen-leg feeling you get after flying? You’re not imagining it. Writer Alice Gregory found that compression socks were the best remedy: “Wearing them for the first time can be jarring. They’re astonishingly tight and very stretchy. They require a little muscle to pull on, but the effect is worth it. You’ll land without heavy legs or swollen feet (the scourge of travelers who take their shoes off mid-flight), and you’ll arrive feeling deceptively slim.”

Esarora Ice Roller for Face & Eyes

Beauty writer Rio Viera-Newton loves the ice roller for reducing under-eye bags: “If puffy eyes are your problem, you should try ice-rolling. You know the old trick of putting cold spoons under your eyes? Well, this is a modernized version of that. Keep it in the freezer, and when you want to use it, let it sit out for a second so that it’s not painfully freezing, then roll it gently over your under-eyes.”

Plemo Spa Eye Mask

Writer Hilary Reid has her own secret for fighting puffy face with this eye mask: “I keep the eye mask in the freezer, and take it out just before I want to use it. (My secret is to wear it over a sheet mask at the same time, usually after a long night. I like the Innisfree Berry hydro-gel mask, the Sephora rose mask, or the Tonymoly lemon mask.) But it’s also proven far more useful than I ever imagined. The flexible form lends itself to anything from icing an oncoming zit to soothing a migraine. Recently, I used it to ice a swollen ankle — eyeholes aside, it was exactly the right shape for icing a limb, and the Velcro strap allowed it to be wrapped around and secured in place. If escaping to a cooler locale this summer isn’t an option, at least you can have the small luxury of the Plemo Sleep Mask.”

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I’m 32 Weeks Pregnant, and This Cream Gave Me My Ankles Back