Swelling during Pregnancy

Swelling during Pregnancy

Having a baby is a wonderful experience. Your research on how to be healthy and what happens to the mother-to-be’s body begins. Like morning sickness, fatigue and mood swings, swelling in pregnancy is also one of the common problems faced by women. About 50% of all pregnant women feel it in the leg region including the feet and ankles, particularly in the last few months of pregnancy.

Here are some questions, their answers and remedies that can be useful in easing swelling in pregnancy.

Swollen Hands, Feet, And Ankle

The body generates fifty percent more body fluids to suffice the developing baby’s needs and that also causes swelling. Edema or normal swelling is noticed in hands, face, legs, ankles, and feet during this time. The absorption of fluid softens the body, which enables it to enlarge as the baby develops. It also helps to strengthen the pelvic joints and tissues to open at the time of the delivery.

During pregnancy, approximately twenty-five percent of the weight gain in women is due to these extra fluids.

How Common Is Edema During Pregnancy?

Edema (swelling) during pregnancy is quite common. You will experience leg swelling during pregnancy and also swelling in feet during pregnancy. The amount of swelling, however, might vary according to the time of the day and weather. It might increase in the evening and in warmer temperatures. About half of all pregnant women experience it around their ankles, feet, and legs especially in the last few months of pregnancy. You may feel bloated and swollen due to the water retention by your body that is caused by the raised hormone levels.

When Does Edema Occur?

Edema during pregnancy can be experienced at any time, but it is mostly noticed around the 5th month and can rise in the 3rd trimester.

The following factors may also affect edema (swelling) during pregnancy:

  • Standing for long periods of time
  • Hot weather
  • Long days of physical activity
  • Too much consumption of Sodium
  • Low in potassium diets
  • Constant intake of caffeine

Causes Of Swelling (Edema) In Pregnant Women

The collection of excess fluid in the body is what causes swelling during pregnancy. As you are retaining more water, it’s normal to experience swelling of legs during pregnancy. Changes in the blood also cause fluids to enter the tissues. The growing uterus also adds stress on the pelvic veins and vena cava. The blood slows down in the legs due to this pressure causing some of it to stagnate. This forces the fluid from the veins into the tissues of the feet and ankles. Women with excessive amniotic fluid or carrying multiples might notice severe swelling. It might get worst at the end of the day and during summers. The swelling quickly disappears after the delivery as the body quickly eliminates the fluid. You might also find yourself going to the bathroom more often to take a whizz and sweating a lot in the first few days post-delivery.


Moderate swelling of the ankles, legs and feet caused by edema is normal and quite harmless. In some cases, pregnant women don’t even experience noticeable swelling. However, if your hands and/or face swells and the swelling persist for more than a day at a time, you must consult your doctor. Exorbitant edema during pregnancy can be one of the signs of preeclampsia. It might also be accompanied by symptoms like elevated blood pressure, rapid weight gain and protein in the urine. You don’t need to worry if your blood pressure and urine tests are normal.

When Should You Be Concerned About Swelling During Pregnancy?

Having some swelling in feet during pregnancy and in the ankles or legs is not out of the ordinary. In fact, some may experience mild swelling in their hands as well. However, you can call your doctor immediately if you spot these symptoms of preeclampsia:

  • Puffiness around the eyes
  • Facial swelling
  • Large or/and spontaneous swelling of feet or ankles
  • More than mild swelling of the hands

Contact your physician If either leg is swollen more than the other and if there is pain or tenderness in the calf or thigh. This may be the sign of a blood clot.

Remedies For Reducing Swelling

Fortunately, there are a couple of ways that one can reduce the swelling:

Contemporary Therapies or Medical Treatments

  • Aromatherapy: Cypress oil is beneficial for the circulatory system whereas Lavender oil with chamomile oil will help you be more relaxed
  • Osteopathy: It treats misalignments in the skeleton, which might be putting pressure on specific areas of the body
  • Herbal remedies: Dandelion tea when taken in moderation helps to prevent fluid retention
  • Reflexology: Is a relaxation therapy where one gets a massage along the contours of the feet with special focus on the pressure points

Self-Help Remedies

  • While sitting, avoid crossing your legs or ankles and keep stretching
  • Put your feet up as much as possible
  • Follow this process of Stretching: Stretch out your leg with the heel first after which you gently flex your feet to relax your calf muscles
  • Keep rotating your ankles and wiggle your toes
  • Hydrate yourself by drinking plenty of water because it helps your body retain less fluid
  • Don’t stay in the same position for too long
  • Go for short walks to prevent the blood from accumulating in the lower parts of your body
  • Put on loose shoes that can stretch to accommodate the swelling in the feet
  • Put on waist-high maternity support stockings the moment you wake up so that the blood doesn’t get to stagnate around the ankles
  • Avoid using of socks or stockings that have tight bands around the ankles or calves
  • Exercise routinely – Walking, swimming, or riding a bike could help. Water aerobics is also a good option as being in water reduces swelling temporarily, especially, if the water is up to the shoulders
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle by choosing a healthy diet and no junk food

How Can You Prevent Swelling?

Severe swelling can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise. A balanced diet can help you put the right amount of weight. It should include a small amount of proteins like meat, eggs, fish, pulses or beans. Five portions of fruits are also a must. You should limit salt, sugar or fats in your diet. You should ignore the junk food. Foods rich in Vitamin C and E are good such as citrus fruits, red peppers, melons, potatoes, sunflower seeds or sweetcorn. You should also exercise daily and quit smoking.

Visibly swollen ankles may add to the feeling of ugliness but let it not make you feel low. Edema is a transitional problem that disappears soon after delivery. Now that you are aware of the main points of edema during pregnancy it is time you stop fretting and enjoy your journey of pregnancy.