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Swelling During Pregnancy – Causes, Treatments & Prevention 19 January, 2021   

When you're pregnant, your belly isn't the only thing that swells up. As your pregnancy progresses, you may experience mild swelling throughout your body, particularly in the last trimester. Your hands, legs, ankles, feet, and even face get swollen, and that's perfectly normal during pregnancy.

According to various reports, 8 out of 10 pregnant women experience swelling at some stage of their pregnancy. But why does this happen? Read on to know the causes, treatments, and preventive measures for swelling during pregnancy!

When Does Swelling Occur in Pregnancy?

Also called edema, swelling of face, hands, legs, ankles, and feet due to extra fluid retained by body tissues to meet the developing baby's growth needs. It usually starts around the fifth month of pregnancy and increases as you head towards the third trimester.

How Common Is Swelling During Pregnancy?

Edema during pregnancy is a common thing. You may notice more swelling in the last trimester of your pregnancy. It usually occurs due to the excessive retention of fluids in your body, which happens because of increased blood and fluid volume in your body.

Causes of Swelling in Pregnant Women

#Excessive Fluid Retention

This is the main cause of swelling in the body during pregnancy. When you're pregnant, your plasma volume leaps around 30-50 percent, which eventually increases your total blood volume. As your pregnancy progresses, your blood volume moves towards reaching its peak. That's why you experience swelling during pregnancy.

#Restricted Blood Circulation

Your growing uterus puts pressure on the pelvic veins and vena cava, which is the large vein that returns blood from the lower body parts. This restricts blood circulation and forces the fluid from the vein into the tissues of your legs, ankles, and feet, causing swelling.

#Hormonal Changes

Rapidly increasing levels of various pregnancy hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, prolactin, and hCG, adversely affect your vascular permeability, leading to swelling.

#Disorders of the Thyroid and Kidney

Thyroid, kidney, liver, lung diseases, and congestive heart failure (CHF) can also cause edema.


If you're taking medications for blood pressure or depression, you're more likely to suffer from swelling.

Apart from that, some other factors that may also contribute to swelling during pregnancy are:

  • Hot weather
  • Standing for long periods
  • High intake of sodium
  • Diet low in protein or potassium
  • Not drinking enough water
  • High consumption of caffeine
  • Long days of physical activity
  • Excessive amniotic fluid
  • High blood pressure and anemia
  • Carrying multiples

When Is Swelling A Concern During Pregnancy?

While having mild swelling in different parts of your body is quite normal during pregnancy, you need prompt medical attention if you experience the following severe symptoms:

  • Abnormal swelling in your face
  • Puffiness around the eyes
  • Excessive swelling in the hands
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Sudden swelling of feet or ankles
  • Pain or tenderness in the calf or thigh
  • Preeclampsia
  • Abnormal swelling in your wrists and your hands
  • Excessive swelling or rapid weight gain
  • Swelling that gets dramatically worse
  • A severe headache
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea, vomiting or feeling unwell
  • Coughing up blood
  • Irregular or increased heartbeat
  • One leg is more swollen than the other

Tips to Treat and Prevent Swelling During Pregnancy

You may not be able to avoid swelling during pregnancy, but you can try these tips to prevent or ease it:

  • Reduce sodium intake
  • Increase potassium intake
  • Reduce caffeine intake
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Elevate your feet often and rest
  • Wear loose and comfortable maternity clothing
  • Take short walks multiple times a day
  • Avoid heels and wear comfortable shoes
  • Try standing or swimming in a pool
  • Indulge in pregnancy-friendly exercises
  • Get a prenatal massage
  • Sleep on your left side
  • Avoid wearing tight socks or stockings
  • Embrace a healthy lifestyle
  • Maintain a healthy pregnancy diet
  • Reduce your salt intake
  • Stretch out your body regularly to relax your muscles
  • Avoid being outdoors in the hot and humid climate
  • Wear high-waist maternity compression stockings to improve blood circulation

Experiencing swelling during pregnancy can sometimes be irksome, but don't let it get you down. It's a temporary side effect of pregnancy that will go away after a few days of childbirth. Nevertheless, you can try the tips mentioned above to prevent or ease mild swelling. However, if you notice any concerning symptoms, consult your doctor at the earliest.

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