Pregnancy Information Center

Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources


Swelling During Pregnancy: Your Symptoms Manual


What Swelling During Pregnancy Is

Swelling occurs when there's more fluid in your body tissues than normal; this is also known as water retention or edema. This happens by late in the second trimester and often becomes more noticeable as your due date approaches. Your feet, face and hands will probably swell first, and your rings may even become too tight at some point. 

Why Swelling During Pregnancy Happens

When you're pregnant you have more fluid in your blood vessels, which changes the pressure in your veins, making it easier for fluid to move into your tissues. Fluid can pool around your ankles, especially if you're standing for extended periods of time.

Pregnancy hormones also play a role, causing retention of sodium by the kidneys, which causes the body to retain fluid.

Certain pregnancy conditions, including preeclampsia, can also cause edema.

How to Relieve Swelling During Pregnancy

There isn't much you can do about swelling, but these tips may help temporarily:

  • Don't stand for long periods of time.
  • Put your feet up if they become swollen.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Rest.
  • Ask your doctor about support hose. It's safe, and it may make you feel better, but it may not actually decrease swelling.

What the Risks to Your Baby Are from Swelling During Pregnancy 

Most swelling is normal and although it's bothersome, it's temporary and not dangerous.

Swelling can sometimes be associated with a serious pregnancy complication called preeclampsia. Your provider can do a quick blood pressure reading to check for this condition.



© Treasures and Travels / Stocksy United
Reviewed by Elisabeth Aron, MD, MPH, FACOG on January 22, 2016.
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