Swelling is an unpleasant but common part of pregnancy. When fluid builds up in areas like your legs, ankles, feet, face, and hands, it's called edema. You may notice this more during your third trimester. Most women get what doctors call physiologic edema. It is very common, and there's no reason to be concerned.
Your growing uterus can interrupt blood flow and cause more fluid to stay in your leg veins. The extra liquid goes into nearby tissue. That causes the tissue to swell.
Your body also makes more of some hormones when you’re pregnant. That can also make you hold fluid and look puffy.
What You Can Do
Until then, you can try these solutions for relief:
Take it easy. Swelling can get worse when you spend long amounts of time standing and walking. Rest often, and elevate your feet.
Try this yoga pose. Place your raised legs against a wall as you lie on your back, or your left side. The large vein that brings blood from your lower body to your heart won’t have the weight of your uterus on it.
Use compression socks. These stop fluid from building up. You should start with ones with light compression and put them on when you wake up. These are different from other socks or pant bottoms that are too tight around your ankles and calves and block blood flow.
Move around a little. Light exercise, like multiple short walks throughout the day, or simply flexing your foot can help prevent swelling that can happen when you stay in one position for too long.
Time in the pool may be beneficial, too. As you walk in a pool, your muscles help move fluid out of tissues. You should talk to your doctor before you begin any exercise routine.
Hydrate. Eight to 10 glasses of water each day can keep you hydrated and help keep your body from holding onto extra fluid.
Keep a healthy weight. Your doctor may not want you to lose any weight since you're pregnant, but you can ask if you should. Also, find out how much salt and carbohydrates you should have. Too much of either can lead to swelling.
Talk with your doctor. They may have other ideas you can try.
When to See Your Doctor
Swelling during pregnancy is normal. But sometimes, it can be a sign of something more serious. Call your doctor if you have sudden swelling in your face and hands. Also give a call if, in addition to your swelling, you have:
- Intense headaches
- A hard time breathing
- Blurry vision
- One leg that's red, painful, and feels warm
- Blisters and a warm, tender red rash