Edema or Swelling during Pregnancy on Ankles, Feet or Face and Remedies

When does pregnancy swelling start? What has it got to do with swelling everywhere during pregnancy? Call it pregnancy oedema or edema! Oedema in pregnancy can be quite common that you got to inevitably put up with and be prepared psychologically. Here are the main concerns under focus in this post which includes:

Swelling during pregnancy - swollen feet

Swelling during pregnancy – swollen feet

  • Swelling during early pregnancy and late pregnancy
  • Swollen feet (ankles), hands and face
  • What to expect from 36 to 38 weeks of swelling in pregnancy
  • How to reduce swelling during pregnancy
  • How to cope with ankle and feet swelling during pregnancy

Other crucial features in pregnancy such as dietary needs and weight gain will be discussed on a separate post.

When should I expect swelling to start while pregnant? Unlike the pregnancy complications, oedema in pregnancy may appear in the 3rd month (approx. 21 -27 weeks) the earliest

As a manifestation, this implies that it is less common during early pregnancy. Nonetheless, if it occurs it can be sudden. And it may be a bit shocking, uncomfortable or bring about self-conscious feeling.

Key features of swelling during pregnancy

Pregnancy swelling (edema) is mainly attributed to body fluid retention which simply means that your body is purposefully meant to keep more-than-enough fluids. Clinicians often link this feature to need for all-round protection and cushioning of the growing fetus. These are perception ally maternal body instincts. Retention is also influenced by adrenal glands which produce hormones.

From a biological perspective, as pregnancy proceeds, the fetus – expected newborn – grows in size with time exerting more pressure on nearby blood vessels mainly the veins. As a result, blood in the main vessels forces water out through capillaries into tissues nearby.

Generally, this causes a slow-down in the continuous process of blood flow back to the heart.

A proportion of the fluid retained by your body during pregnancy, is composed of water. This is what accounts for swelling in feet while pregnant. According to ongoing studies in pregnancy, fluids retained in tissues add up to 4 pounds or 25% general weight gain. However, this may alter interdependently with factors such as being overweight.

Another notable feature related to oedema during pregnancy is increasing amount of maternal blood.

Swelling of the belly is obvious since it plays some role in swelling of legs, ankles or feet.

Swollen legs and ankles during pregnancy

Swelling of legs and ankles during pregnancy is also caused by fluid retention. In addition to reduced blood flow, your body and the blood vessels in legs have to overcome gravity whenever in an upright posture.

During the day, swelling would go bad. However, vigilant women often notice an improvement of swelling in ankles every other morning. Evidently, the skin on ankles does not return after pressing with fingers.

What’s good for swollen feet during pregnancy? Avoiding spending most of the time standing is a good beginning. Read on for additional tips to help you cope with swollen legs ankles.

If swelling of legs during pregnancy is accompanied with physical pain see your midwife or call your physician.

Feet swelling and pregnancy

What causes swollen feet during pregnancy? Certainly, fluids retained by maternal tissue in legs is one of the main causes for a feet swelling pregnancy. Almost 80 per cent of pregnant mothers get some kind of swelling in feet while pregnant.

Other factors can worsen swelling in feet while pregnant. For instance:

  • Hot weather
  • Staying in the sun for long hours
  • High caffeine intake
  • Standing for long hours

Swollen face and hands during pregnancy meaning

Moving on, swelling in face and hands while pregnant can be an indicator you are approaching the heights of your pregnancy. Nonetheless, it may signify something different, complex or dangerous to your own life and expected newborn.

Symptoms to watch out in face swelling include:

  • Increasingly gaining weight
  • Puffy face
  • High blood pressure reading
  • Sudden facial or severe swelling in hands

Ensure you inform you visit a maternal health care near you in you see

Swelling during 36, 37, 38 weeks 5th month or late pregnancy

Major noticeable features in pregnancy during these periods are manifested by changes felt in pubis, waist and back. Some women start to realize their swelling in (as from) the 5th month or in the 3rd trimester. Obviously, by the end of 37th week, the belly will appear to be swollen to its best limits.

According to Geeta K. Swamy and Phillips Heine (Duke University Medical Center), accumulation of fluid in legs in late pregnancy is due to the enlarging uterus. Swelling may worsen with more fluid retention as you progressively gain weight. Many more women find it almost difficult to stand.

Other symptoms that are common include:

  • Feeling of numbness manifested in buttocks, waist and hip joints including your pubic area. This is not something of concern as the nerves are affected
  • Frequency in urination increases considerably
  • Bits of headache and back pain
  • Aching pain around the pelvic bone and the pubis

Coping with fluid retention during late pregnancy

Unfortunately, there is little you can do to totally get rid of puffiness due to retention of fluids all over your body.

  • Drink a lot of water that is safe (during hot weather). Water will also aid removal of excess waste products through urinating
  • Reduce salty foods because if you take in more salt your retention will ridiculously haunt you. What! You will end up swelling the more.
  • Avoid longer periods while stood up and unusually long hours seated or in sitting position

During this period, women should be well-harmed to fight morning sickness and dehydration as labor (labour) period lingers.

Other tips to help cope with feet or ankle swelling during late pregnancy

While pregnant, also consider the following.

  • Hot weather can worsen oedema in pregnancy
  • Take enough rest and limit time for chores or activities
  • Diet is another potential cause of water retention if not well addressed
  • Reduce consumption of caffeine to avert other potential pregnancy complications

How to reduce swollen feet and ankles while pregnant

Finding a way out to help cope with oedema is unsurprisingly what you all need to help you move against odds. The following are helpful tips to help you reduce swollen ankles and feet during pregnancy.

1.      Resting while your legs elevated

While resting, the lower quarter of your body (thighs including the legs and feet) should rest on elevated surface. Getting used to this as early as early pregnancy signs show up will be better. Use soft surfaces and choose a place to give you freedom as much as you can to better enhance circulation.

You may use some elastic stocking if you wish.

It is quite possible that you could find it not going on well as pregnancy proceeds. You should get on your back against to allow free space for the swelling belly.

2.      Maternity clothing

Wearing loose clothing is not a change in lifestyle but is one of the pregnancy features that address your personal health and health of the developing fetus. This reduces general body pressure especially when it is hot.

3.      Frequent resting

Create enough time to use in resting alone. Due to the fact that pregnancy swelling is mostly physiologic, resting is healthy for you.

Remember that you should lie on the left while resting. Physicians say that doing this gives vena cava (heat vein) easy work of flowing blood back to heart.

4.      Try making regular movements

Another way of easing pooling in ankles and joints is to exercise. This does not mean that you go to the gym! Not necessary. Just engage your body in light exercise such as walking around instead. Try walking up the stairs without getting support from the rails.

Secondly, take a few minutes doing a casual or light swimming. This will be of great importance in coping up with fluid retention. This should be done with precaution beforehand because of infection risks associated with poorly maintained swimming pools.

Lastly, do cycling if you have been doing it recently or before.

5.      Keep aside your high-heels

Choose comfortable open shoes during the hot weather or you can go back to your pair of slippers (kind of soft open shoes. These are NOT flip flops).

One drawback of high heels is it may lead to back pain which should be a dream while pregnant.

6.      Avoid crossing your legs

While seated put legs a bit far from each other.

When you must see your GP

In any case you notice unexplained for sudden swelling especially during your first pregnancy, seek medical advice or talk to your personal doctor.

Sudden oedema or swelling

You cannot ignore it if it occurs like an accident or something of that kind. Whether the sudden swelling is mild or appears a serious swelling, call your doctor immediately and alert him or her.

Rapid weight gain or excessive swelling

If you notice you just started to rapidly gain weight without really altering your diet, never ignore and sit back.

Although less common, preeclampsia is thought to cause uncalled for excessive swollen face, hands and feet sometimes. It can lead to puffiness in face.

Preeclampsia is associated with accumulation of fluids. However, as opposed to retained fluids and swelling during pregnancy in healthy women, preeclampsia has been linked to certain health-related risks. These include:

  • Family history with preeclampsia
  • Diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Becoming pregnant the first time
  • A twin, triplet or multiple foetus

Word on swelling during pregnancy

It is anyone’s hope and belief that swelling never occurs or least to say. Unfortunately, more than half of women encounter some kind of swelling during their pregnancies. You are counted if you are lucky enough not to experience it. More importantly;

  • Ensure that you regularly check with your blood pressure
  • Countercheck and make sure weight gain all the way from pre-pregnancy through 2nd and 3rd trimesters range within recommendations
  • Do not forget tracking your body mass index – BMG
  • STOP smoking

At the end of the day, you will sooner get over it after you have successfully delivered. Take care.

You may also like 
  1. American Pregnancy Association. Swelling During Pregnancy: http://americanpregnancy.org/. Accessed on 27th February 2017.
  2. BabyCenter, Oedema in pregnancy (swollen ankles and feet): http://www.babycenter.com.au/a230/oedema-in-pregnancy-swollen-ankles-and-feet#section1
  3. Swelling During Pregnancy: http://www.babymed.com/childbirth-class/swelling-swelling-everywhere

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