Swollen Hands and Feet in Pregnancy

Swollen Hands and Feet in Pregnancy

2 Jul 2020 | 3 min Read

Dr Saumya Nanda

Author | 1 Articles

Swelling or oedema in your feet, ankles, and hands especially as your pregnancy nears the end is very common and normal.

During pregnancy, your body produces 50% more blood and bodily fluids, most of which is created to meet baby’s needs as well as to combat blood loss during delivery. These excess fluids also pool in your tissues and joints, which is necessary to soften and make the pelvic joints lax as preparedness for birth.

Throughout the day the extra water tends to gather in the lowest parts of the body, especially if you have been standing a lot.

The pressure of your growing womb can compress the blood flow in your legs. This can cause fluid to build up in your legs, ankles and feet.


Normal Swelling in Pregnancy

Normal swelling during pregnancy is most often experienced during the third trimester, when standing or active for long periods of time, or when excess salt or caffeine is consumed.


Normal Swelling in Pregnancy: Remedies

The swelling usually subsides on:


  • Rest by lying down
  • Elevate your feet while sleeping
  • Avoid long periods of standing or sitting down — take frequent breaks and foot excercise
  • Don’t cross legs when sitting
  • Reduce salt intake
  • Avoid wearing anything that’s tight around the ankles or wrists
  • Reduce caffeine intake
  • Exercise regularly


Foot exercises

You can do foot exercises in sitting or standing position. They improve blood circulation, reduce swelling in the ankles and feet, and also helpful in reducing cramp in the calf muscles:

  • bend at the ankle and stretch your foot up and down 20-30 times
  • rotate each foot in a circle 6-8 times one way and 6-8 times the other way.

Abnormal Swelling in Pregnancy:

Abnormal swelling that can happen in pregnancy, which could be a danger sign of a serious underlying condition. When swelling is sudden or is accompanied by other symptoms, urgent consultation with your obstetrician must be done. Abnormal symptoms you should to be aware of include:


  • Swelling in your face and/or puffiness around your eyes
  • Extreme swelling or sudden swelling in your hands, feet, or ankles
  • A sudden increase in swelling can be a sign of pre-eclampsia, a condition that affects some pregnant women, usually during the second half of pregnancy (from around 20 weeks) or soon after the birth.
  • Swelling accompanied by headache, vision changes, sudden nausea, sudden weight gain, or shortness of breath, severe pain just below your ribs (could signal preeclampsia).
  • Swelling may be due to anaemia with protein deficiency.
  • Swelling more in one leg than the other, accompanied by pain or tenderness, redness may indicate Deep vein thrombosis.
  • Swelling accompanied by chest pain or difficulty breathing (associated with heart problems)

It is always wise to consult your obstetrician for confirmation.


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