Swelling during pregnancy – what to do if a pregnant woman has swollen legs?

Legs swell during pregnancy - is it dangerous, and how to get rid of swelling of a pregnant woman?About 80% of all expectant mothers, while carrying their babies, suffer from swelling of the legs. For most of them, swelling is a variant of the norm, but for some mothers, swelling is a signal for urgent medical attention.

What edema can be considered the norm, and can you get rid of them?


The content of the article:

  1. Causes of edema during pregnancy
  2. Signs and symptoms of edema
  3. When do you need to see a doctor?
  4. What to do with non-disease related edema?

Causes of edema during pregnancy – why can pregnant women have swollen legs in the early or late stages?

Edema is defined as excess fluid in the space between tissues in a specific part of the body.

Considering that the amount of fluid circulating in the body during pregnancy increases multiple times, puffiness is a natural phenomenon. Moreover, a change in water-salt metabolism during pregnancy does not contribute to the rapid elimination of fluid (this is due to an increase in the concentration of progesterone), and then the uterus compresses the organs and interferes with normal blood circulation.

As a rule, swelling becomes noticeable and palpable from the 2nd trimester of pregnancy, but it can also become an earlier “surprise” – for example, with multiple pregnancies or gestosis.

Video: Swelling during pregnancy

Among the causes of puffiness that require special attention, there are:

  1. Development of gestosis. In addition to swelling of the legs, with gestosis, arterial hypertension is observed and protein is found in the urine. Violation of water-salt metabolism and increased vascular permeability leads to the penetration of fluid into the intercellular space, and its accumulation in placental tissues can cause oxygen starvation of the fetus. Without medical care, with severe gestosis, you can lose both mother and baby.
  2. The development of heart failure. During pregnancy, the course of any “heart” disease worsens, and the risk of heart failure multiplies. Puffiness becomes one of the signs of right ventricular heart failure. If you suspect this disease, it is necessary to do an ultrasound of the heart and promptly adjust the treatment.
  3. Kidney disease. Often, swelling of the legs is observed in diseases with nephrotic syndrome. A key symptom in kidney disease, in addition to leg edema, is morning swelling of the face and eyelids. Naturally, these signs cannot be ignored.

Swelling of the legs in a pregnant woman - signs and symptoms

How to recognize a pregnant woman if there is edema – signs and symptoms of edema

With severe swelling, a woman has no doubts about the presence of edema – they are visible with the naked eye and cause a lot of problems.

But what about hidden edema?

How to find out if a pregnant woman has edema?

You can determine the presence of puffiness by the following signs:

  • It’s almost impossible to put on your favorite shoes in the evening. Difficulties arise with the removal of the wedding ring.
  • Another sign is a strong mark from the elastic of socks after wearing them. and an increase in ankle circumference by 1 cm per week – and more.
  • Weight gainif it is too fast (more than 300-400 g / week) or uneven, it will also be evidence of internal edema.
  • Measurement of urine output. In a normal state, ¾ of all liquid drunk per day should come out with urine. The concept of “liquid” includes soups and apples (1 fruit counts as 50 g of liquid), and water, and coffee, and so on. Research involves calculating the difference / balance between what you drink and what you drink. Drinking diary you need to keep it during the day, and all the urine is collected in a single container in order to determine its volume at the end of the day. Further, the resulting amount of liquid that the mother drank during the day is multiplied by 0.75 and the result is compared with the volume of urine per day. A strong difference in results is a reason for examination.
  • Press your finger on the skin… If, after pressing, there is no trace of pressing, there is no edema. If a depression remains, which levels out for too long, and the skin at the point of pressing remains pale, there is swelling.

Video: Swelling of the legs in pregnant women

In what cases is it necessary to see a doctor urgently in case of edema during pregnancy?

It is necessary to urgently consult a doctor for puffiness in the following cases:

  1. Gaining weight too quickly.
  2. Severe swelling in the morning. Especially in the face area.
  3. Signs such as burning, tingling, or even numbness in the extremities, difficulty bending the fingers, and discomfort in the feet when walking.
  4. Shortness of breath and palpitations, hypertension.
  5. Nausea, headache, increased pressure more than 140/90, as well as convulsions or confusion (these are concomitant signs of preeclampsia).
  6. Enlargement of the liver with aching pain and heaviness in the right hypochondrium, belching and bitterness in the mouth, soreness of the liver on palpation, shortness of breath even with light exertion and weakness, the appearance of a dry cough at night – sometimes even streaked with red phlegm. All these are signs that accompany leg swelling in heart failure.

After examining the anamnesis, the specialist prescribes appropriate tests and studies, including ultrasound of the heart and kidneys, urine analysis according to Nechiporenko and detailed blood tests, and so on.

Treatment is prescribed according to the detected disease.


Even if your health remains quite satisfactory, edema is a reason to see a doctor!

In 90% of all cases of edema, a worsening of the condition is observed, which over time can turn into gestosis. This is determined by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. Therefore, it is important to timely foresee all possible scenarios for the development of events – and take action.

Video: Swelling of the legs during pregnancy. Prevention of leg edema

What to do with edema in a pregnant woman, not caused by diseases – we get rid of edema during pregnancy

If, according to research, analyzes and the doctor’s verdict, the puffiness has exclusively physiological reasons, and experts did not find anything wrong with it, then you can get rid of the edema (or at least reduce its intensity) in the following ways:

  • Eliminate salt from your diet! The more sodium is in food, the more water is retained in the tissues. Can’t help but salt your food at all? Of course, fresh food will not go into your mouth. Therefore, at least reduce the amount of salt per day and give up the most salty foods – herring, cabbage, sausages, and so on. There is no need to talk about canned food, snacks and chips.
  • Get used to a healthy diet, relieve your blood vessels of stress… We refuse to fry in favor of steamed and boiled food; refuses harmful effects in the diet, regularly consume vegetables with fruits and cereals, do not abuse coffee and even green tea, which, by the way, contains even more caffeine than classic black tea. Drink water, juices, mineral water, compotes.
  • Do not get carried away with diuretics… Even homeopathic remedies can seriously harm mom and baby. Therefore, first discuss recipes from the category “take lingonberries, bearberries and parsley …” with your gynecologist. And do not forget that along with the liquid you will also lose the potassium you need.
  • We rest more often! About 40% of all expectant mothers with edema suffer from them due to varicose veins. The disease is harmless, at first glance, but requires attention. Use a small footstool to relieve fatigue. Buy an ottoman to put your swollen legs on it when you rest. In the “lying” position, place a roller or pillow under your feet so that your legs are raised to a height of up to 30 cm. Use varicose veins creams as recommended by your doctor.
  • Lie on your left side more often. In this position, the load on the kidneys will be less, their work is better, and the “run” of urine through the excretory system will be faster.
  • Walk 40-180 minutes a day. Being active reduces the risk of developing physiological edema by half. Do not forget about water aerobics and yoga, about swimming and gymnastics for expectant mothers.
  • Have you decided to work until the very birth? Commendable! But every hour – obligatory breaks with gymnastics for the body and legs. Remember that it is absolutely impossible to sit cross-legged!
  • We buy compression stockings with pantyhose and a bandage, which will unload the back and reduce the load on the lower limbs. Important: the bandage should support, and not squeeze in any way, and the degree of compression of the stockings / tights will be indicated by the phlebologist. And pay attention to special underwear for pregnant women, which protects blood vessels from liquid stagnation. And remember that the expectant mother should put on underwear, tights and a bandage while lying down in order to properly distribute the load.

And, of course – strictly follow the doctor’s recommendations! All the more so if, according to the results of the analyzes, certain problems were found.

All information on the site is for informational purposes only, and is not a guide to action. An accurate diagnosis can only be made by a doctor.

We kindly ask you not to self-medicate, but to make an appointment with a specialist!

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