It's normal for your body to produce and retain more fluid during pregnancy, particularly during the last few months. This can cause slight swelling (called edema), particularly in the legs, feet and ankles, but also in the hands and face. This swelling may be worse towards the end of the day or during hot summer months.
Causes of swelling during pregnancy
Extra fluid in your body helps prepare you for pregnancy and delivery. It allows your tissues to handle the growth of your baby. It also prepares your pelvic area for labor and delivery. Much of the weight you gain during pregnancy is from extra fluids. Your body usually gets rid of them in the days after delivery.
During late pregnancy, your growing uterus puts pressure on the veins to your legs and feet. This slows blood circulation and causes even more fluid to build up in your feet and ankles. Standing or sitting with your feet on the floor for long periods of time can increase the pressure on these veins.
What you can do
Some swelling, particularly in the feet and ankles, is normal during pregnancy. But if your swelling is severe, contact your health provider. Here are some tips for relieving and managing swelling that is normal:
Relieve the pressure.
Improve your circulation.
Eat healthy foods.
Be careful of medication.
When to talk to your health care provider
Mild swelling of the legs, hands and face is normal during pregnancy. But call your health care provider if you have severe or sudden swelling, particularly in your hands or in your face around the eyes. This could be a sign of a serious condition called preeclampsia (also called toxemia) that causes high blood pressure and fluid retention. Women with preeclampsia may experience any of the following symptoms:
Also call your health care provider if one leg is much more swollen than the other, especially if you also have pain or tenderness in your calf or thigh.
Knowing the signs of pregnancy can help you tell if you’re pregnant. Here are some signs that you might be pregnant:
If you have any of these pregnancy signs and think you may be pregnant, go to your health care provider. The sooner you know you're pregnant, the sooner you can begin prenatal checkups and start taking good care of yourself and your growing baby.
You'll start feeling your baby's kicks at around the 28th week of pregnancy. By this time, your baby's movements are usually well established and some health care providers recommend keeping track of these movements.
Keep counting until you've felt 10 movements from baby. If baby doesn't move 10 times within 1 hour, try again later that day. Call your health provider if your baby's movement seems unusual or you've tried more than once that day and can't feel baby move 10 times or more during 1 hour.
Popcorn popping. A little fish swimming. Bubbles. Butterflies. Tickles. These are common words used by women to describe their baby's first movements. Also known as "quickening," it's a reassuring sign that your baby is OK and growing. This milestone typically starts sometime between 18 to 25 weeks into pregnancy. For first-time moms, it may occur closer to 25 weeks, and for second- or third-time moms, it may happen much sooner.
At first it may be difficult to tell the difference between gas and your baby moving. You might not feel movement as early as you are expecting to feel it, but you'll notice a pattern soon. You'll start to learn when the baby is most active and what seems to get her moving.