Swelling During Pregnancy: When to Worry?


Guest Post By Dr. Halland Chen(MD, practices in NYC): Pregnancy and Associated Swelling

Aside from your belly and your breasts, several other parts of the body can swell too during pregnancy, these include your feet, nose, gums, ankles, face, legs, hands, and as well as your private parts. Pregnancy induced swelling is a result of various factors. Many changes occur to your body during pregnancy, causing an excess of fluid, which result to the common swelling of the ankles, feet and hands. But when does “normal pregnancy swelling” become dangerous to not only you but to also your baby?

Edema- Swollen Feet and Ankles

swollen feet during pregnancy
Mild Edema during pregnancy is common and you should not have anything to worry about. Women create up to 50% more blood as well as bodily fluids during pregnancy as a result of high demands brought about by the growing baby. The purpose of the fluid is to help in the softening of the body prior to expansion. The fluid also helps in nourishing you as well as the baby too. It is therefore completely normal to experience some swelling during the latter stages of pregnancy on the hands, feet, and face. Sometimes when your feet swell especially at the latter stages of pregnancy, it can actually indicate that you are about to go into labor. It can also be as a result of the more weight of the uterus which causes the fluid to accumulate in the lower regions. The concern should be raised only when there is a sudden swelling of the face, legs, or the neck. This can restrict blood flow to the heart and lungs, causing a lack of oxygen in your system. If this occurs, call your healthcare physician.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) in Pregnancy

Pregnancy swelling may cause a condition called deep vein thrombosis. Deep Vein Thrombosis is a serious condition where you develop a blood clot in the veins of the legs. DVT can occur in anyone but when you are pregnant you are more likely to develop it. The risk factors for deep vein thrombosis may include:
• History of Thrombophilia, which is a condition that makes clotting more likely to happen
• Prolonged bed rest or sitting for long periods
• Smoking
• If you were on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) or birth control pills before pregnancy
• If you are obese or overweight
When you are pregnant, it’s advisable to go for testing especially if you also have a history of varicose veins. Varicose veins during pregnancy causes severe pain or they result to redness above your knee, this can be an indication that you might be developing DVT. Other symptoms are usually, though not always, will occur in one leg only. Some of these symptoms may include swelling and redness mostly below your knee and at the back of the leg; warm skin and tenderness; and lastly pain. If you are experiencing these symptoms, call your healthcare physician immediately.

Numbness Associated Pregnancies

Being pregnant may also lead to you experiencing some numbness. It is more experienced at night or when you just wake up in the morning. Numbness is a result of the swelling which in turn presses the nerves. This situation tends to worsen with the progression of your pregnancy. Although, in some of the cases it can be a symptom of anemia. Consult with your healthcare physician to make sure there is enough oxygenated blood flowing through your system.

When to Worry about Swelling

Swelling could be as a result of an underlying problem especially if you are experiencing it with other symptoms. These could also come along with some pain which could be as a result of a possible blood clot. You may experience:
• Severe headache which persists for longer periods of time
• Change in your vision such as being more sensitive to light or even blurriness
• Abdominal pain
• Excessive nausea or vomiting
• Dizziness
• Reduced or no urine output

Remedies to Reduce Swelling During Pregnancy

Fortunately, normal swelling due to pregnancy reduces a few days after giving birth. These swelling on the ankles and feet take about two weeks to fully go away, though some remedies and practices can help with quicker recovery.
Meanwhile, if you are experiencing heavy swelling during pregnancy, put your feet in an elevated position or to lie on your side as a way forward, to relieve the pressure. It reduces the pressure on the veins that are found in the lower part of the body. During sleeping, you are also advised to ensure that your legs are raised slightly and you can accomplish this through the use of pillows. Also, avoid crossing your legs during the moments when you are seated. Taking occasional breaks during the day as well as ensuring you avoid sitting and standing for long periods of time with your feet on the floor.
Swelling during pregnancy can also be reduced through routine exercises. Exercising works in a way that it relieves swelling or even completely prevents it as a result of the movement of the entire body muscles. As a result, these muscular movements will then lead or assist in the movement of the fluid all through the body. Swimming is much recommended as well as a thirty-minute walk in the pool, this has been termed to be as much effective.
pregnant love


About Author

Halland Chen

Dr. Halland is passionate in Regenerative Medicine. For many years he performed clinical work and research on stem cell therapies and how they can be used in alleviating pain and regaining function, avoiding surgery when possible, and allowing patients to heal naturally using the body's own growth factors and repair mechanisms. This same technology is likewise being applied to the aesthetics procedures his office performs and can be used to rejuvenate other body parts/systems as well especially in pregnant women who are suffering from vein related issues like varicose veins.Among his other passions, Dr. Halland travels alongside with tech entrepreneurs across various locations internationally to cultivate new upcoming and emerging technologies and you might find him in the park enjoying kite-surfing. For more information on Dr. Halland's current venture visit his website: http://www.veinsandpain.com


  1. Avatar

    Today morning, I was really worried to see my swollen feet first time in my life. I am in my first trimester. Its my first pregnancy. Really helpful information. Thanks Doctor Chen.

    • Dr. Halland Chen

      You’re welcome Echo. As mentioned 99% of the time the swelling is natural and will go away after pregnancy. If you get worried though, feel free to contact your OB/GYN and see if you can get some testing done.

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  4. Avatar

    Thanks for the easy to understand information on Edema. Web is filled with info about Edema but its confusing.

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