Why do I have swollen ankles and feet during pregnancy?
The swelling, or edema, is from excess fluid that collects in your body tissues. It’s normal to have a certain amount of swelling during pregnancy, particularly in your ankles and feet, because you’re retaining more water. Changes in your blood chemistry also move fluid into your tissue.
Also, your growing uterus puts pressure on your pelvic veins and your vena cava (the large vein on the right side of the body that carries blood from your lower limbs back to the heart). The pressure slows the return of blood from your legs, causing it to pool and force fluid from your veins into the tissues of your feet and ankles.
That’s why you’re most likely to develop edema during the third trimester. It may be especially severe for women with excessive amniotic fluid or those carrying multiples. Edema also tends to be worse at the end of the day and during the summer.
After you deliver your baby, the swelling will disappear pretty quickly as your body gets rid of the extra fluid. You may find yourself peeing often and sweating a lot in the first days after childbirth.
When should I be concerned about swelling during pregnancy?
It’s normal to have a moderate amount of edema in the ankles and feet during pregnancy, and you may also have mild swelling in your hands. But call your healthcare provider if you notice any of these signs of preeclampsia:
- Facial swelling
- Puffiness around your eyes
- More than moderate swelling of your hands
- Excessive or sudden swelling of your feet or ankles
Call your provider right away if one leg is significantly more swollen than the other, especially if you have pain or tenderness in your calf or thigh, because this could signal a blood clot.
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