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Edema in Pregnancy

Pregnant women often suffer from swelling of the limbs. Excessive accumulation of fluid in the interstitial space is formed due to a change in hormonal levels. Sodium retention in tissues prevents fluid from being excreted. The feet, ankles, and fingers swell most of all.

Swelling of tissues can also be on the face, especially in the morning. The kidneys cannot cope with the increased load, which leads to the appearance of local edema. The level of fluid in the body of a pregnant woman doubles.

When Does Edema Start in Pregnancy?

Edema normally does not occur in early pregnancy. Swelling of the lower legs is observed in the second trimester and this is their most striking manifestation. Further puffiness may occur in the third trimester. This occurs after a long walk, standing, or if there are problems with the vessels.


The first edema appears on the 18th week of pregnancy. They are small and pass quickly. The strongest stagnation of fluid in the tissues is observed at the end of the second trimester from the 22nd to the 25th week.

The legs during this period swell more often, and a feeling of heaviness and fatigue in the limbs may appear. Swollen feet and ankles in the third trimester are common in the 34th and 36th weeks of pregnancy.

Edema pregnancy weeks

When will it end?

The first symptoms disappear after the 18-20th week. A further manifestation of puffiness will depend on compliance with the water-salt balance, daily routine, and proper nutrition. Symptoms can appear only after heavy loads with the positive development of the situation. The swelling should be gone by 37 weeks. Completely the symptom disappears only after childbirth.

How Edema Usually Feels during Pregnancy?

Swelling in the legs is felt as a strong heaviness, pulsation, and pressure. Ankles, feet, and fingers swell, filled with stagnant fluid. It is uncomfortable for a woman to walk and sit. Symptoms may manifest as aching pain. The cause of edema will be hidden in problems with the vessels in this case.


The symptom of edema is more acutely expressed in severe swelling of the extremities. There is pain, a feeling of numbness, and pulsation in the tissues. I want to take off my shoes and take a horizontal position. Walking becomes unbearable. A woman complains of fatigue and heaviness in her legs.


Edema in a mild form appears for a short time. This happens in extreme heat with increased stress on the feet. Painful sensations are absent. A woman may not even notice that she has swelling if she does not look at her legs.

It is necessary to distinguish between physiological and pathological edema. Pathological require treatment based on the cause of occurrence.

Prevention methods

A set of preventive measures to eliminate the causes of puffiness includes the basic principles of a proper lifestyle. These are nutrition, drinking regimen, sports, timely rest, and regular examination. You can reduce the risk of edema during pregnancy if their main causes are eliminated in advance. Some preventive measures:

Examination of the lower limbs vessels

Since varicose veins are the most common disease that complicates swelling, you need to know about its presence. It is better to carry out medical therapy before pregnancy if blood congestion, blood clots, and problems with lymph flow are detected.

The examination is carried out by the method of inspection and ultrasound control. The doctor determines the extent of the problem and prescribes treatment.

Reduce your salt intake

Try to reduce the consumption of salty foods as much as possible in preparation for pregnancy. Sodium inhibits the outflow of fluid, provoking its stagnation in the tissues. Salt food only after it is fully cooked. This is especially true for hot dishes. The amount of salt used will be reduced and not hidden.

Comfortable shoes

Reduce the amount of time you wear heels. Do not wear synthetic shoes with a hard last. Buy models with comfortable low soles made of elastic and flexible materials. Give preference to sports models. Choose shoes that don’t squeeze your feet where they bend. It is better to use professional sports shoes for sports and long walks.

Why Edema Occurs in Pregnancy?

Stagnation of fluid in the tissues during pregnancy occurs due to hormonal imbalance. Progesterone is released in large quantities. It disrupts the functioning of the vascular system. Sodium retention occurs, which prevents the outflow of fluid. It accumulates in tissues and forms edema.

The cause of swelling is increased pressure on the uterus. The amount of circulating blood is large. This increases pressure on the pelvic area and disrupts the outflow of blood from the extremities, which causes related problems with lymph flow and fluid retention.

Swelling of the limbs, face, and hands can occur due to external influence of factors: extreme heat, increased stress on the feet, and long sitting in place. There are more serious reasons for edema during pregnancy: varicose veins, preeclampsia, impaired kidney function, and cardiovascular insufficiency.


You can use simple methods to alleviate the situation when swelling is already bothering the pregnant woman: exercises on the legs, establishing a drinking regimen, diet, and the use of herbal remedies. It is always better to consult a doctor first to rule out the pathological nature of the origin of edema. Consider in more detail the means of protection against edema:

Salt baths

Cool baths with Epsom salts will help relieve swelling in the lower extremities. Water tends to be more concentrated. Salt draws excess fluid from the tissues, relaxing the feet and normalizing blood flow. Give preference to pharmacy salt. Dissolve it as much as possible in the water and dip your feet there for 15-20 minutes.

Foods rich in magnesium

Enrich your diet with foods high in magnesium: almonds, cashews, spinach, tofu, broccoli, and avocados. The use of magnesium will reduce the stagnation of fluid and weaken the symptom of swelling. Magnesium is an important element for normal water-salt metabolism. Its deficiency directly affects the degree of swelling.


Take a position so that the legs are raised above the level of the heart. The angle of elevation should be as large as possible if the size of the abdomen allows it. This position will quickly relieve swelling, relax the legs and give a feeling of lightness. Do this exercise for 20-30 minutes in the evening.


Consult a doctor if swelling is accompanied by severe headaches, high blood pressure, or nausea. This may be a manifestation of more serious health problems: preeclampsia, heart failure, and diabetes. You need to see a doctor if swelling persists for a long time. The manifestation of a symptom can be secondary and signal serious pathologies. This is often associated with kidney problems.

What Not to Do

You cannot engage in treatment when fluid stagnation occurs for a short time and quickly passes. This is just a pregnancy symptom that will go away on its own. Some women make a lot of mistakes trying to use a lot of medicines and untested methods to eliminate edema. Here are examples of what you definitely should not do with edema:

Take diuretics

This is one of the cardinal methods of combating edema, which is best used only for its intended purpose and before pregnancy.


A long static position, walking, and physical activity can complicate the condition of the tissues. Fluid stagnation will increase and the symptom will drag on for several days.

Drink plenty of fluids at night

Don’t drink before bed. This applies not only to plain water but also to tea, juices, and even broths. Increasing fluid in the body will increase swelling.

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