Why do pregnant women get swollen feet?

Swollen feet, swollen legs and swollen hands are quite common during pregnancy. It is projected that nearly 30-40 % of pregnant women will develop some oedema [fluid retention] of their feet and legs, hand and/or face.

Pregnancy related swelling of feet and hands is caused due to increased blood volume as a result of pregnancy. Generally it is harmless. This is just an essential adaptation brought about by the pregnancy hormones.

Increased blood volume ensures the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the developing baby in the womb as well as removal of waste, such as carbon dioxide from the baby.

Women in their pregnancy usually collect more water in their bodies than they would otherwise. Therefore, a certain amount of swelling in the body occurs, especially swelling of the legs is very normal. Technically this fluid retention is called oedema and it can be noticeably worse in the 3rd trimester as well as during the heat of the summer.

Swollen legs and feet are often considered a common symptom of pregnancy but often women who have yet to experience the phenomenon may have some doubts about this occurrence.

Do I need to be concerned about swollen feet and legs?

In a considerable majority, the swelling of the feet and legs causes discomfort. Women may require new shoes owing to their increased feet size!

Hand swelling could cause pain in the hands, a condition known as carpel tunnel syndrome. This may also cause a tingling sensation on the tips of your fingers.

Swollen legs in pregnancy, also called leg oedema of pregnancy, dependent oedema or pregnancy feet , is probably caused due to impaired blood flow from your legs back to the heart owing to your bump.

The bigger your bump the more likely you are to have oedema. There are other factors in the causation of pregnancy swelling, including varicose veins both in the legs and pelvis.

Usually, the condition starts with swollen ankles, feet, legs and can even extend to the thighs.

There are some disease states

Whilst pregnant, swollen feet and hands may signal presence of a serious condition called pre-eclampsia. This condition is a combination of high blood pressure and passing out of proteins in the urine. It can be diagnosed easily by checking your blood pressure and testing your urine.

Even more dangerous and serious is the swelling of foot or ankle only on one side. If this is accompanied with pain, it is better to report to the hospital immediately as you may be having a clot in your leg.

The last 2 conditions need urgent medical attention.

Are Swollen Legs and Feet Painful/What are the remedies for swollen feet?

Most women who experience swollen legs and feet during pregnancy will agree that even though the swellings are uncomfortable, they actually do not cause any pain. Thankfully, there are certain steps that you can take to relieve swollen legs and feet. For instance, you can try the following:

  • Rest on your left hand side in bed or on the couch
  • Sit with your legs and feet up whenever it is possible.
  • Drink ample amounts of water and urinate as frequently as possible.
  • Stretch your legs and feet whenever itís possible.
  • Do not stand for long periods of time without taking a break.
  • Exercise (including swimming and walking)
  • Make sure you are on a healthy diet
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