How much swelling is normal during pregnancy?

Our experts answer your pregnancy questions

Pregnant woman with swollen feet and hands
Your shoes might not fit. The lines your socks make on your legs might get a little deeper. Your rings might get tighter. Some women even experience swelling in their face, lips and gums.

This type of swelling is entirely normal when you’re pregnant. It can start at about the time you find out you’re pregnant, but it’s more likely in the third trimester.

It tends to be worse later in the day, in hot weather and if you’re on your feet a lot, because you’ll retain more fluid. That’s what the swelling is. Your body is making and retaining more fluid for the baby, so you’re seeing that water weight – especially in your ankles and feet.

But swelling can be an early warning sign of a dangerous condition called preeclampsia. If a woman has a sudden onset of swelling or wakes up in the morning and says, “Oh my god, my face is really puffy,” I would want her to come in for a blood pressure test. That’s one of the screening tests for preeclampsia.

If you have swelling in your feet or legs that doesn’t get better overnight or after elevating them, I would want you to come in, too – just to make sure everything's OK.

Mary Johnson, certified nurse-midwife
Fairview Clinics – Burnsville
Fairview Clinics – Bloomington, Oxboro
Fairview Clinics – Savage

To learn more:
Make an appointment with a midwife or OB doctor or book a tour at The Birthplace.


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