What causes swelling after you get pregnant?

Our experts answer your pregnancy questions.

Pregnancy; Midwives
We’re not really sure why some women are more prone to swelling than others. It could be genetics, the same as whether you get stretch marks could be genetic. But we do know what causes swelling. 

During pregnancy, your body produces about 50 percent more blood and other fluids for the baby. Your blood vessels are also dilating, getting wider to circulate those fluids. At the same time, your adrenal glands are producing more of two types of hormones that cause you to retain fluid. 

If you notice that your face is fuller or your hands or feet swell, that’s water weight. It can happen any time, but it’s more common during the hot summer months and in the third trimester. It’s just your body hanging on to those fluids to soften up your joints and get you ready for delivery.

But swelling can be an early warning sign of a condition called preeclampsia. Its main symptom is high blood pressure in a pregnant woman who’s never had high blood pressure before, but you could also have severe headaches, blurry vision, upper abdominal pain or shortness of breath. 

If the swelling comes on suddenly, please come in for a blood pressure test so we can rule out preeclampsia.


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.

Related Articles

October 04, 2018 Is there any exercise I should stop doing now that I’m pregnant? Our experts answer your pregnancy questions.