Swelling of the ankles and feet in pregnancy

Swelling of the feet and ankles in pregnancy

Swelling (oedema) of the feet and ankles occurs in over 50% of all pregnancies. It is most common in the third trimester, during the warmer months and at the end of the day.

This is a result of your growing uterus putting pressure on your pelvic veins which in turn slows down the return of blood from your legs. This causes blood to pool and forces fluid from your veins into the tissues of your feet and ankles.

To reduce swelling:

  • Lie on your side in bed
  • Elevate your feet as much as possible
  • Do not cross your legs
  • Try not to stand for long periods
  • Wear flat, comfortable shoes that will accommodate swelling
  • Wear support stockings or tights
  • Exercise regularly
  • Gentle massage

It is important that you continue drinking plenty of fluids. Your oral intake does not affect fluid retention.

Whilst swelling is common, you should contact your doctor if the swelling is sudden, if you develop facial swelling or if one leg is significantly more swollen than the other leg.

This could indicate that a more serious condition called pre-eclampsia is developing.

Other signs of pre-eclampsia may be:

  • Severe headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Severe pain below the ribs
  • Vomiting

Remember that swelling of the ankles and feet is common and is only a temporary condition that will start to resolve once you have had your baby.