Why do you have leg edema during pregnancy?

The article was consulted professionally by Master, Dr. Nguyen Thi Hong Thank – Obstetrician and Gynecologist – Obstetrics and Gynecology Department – Share99 Phu Quoc International Health Hub.

Pregnancy is a time when a woman's body has a lot of changes, in which leg edema during pregnancy is a very common phenomenon. So why do pregnant women often have leg edema, what can pregnant women do to reduce leg edema?

1. Causes of leg edema during pregnancy

There are many different factors that cause edema (not only leg edema during pregnancy, but also edema in the hands and face) in the woman during pregnancy:

  • During pregnancy, the body produces about 50% more blood and body volume than usual to meet the needs of a developing fetus.
  • Not only does it produce more blood and water, but the body also re-absorbs and retains more water than usual, with the aim of softening the body, making it easier for the body to adapt as the fetus grows, while helping to prepare tissues and joints in the pelvis that are easy to expand at the time of labor for childbirth.
  • The uterus grows larger (as the fetus grows), putting pressure on the veins, affecting the flow of blood according to the vein returning to the heart.
  • Changes in hormones also play a certain role.

2. When will the woman suffer from leg edema?

In fact pregnant women can appear leg edema at any time during pregnancy.

  • With the first tri month of pregnancy: The woman may glimpse mild edema in her legs, arms or face; if there is a lot of edema at this stage, especially accompanied by other symptoms such as dizziness, headache, bleeding,… you need to see a doctor immediately.
  • With three months between pregnancies: The middle tri triennies are a period of visible edema, but usually edema of the legs during pregnancy of the 5th month 10th month of pregnancy is very common, except in cases where the pregnant woman stands a lot or the weather is hot.
  • With the last tri tri month of pregnancy: This is when leg edema during pregnancy appears most pronounced, and most common. The closer we get to labor, the heavier the leg edema will be, and usually after childbirth from a few days to a few weeks, the edema disappears on its own.

Factors that may affect a woman's condition during pregnancy include:

  • Hot weather
  • Must stand for a long time
  • Carry out physical activities that last for days
  • Low potassium diet
  • High caffeine consumption
  • High sodium consumption


A low-potassium diet can be the cause of pregnant women's leg edema during pregnancy

3. When to see a doctor?

Edema in general and leg edema during pregnancy in particular is a very normal, common phenomenon, there is nothing to worry about. Usually after childbirth from a few days to several weeks edema will disappear on its own without any intervention. However, edema can also be a manifestation of a more serious condition, typically pre-seizure, so see your doctor immediately if the following signs appear:

  • Edema appears suddenly in the hands, legs, face or around the eyes, the degree of rapid aggravating.
  • Dizziness or blurred vision.
  • Severe headaches
  • unconscious.
  • Difficulty breathing.

If you notice that edema appears only on one side of the leg, accompanied by signs of pain, heat, redness, the pregnant woman should be wary of herself with deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The risk of thromboembolysis in pregnant women is higher than normal. Best of all, if you suspect or are uneasy about any signs or manifestations, consult a specialist.

4. What can a woman do to limit leg edema during pregnancy?

Edema in general, and leg edema in particular during pregnancy is a normal, common phenomenon, and often disappears on its own after childbirth. During pregnancy, to reduce these phenomena, pregnant women can:

  • Reduce pressure on the legs: Pregnant women should not stand too long, stand for long periods of time. While sitting if possible, fight your feet up, and regularly rotate your ankles and gently fold your feet to dilate the twin muscles in your shins. Two legs high when lying down.
  • Lying asleep in the left inclined position: Tilting the left side during sleep is the best position to avoid putting pressure on the lower aortic vein (which is a large vein that brings blood from the lower part of the body back to the heart). The result will be even better if the pillow is added under the legs to slightly raise the leg.
  • Use pressure socks: Your doctor may recommend wearing supportive pants or socks during the day for pregnant women.
  • Daily physical activity: Walking, stationary bike cycling, or stride swimming are very good physical activities for pregnant women.
  • Standing in the water or walking underwater (in the pool): There is currently little research on the use of water pressure in cases where the legs are suitable, but it seems that standing or walking underwater has the effect of putting pressure on the tissues in the legs and can reduce temporary swelling during pregnancy.
  • Wear generous clothing: Tight clothing can limit the flow of blood vessels, so it is not recommended to wear tight pants and socks on the twin muscle area on the shin.
  • Follow a balanced, nutrient-rich diet, reduce the amount of sodium obtained, increase the use of potassium-rich foods and limit the consumption of foods and drinks with caffeine-containing ingredients.

Some studies suggest methods of foot massage and acupressure (essentially putting pressure on certain areas of the foot) can help reduce leg edema and ankle edema during pregnancy. Reducing the amount of drinking water is not useful in the prevention of foot edema during pregnancy. As recommended by the American Academy of Medicine, pregnant women need to drink about 2.4 liters of water per day.


Gentle exercise helps pregnant women limit leg edema during pregnancy

Leg edema during pregnancy is a medical condition many pregnant women suffer, this symptom can be self-help but also a sign of dangerous pathology that needs early intervention. To protect the health of both mother and baby throughout pregnancy as well as limit complications caused by foot edema, you should choose package maternity care programs at reputable medical facilities.

Obstetrics and Gynecology Department – Share99 International Health Hub is highly appreciated by pregnant women for the quality of service, professional qualifications of doctors, facilities and professionalism. Share99 offers pregnant women a diverse package of maternity care programs that help protect you comprehensively before – during – after birth.

Share99 Obstetrics and Gynecology Department is closely associated with other specialties such as dermatology, endo noisy, cardiovascular, digestive … so when you have diseases during pregnancy, you are monitored, examined, treated comprehensively. If you need to see, treat and use the package maternity care program at Share99, please make an reservation directly at the website or contact the hotline for detailed advice.

For direct advice, please click hotline number or register online HERE. In addition, you can register for remote consultation HERE

Source: nhs.uk/ healthline.com/ americanpregnancy.org


  • What causes you to have leg edema
  • Causes of body edema
  • How to reduce leg edema during pregnancy

About: Minh Quynh

b1ffdb54307529964874ff53a5c5de33?s=90&d=identicon&r=gI am the author of Share99.net. I had been working in Vinmec International General Hospital for over 10 years. I dedicate my passion on every post in this site.


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