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What Causes Leg Swelling During Pregnancy?

Leg swelling during pregnancy is attributed to increased blood volume, a big uterus pushing on the veins of the pelvis, extra weight, genetics, hot weather etc.

All of these combine to make leg swelling an almost inevitable part of pregnancy.

Occasionally we worry about swelling as part of a disease called pre-eclampsia, but if you feel well and your blood pressure is normal, it’s probably just the pregnancy causing it.

One-sided swelling can be worrisome, especially if it’s associated with pain. Talk to your doctor if you get sudden painful swelling in one leg.

Normal swelling of pregnancy can be treated with compression stockings, massage, and elevating your legs.

Here is a detailed description via Healthline on swelling during pregnancy:

During pregnancy, your body does some pretty herculean things, and there’s a lot that, well, increases. One of them is the sheer amount of fluid in your body. While pregnant, your total body water volume can increase by up to 8 liters— that’s over 33 cups!

Meanwhile, your plasma volume leaps 30 to 50, which means your total blood volume increases as well.

So, where does all that fluid go? Good question.

Some of the water stays within your cells to help them function. The rest accumulates outside of your cells to enhance oxygen delivery, clear waste, and control electrolyte flow.

The increase in plasma is in response to the growing needs of the placenta and your maternal organs, as your blood volume increases to deliver all that your baby needs to develop.

As your little one inches closer to birth in the third trimester, your blood volume reaches its peak. Hint: That’s why your swelling (among other slight unpleasantries) can peak around this time.

But that’s not all.

The massive increase in body fluids during pregnancy is coupled with increasing sodium levels. And most of us have seen the effects of what a little too much takeout pizza can do.

Sodium affects how your body absorbs and processes water. Even the slightest rise in sodium may cause you to feel the power of the “puff.”

P.S. It usually gets worse after you deliver, but will gradually improve over the first 2 weeks postpartum.


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