Swollen legs, and sometimes also the hands, occurs during pregnancy as a result of edema or water retention. During a pregnancy, there are some big changes occurring in the expectant mother’s body and some of which will become apparent as cases of edema. The main cause of edema is water retention in the tissues of the body. During pregnancy, the most frequent parts of the body where fluid can quickly build up include the feet, ankles and also the hands.
Fluid retention is very common in pregnant women and it can cause a fairly moderate level of discomfort. The normal circulation of blood from the vein which connects the legs to the heart is easily disturbed because of the increases strain of pregnancy. This often results in the blood beginning to accumulate in some areas and eventually the liquid from the blood will build up in the tissues of a localised area such as the ankles. This causes the ankles to appear puffy and swollen.
Water retention is a common complaint among pregnant women especially in the final phase of pregnancy. Often, the pregnant women complain of thick legs and ankles, a bloated face and every now and then swollen hands and fingers. Pregnant women can take some reassurance that they are not alone and many other women also experience this water retention.
The water in the legs is not there to begin with, but usually occurs only in late pregnancy. This is generally because the uterus is getting bigger and with time begins pressing on the pelvis, making the flow of blood more difficult. The connective tissue is very compliant and therefore the water collects there. The legs and ankles can look normal in the morning but by the evening can be quite swollen until the end of the day. Standing for long periods and hot temperatures can also increase the swelling.
If in addition to the water retention you also suffer from dizziness, headache, tinnitus, or pain in the upper abdominal region occur, you should consult your doctor or midwife urgently. These are signs of pre-pre-eclampsia, which can pose a threat to life for you and your unborn child.