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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, and various other reasons. Let’s dive in to better explain why this happens.

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 are some of the reasons swelling during pregnancy occurs:

  • Your body begins to retain a lot of fluid. The fluid in your body can increase up to a little over two gallons of body water!
  • Also, your body increases its plasma and blood quite a bit to support the pregnancy.
  • All of this extra fluid does a lot of good for both you and your little one to match the growing needs. It helps support the placenta, increases your oxygen delivery, helps keep your liver and kidneys healthy, and helps to get rid of waste.
  • The increase of blood and plasma can occur all the way through the third trimester to support the growing needs of your baby.

A reason for a lot of the swelling is the increase of sodium in your body that comes along with your body retaining fluid. This extra sodium can definitely cause your legs and other parts of your body to puff up a bit.

P.S. It usually gets worse after you deliver, but will gradually improve over the first two weeks postpartum and should continue to decrease back to normal in the following weeks.

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