Pregnancy Swelling: How Much Is Too Much?

I am in my 37th week of my second pregnancy and have severe swelling of my hands and feet. I have no other preeclampsia symptoms. I know that some swelling is normal, but mine is so pronounced in the mornings I can barely close my hands to make a fist. My hands and feet also fall asleep easily. Is this normal?


Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

Edema is a physiologic finding that is present in many normal pregnant women. If it is not accompanied by protein in the urine, a rise in blood pressure, headaches, visual disturbances, abdominal pain, it is unlikely that preeclampsia is the cause. If you did not suffer preeclampsia or hypertensive disease of pregnancy with the first baby, your chances are remote, but still possible.

You want your body to mobilize the fluid so maximizing the output of the kidneys is a good idea. Increasing your intake of fluids and protein and resting on your left side several hours a day . The kidneys work better when you lie on this side due to their position in reference to the pelvic brim. Mild exercise such as walking and stretching will help as well.

Although rare in young women without other symptoms, edema may be present as a result of kidney or heart problems, so it would be wise to ask your provider about this. This is probably normal but it never hurts to monitor for proteinuria and other symptoms which may develop.

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