Leg Swelling (Edema) during Pregnancy

Welcome to this symptom guide about ankle and leg swelling during pregnancy.

Almost every pregnant woman has some extra fluid in the tissues. Usually this will be most obvious during the later part of pregnancy, especially if a woman is on her feet for a long period of time.

However, sometimes leg swelling can indicate a complication of pregnancy or be caused by an unrelated problem.

This guide is not intended to replace a face-to-face meeting with a health care professional about your symptoms. Many causes of leg and foot swelling require an in-person examination and testing to diagnose. However, this guide may be particularly helpful while awaiting an office visit or after your initial evaluation.

Okay, let's get started.

The reasons for swelling in just one leg are not the same as the causes of swelling in both legs.

Do you have swelling of just one foot, ankle, and/or leg? (Also answer yes if one side is much more swollen than the other side.)

Yes, the swelling is just on one side.

No, both sides are swollen.

Almost all women have some leg swelling during pregnancy. Usually the swelling is just a little at first, gradually increasing over time. However, sometimes leg swelling in pregnancy can be caused by a condition that requires immediate attention.

If you had sudden onset of swelling in both legs, it may indicate a condition called preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a condition of pregnancy in which a woman develops high blood pressure, spills protein in her urine, and holds on to excess water, causing swelling of the legs and other parts of the body.

Does one or more of the following apply to you?

- The swelling is really bad

- Face and/or hands are also swollen

- New headache

- Visual changes

- Nausea that was not present before

- Vomiting

- Belly pain

Yes, I am having one or more of those symptoms.

No, I do not have any of those symptoms.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »