Swollen hands and feet in pregnancy
It’s normal to get some swelling in pregnancy, particularly in your legs, ankles, feet and fingers. This is because your body holds more water than usual when you are pregnant. However, swelling can be a sign of a pregnancy condition called pre-eclampsia, which is serious and needs immediate treatment.
You can expect some swelling in your hands and feet during your pregnancy. Swelling that commonly happens in pregnancy:
- is often worse at the end of the day
- happens in late pregnancy
- comes on gradually
- gets better when you lie down
- appears in both feet.
When should I be worried about swelling?
You should call your midwife or hospital maternity unit immediately if you have:
- a sudden increase in swelling in your face, hands or feet
- a very bad headache or a dull headache that won’t go away
- problems with your vision, such as blurring or flashing lights
- severe pain just below your ribs
- feeling sick or vomiting
- feeling unwell.
These could be symptoms of pre-eclampsia, which is a very serious condition that needs immediate treatment. Most cases of pre-eclampsia happen after 24 to 26 weeks and usually towards the end of pregnancy.
“I had swollen hands and feet in my first pregnancy, which was picked up at my antenatal appointment. I was worried it was serious, but it turned out I was just retaining a lot of water. The swelling disappeared after my baby was born.”
Is there anything I can do to ease swollen hands or feet?
These are some things you can do to avoid and ease swelling.
- Avoid standing for a long time if possible.
- Wear comfortable shoes and socks. Avoid tight straps or anything that might pinch if your feet swell.
- When you rest, put your feet up (raise them up above your hips) as much as you can.
- Drink plenty of water – this helps your body get rid of the extra water
- Stay active during pregnancy. For example, try to go for a short walk every day.
High blood pressure and swelling in pregnancy
If you had high blood pressure before pregnancy you should report any swelling to a GP or midwife. This is because people with high blood pressure are more likely to develop pre-eclampsia. It is always best to check.
NHS swollen ankles feet and fingers https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/related-conditions/common-symptoms/swollen-ankles-feet-and-fingers/ (Page last reviewed: 10 March 2021 Next review due: 10 March 2024)
NICE (2019). Hypertension in pregnancy: diagnosis and management. National Institute for health and care excellence https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng133