Edema During Pregnancy – Symptoms and Management Tips

Simply put, edema means water retention, or when the limbs tend to accumulate an abnormal amount of fluid beneath the skin, causing swelling and discomfort. Edema during pregnancy can be a common problem adding to the existing problems. Here is what you need to know about this condition in order to effectively manage it.

Symptoms to look out for

The typical swelling caused by edema is noticed most often in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy and is generally noted in the ankles and the feet.


Women may notice a puffiness of the ankles and feel and when the skin is pressed a depression could form for a while before the skin is restored to its normal appearance. In most cases, the edema is not very severe and taking rest or putting up the feet will help reduce the swelling and discomfort.

The symptoms may be most noticeable at the end of the day particularly if a woman has not had any time to put her feet up or rest. Warm weather tends to exacerbate the problem.

Sometimes the face may also appear puffy and swollen.

Warning signs that the condition is severe

For most women edema doesn’t need medical treatment and some rest will take care of the problem. However if the swelling extends to the thighs and the genitalia and even the abdomen and other body cavities, then this can no longer be ignored. Swelling in the face and the hands also indicates that the edema is rather severe.

Also severe edema could cause problems such as high blood pressure which can be a dangerous pregnancy complication. Sometimes edema can also cause protein to be detected in the urine which could also be problematic.

How to minimize the discomfort

1. Take the weight off your feet and elevate them to a level above your heart whenever possible during the day. Try and do this at work as well, by lying down for a while.

2. When sitting don’t cross your legs or your ankles; rather stretch out your feet and perform a few foot stretches and ankle rotations.

3. Drink plenty of water.

4. Wear comfortable shoes that don’t pinch; if possible wear a size larger than your foot size. If you wear socks make sure there are no tight elastics or garters that may impede circulation.

5. Balance salt intake – neither too much nor too little.

6. Exercise regularly to keep the swelling in check and so that blood circulation remains normal. Swimming and water aerobics are recommended in particular.