Your pregnancy and baby guide
Swollen ankles, feet and fingers in pregnancy
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It's normal to get some swelling in pregnancy, particularly in your legs, ankles, feet and fingers.
It's often worse at the end of the day and further into your pregnancy.
Swelling that comes on gradually isn't usually harmful to you or your baby, but it can be uncomfortable.
A sudden increase in swelling can be a sign of pre-eclampsia, a condition that affects some pregnant women, usually during the second half of pregnancy (from around 20 weeks) or soon after the birth.
Non-urgent advice: Call your midwife, GP or labour ward immediately if you have:
- a sudden increase in swelling in your face, hands or feet
- a very bad headache
- problems with your vision, such as blurring or flashing lights in your eyes
- severe pain just below your ribs
- vomiting with any of these symptoms
These could be symptoms of pre-eclampsia, which can lead to serious complications if it's not monitored and treated.
Normal pregnancy swelling
Swelling is caused by your body holding more water than usual when you're pregnant.
Throughout the day the extra water tends to gather in the lowest parts of the body, especially if the weather is hot or you have been standing a lot.
The pressure of your growing womb can also affect the blood flow in your legs. This can cause fluid to build up in your legs, ankles and feet.
Things you can do to avoid and ease swelling
- avoid standing for long periods
- wear comfortable shoes and socks – avoid tight straps or anything that might pinch if your feet swell
- try to rest with your feet up as much as you can
- drink plenty of water – this helps your body get rid of excess water
- exercise – try to take regular walks during the day or doing foot exercises
You can do foot exercises sitting or standing. They improve blood circulation, reduce swelling in the ankles, and prevent cramp in the calf muscles:
- bend and stretch your foot up and down 30 times
- rotate each foot in a circle 8 times one way and 8 times the other way
Get more tips on exercising in pregnancy.
Read more about common pregnancy problems.
Page last reviewed: 04/10/2019
Next review due: 04/10/2022