Swelling at 20 Weeks?


Dear Midwife,
I just had a check-up earlier this week. I am 20 weeks, and this will be my first to term pregnancy (I hope!). Everything seems to be going well with the pregnancy, but I am concerned with something.

This may seem like a silly question, but most recently, I have been noticing that my legs and feet are beginning to swell. My blood pressure stays around 125/70, which is pretty normal for me. When I asked the student-doctor that saw me, she stated it is only because I am overweight. The only thing is, my regular doctor has not said a thing to me about weight at any appointment.

I do sit at a desk all day, but I get up regularly and walk around. At home, I am busy and don't sit down much. I walk my dogs, I drink my water, etc. I am just wondering if this is something I should be concerned with at just 20 weeks?

Thank you,
One Swellin' Mama


Some women are just more prone to swelling (edema) during pregnancy than others, and yes, they are more commonly overweight. I don't know how overweight you are, but if your BMI is over 30, then you should not have gained more than five pounds so far, and then only an additional 10 pounds for the rest of the pregnancy, for a total of 15 pounds.

You might check the internet and put yourself on a diabetic-type diet, which is a healthy diet, but it is relatively lower in carbs and higher in protein. This can help to reduce swelling for some women. I'd also suggest a good half-hour of exercise each day besides what you mention. Good luck!

-- Cynthia, CNM. PhD.

Cynthia Flynn

Cynthia Flynn, CNM. PhD, is the General Director of the Family Health and Birth Center which provides prenatal, birth, postnatal, gynecological and primary health care to underserved women and their families in Washington, D.C. Recently Cynthia served as Associate Professor of Nursing at Seattle University. There she not only taught, but remained in full scope clinical midwifery practice at Valley Medical Center where she cared for pregnant and birthing women, and practices well-woman gynecology, family planning, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.

Cynthia founded Columbia Women's Clinic and Birth Center, where she took care of pregnant women and infants up to two weeks of age and attended both birth center and hospital births. Before Cynthia earned her CNM, she worked as a registered nurse in labor and delivery and postpartum and is a certified Doula and Doula trainer.