Rapid swelling during pregnancy

Swelling is the retention of fluid in a part of the body, and is pretty common during pregnancy. If the swelling is very rapid however, it may be a sign of certain complications.

What causes rapid swelling?

Blood volume increases by up to 50% during pregnancy, and quantities of other fluids in your body rise as well. Swelling is the result of this extra fluid in your body accumulating in certain areas of the body. Some swelling is normal and expected during pregnancy.

On the other hand, swelling that occurs very quickly may be a sign of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is marked by high blood pressure, symptoms like rapid swelling, headaches, and vision changes, and protein in the urine, and is a very serious pregnancy complication. The only way to “cure” preeclampsia is for a woman to give birth, so doctors often induce preeclamptic women at around 37 weeks.


It’s important to contact your healthcare provider if you notice rapid swelling at any point in your pregnancy. Your healthcare provider can let you know if the swelling is normal, but because of the risks involved with preeclampsia, it’s always a good idea to let your provider know about this symptom.

  • “Is it just a pregnancy symptom or something more?” Preeclampsia. Preeclampsia Foundation, Mar 2016. Web. Accessed 6/28/17. Available at https://www.preeclampsia.org/health-information/sign-symptoms/.
  • “Causes and Signs of Edema.” NCBI. NIH, US National Library of Medicine, Dec 2016. Web. Accessed 6/28/2016. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072593/. 
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