Left leg swelling when pregnant

Swelling in the left leg is when the left leg is larger in size than normal, and may look different in shape. 

What causes it?

Most women experience some swelling in pregnancy, especially in their feet and ankles. Swelling, also called edema, can happen becacuse the body tends to retain more fluid, and circulation slows down, when a woman is pregnant. Swelling in the left leg may be associated with deep vein thrombosis, which occurs more often in the left leg than the right. Rapid swelling in the left leg may also be associated with preeclampsia or cellulitis. 


If you do not have any other physical symptoms, swelling is typically normal and can be reduced. Try sleeping on your left side to help your circulation. Wear maternity compression socks, reduce the amount of salt in your diet, and when you are sitting or resting, elevate your legs. Make sure you are moving around occasionally, too, because sitting for long periods of time can prevent fluid from moving healthily around the body.

There are some symptoms that, when accompanied by swelling in the left leg, definitely warrant a call to your provider. Because conditions like deep vein thrombosis are more likely to occur in the left leg, it’s a good idea to be aware of swelling on this side. Call your provider right away if the swelling is very large and painful, or if the swelling happens very suddenly. You should also call your provider if your swollen leg is red or warm when you touch it, if you have swelling and a fever, or if you notice swelling and have a history of heart disease, kidney disease, or liver disease.

  • Wee-Shian Chan, et al. “Anatomic distribution of deep vein thrombosis in pregnancy.” CMAJ. 182(7):657-660. Web. Apr 2010.
  • “What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis?” NHLBI. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH, HHS, Oct 28 2011. Web.
  • Geeta K Swamy, MD, et al. “Swelling During Late Pregnancy.” MerckManuals. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp, 2017. Web.
  • Roger W Harms, MD. “What causes ankle swelling during pregnancy – and what can I do about it?” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Aug 5 2014. Web.

Related Topics

Get the Ovia Pregnancy app
Get our app at the Apple App Store Get our app at the Apple App Store Get our app at the Google Play Store Get our app at the Google Play Store