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Is It Normal to Have a Swollen Ankle During Pregnancy?

Alicia Sparks
Alicia Sparks

Many pregnant women experience edema, a condition that occurs when the body’s tissues retain more fluid than usual. Therefore, a certain amount of ankle swelling is common during pregnancy. Pregnant women can take several steps to minimize ankle swelling, which vary from diet and wardrobe changes to keeping the ankles active and elevated. It is when a woman experiences only one swollen ankle during pregnancy that she should see her doctor. The presence of one swollen ankle during pregnancy can indicate a treatable condition such as an ankle injury or a more urgent condition such as preeclampsia.

It’s common to experience ankle swelling during pregnancy, especially during the third trimester. This is because many pregnant women experience edema. Edema is a condition characterized by excessive fluid buildup in a person’s tissue.

A person with a swollen ankle.
A person with a swollen ankle.

For pregnant women, factors like water retention and blood chemistry changes cause the tissue to obtain and retain more fluid. Also, a pregnant woman might experience edema when her growing uterus obstructs the blood circulation in her legs. The vena cava, which is the large vein on the right side of the woman’s body, is responsible for carrying blood from the woman’s lower extremities back to her heart. As the uterus grows, it puts pressure on the vena cava and slows the blood’s return. This causes the blood to linger and pushes fluid from the veins into the tissue of her ankles and feet.

Many pregnant women experience ankle swelling.
Many pregnant women experience ankle swelling.

A pregnant woman can minimize ankle swelling with a combination of elevation, movement, diet, and proper-fitting clothes and footwear. For example, the woman can keep her feet and legs elevated whenever she’s sitting or lying down. She can also refrain from sitting or standing for long periods of time. The pregnant woman should avoid any tight-fitting pants, socks, hosiery, or shoes that can further promote poor circulation. Eating a well-balanced diet and drinking plenty of water can decrease ankle swelling, too.

While ankle edema is common among pregnant women, generally it is characterized by both ankles being swollen. Typically, only one swollen ankle during pregnancy is not normal. This is especially true if the swollen ankle is painful or the woman experiences calf or leg tenderness.

If a woman experiences only one swollen ankle during pregnancy, she could be suffering from an ankle injury, such as a broken or sprained ankle. She could also be suffering from preeclampsia, which means her blood pressure is high and there is protein in her urine. Preeclampsia can be mild or severe, depending on when in the pregnancy she develops it. The condition only goes away with the birth of the baby, a factor that can cause problems if the woman develops preeclampsia several weeks or even months before her due date. To protect the woman’s health and the health of her baby, she should see her doctor as soon as she discovers the swollen ankle.

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Discussion Comments


@literally45-- I agree with you.

I'm not a doctor so I'm not sure about this. But I think that a few other conditions that require treatment may cause swollen ankles during pregnancy as well. I think, for example, kidney issues could cause symptoms like swollen ankles and feet and itching. I guess it occurs because the kidneys do not filter properly.

I don't mean to alarm anyone. If swelling isn't serious or frequent, it's probably normal. But chronic swollen ankles should probably taken seriously as a symptom.

A close friend of mine actually had kidney issues during her pregnancy and the only symptom she had was severe and persistent itching. Especially her palms and the soles of her feet were very itchy. She couldn't sleep at night from itching. She saw her doctor and her blood tests showed that her kidney function was off. She delivered early for this reason and everything turned out well because she didn't brush off her symptom and took it seriously.


High blood pressure does cause water retention in the body. This is why women with swollen ankles during pregnancy ought to see their doctor. Preeclampsia is not dangerous if it is diagnosed and blood pressure is brought under control. Otherwise, it can have serious consequences. It's always a good idea to be on the safe side and have the doctor run any routine tests to make sure that everything is in order.


I had mildly swollen ankles often during my pregnancy. It usually occurred when I stood up a lot. I guess due to my weight, my feet got tired faster. I was worried at first but my mother told me that she had the same thing when she was pregnant with me and that it's normal.

Foot soaks and elevating the feet are great for swelling. And of course a massage from the hubby if he agrees!

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    • A person with a swollen ankle.
      By: Dusan Kostic
      A person with a swollen ankle.
    • Many pregnant women experience ankle swelling.
      By: yanlev
      Many pregnant women experience ankle swelling.