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Causes of Hands Swelling During Pregnancy

author image Virginia Franco
Based in Charlotte, N.C., Virginia Franco has more than 15 years experience freelance writing. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including the education magazine "My School Rocks" and Work.com. Franco has a master's degree in social work with an emphasis in health care from the University of Maryland and a journalism degree from the University of Richmond.
Causes of Hands Swelling During Pregnancy
Hand swelling usually begins around the the fifth month of pregnancy. Photo Credit Alex_Beck/iStock/Getty Images


A woman’s body produces additional amounts of blood and body fluids to meet the needs of a growing fetus, and swelling is usually a normal part of this process. While most swelling is nothing to be concerned about, there are some causes of hand swelling during pregnancy that may be a sign of something more serious, or at the very least, may require medical attention.


This additional fluid buildup causes edema, which is the term for swelling and usually occurs during pregnancy. According to the Baby Center website, normal blood chemistry changes cause some of these fluids to shift in your body’s tissues, which can cause swelling in the hands, face, legs and ankles. Edema becomes noticeable usually around the fifth month of pregnancy, and often grows more obvious during the third trimester. Edema is often at its worst at the end of the day, particularly on hot days.


Sudden swelling in the hands, feet, face or ankles, or swelling that is more than slight, can be a sign of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia causes blood vessels to constrict, according to the American Pregnancy website, which leads to high blood pressure and reduced blood flow to vital organs. When the blood vessels constrict, some of the capillaries may begin to leak, which causes the telltale sign of swelling. Preeclampsia is a serious pregnancy condition that can be dangerous and even fatal to both mother and baby if untreated. It is therefore critical to contact a medical professional immediately if these symptoms occur.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Water retention and swelling in the hands can put pressure on the median nerve in the hands and cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause pain, numbness, burning or tingling in the palms, wrist and fingers. BabyPartner website writes that this condition is most aggravated in the morning after fluid has accumulated overnight but usually disappears once the baby is born.

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