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Problems With Water Retention During Pregnancy

author image Lori A. Selke
Lori A. Selke has been a professional writer and editor for more than 15 years, touching on topics ranging from LGBT issues to sexuality and sexual health, parenting, alternative health, travel, and food and cooking. Her work has appeared in Curve Magazine, Girlfriends, Libido, The Children's Advocate, Decider.com, The SF Weekly, EthicalFoods.com and GoMag.com.
Problems With Water Retention During Pregnancy
Water retention during pregnancy is also known as pregnancy edema. Photo Credit pojoslaw/iStock/Getty Images


Water retention during pregnancy is properly known as pregnancy edema. It's a common side effect, especially in the third trimester. You may find that your feet and legs swell up over the course of the day; your hands and arms may also be mildly affected. Most pregnancy edema is normal and of no concern, but always check in with your obstetrician just in case.

Edema and Carpal Tunnel

Women who have symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome in their wrists and arms may find that their condition is exacerbated during pregnancy. This is because the excess fluid being retained in your arms puts pressure on already compromised nerves. Fortunately, this effect is transient and should recede once your pregnancy is complete.


Sometimes, excessive water retention is a symptom of a very serious condition called preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a syndrome that presents with symptoms including edema and extremely high blood pressure. It can come on very rapidly and it can be fatal for both you and your baby, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you experience any swelling or water retention in your face, serious swelling of the hands, or sudden or excessive fluid retention in your legs or feet, let your doctor know immediately.

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The remedies for water retention during pregnancy are simple. Drink a lot of water; paradoxically, this helps flush fluid out of your body. Elevate your feet, and try not to spend too much time in one position, whether it be standing or sitting at a desk. Wear comfortable, not-too-tight shoes--you may need to go up a size or width temporarily. Acupuncture may also provide temporary symptomatic relief.

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