What Is Pre-Eclampsia?


I’m 30 weeks pregnant, why are my face and legs getting so puffy every day?


Congratulations for getting to this stage of your journey. Unfortunately, the puffiness is a common feature of the second half of pregnancy, and is the result of a number of factors. The ankle swelling is partly due to standing upright, and will often settle overnight. Ankle and face puffiness can also be caused by the change in the way the kidney filters protein from the blood. Both of these causes are normal and harmless (if less than flattering).

The most serious reason for puffiness is related to a condition called pre-eclampsia. This is the result of abnormal changes occurring in the placenta, which cause the mother’s kidneys and liver to function poorly and blood pressure to rise . Other symptoms include abdominal pain around the right lower ribs, headaches, nausea and blurred vision. In extreme cases it can cause maternal convulsions, which is known as toxemia of pregnancy or eclampsia and fortunately is uncommon. These more serious conditions are treatable if found early, which is one of the reasons we monitor a mother’s blood pressure throughout her pregnancy.

For the harmless causes of ankle puffiness, resting with legs elevated and support stockings can help. If the puffiness persists, patience is recommended, as it all seems to resolve about three days after the birth. The ankles and face return to normal, a lot of urine is passed, and the breastmilk comes in.

Dr. Alanna Horadam Principal, Cremorne Medical Practice 

This article appeared in The Ticket in the August 2015 issue of CHILD Mags




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