Why Are My Feet Swelling After Delivery?
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Why Are My Feet Swelling After Delivery?

After childbirth, some fluid remains in the body tissue. These fluids, when in excess, results in a condition known as edema. Edema leads to weight gain, swollen ankles, hands, or feet.

After childbirth, some fluid remains in the body tissue. These fluids, when in excess, results in a condition known as edema. Edema leads to weight gain, swollen ankles, hands, or feet.

This swelling may sometimes lead to inflamed and stretched skin, and the external part of your skin may look shiny or puffy.

Many women experience mild postpartum edema after childbirth. This is because as your body is preparing for delivery, it retains water to enable the body tissue to conform to your baby's growth. After childbirth, this fluid becomes eliminated naturally.

Some women also experience swelling around the incision area after cesarean delivery.

Presently, edema's primary cause hasn't been established, but a change in progesterone and estrogen has been suggested to contribute to it.

How long do edema symptoms last?

postpartum edema

The symptoms of edema increase when you stand for too long, especially when the weather is hot. However, symptoms often disappear a week after birth. By this time, the kidney can easily process and remove excess fluids from the body. But then, many mothers experience swelling feet, hands, or ankles several weeks after giving birth.

Engaging in mild exercises, eating a healthy diet, and wearing compression socks are some of the ways of controlling edema. They also contribute to speeding up the process and helping your body recover faster.

When Does Postpartum Edema Become a Problem?

Postpartum edema becomes a problem when you start experiencing pain and discomfort. Frequent headaches or pains in the affected areas may be a sign of high blood pressure.

Experiencing pains in just one part of the body may also be a result of a blood clot. In such circumstances, seeing a physician immediately becomes vital.

In severe cases, edema becomes a problem when you have preexisting eclampsia. Common symptoms of preeclampsia include abdominal pain, swelling, migraines, rapid weight gain, nausea and vomiting, and swollen face.

Even though postpartum swelling isn't what you should worry about in most cases, you should consult your medical practitioner as soon as you experience this to know the treatment options for you.

What causes postpartum swelling?


During pregnancy, the body produces almost fifty percent more fluids and blood than the usual amount to help your baby grow well.

These extra fluids help prepare your body to accommodate your baby as it develops and grows in your womb. It also helps prepare your pelvis tissues and joints for the stretching that takes place during delivery. These fluids also contribute to about 25% of the weight you gain during pregnancy.

The pushing that occurs during labor can force these extra liquids to other parts of your body, making them swell. Giving birth through cesarean delivery can also make the IV (intravenous fluids) result in edema or postpartum swelling.

Other notable causes of postpartum swelling include:

  • Standing upright for too long
  • Hot weather
  • Stressful activities
  • Consuming foods high in sodium and caffeine content
  • Eating diets that have a low amount of potassium

Generally, minor swelling shouldn't be a cause for concern. It becomes a problem when it is accompanied by:

  • Foul odor
  • Severe pain
  • Discharge
  • Fever
  • Redness

These symptoms are signs of an infection, and you should contact your doctor when you experience them. Swollen hands and feet may be pretty uncomfortable, but it shouldn't cause you pain. Discolored feet or legs could also be a sign of deep vein thrombosis, which can be very dangerous to your health.

In all, always remember that postpartum swelling or edema is completely normal after delivery. It only becomes a problem when you don't get relief from pain or the swelling after a few days or other uncomfortable conditions accompany it.

How to Treat Postpartum Swelling

foot therapy

Relax After Birth

Usually, postpartum edema will eventually go away, but you need a lot of rest to make this faster.

Do not stand too long, and don't cross your legs while sitting to reduce circulation. Move your legs upwards above your heart for about twenty minutes every day to ensure easy circulation and reduce swelling.

If you can't avoid being on your feet, try to take breaks from time to time and elevate your feet to improve circulation.

Eat healthy foods

Consume more foods that are rich in potassium, like sweet potatoes and bananas. Protein-rich foods like veggies, fruits, and complex carbs, and onion and garlic can also help in better circulation. Avoid junk foods and high sodium foods at all costs.

Other foods you can add to your diet to help in circulation include tomatoes, broccoli, and strawberries, which are vitamin C sources. Sunflower seeds, wheat germ, and almonds also increase your vitamin E level.

Drink Lots of Water

Another way to get fluids out of your body is by drinking lots of water. With this, you will urinate often, and the retained fluids will be removed in the process. You can add citrus fruits, cucumbers, apples, or lemons to the water to make it faster.

Get a Massage

If you do not feel much pain, get your partner to massage your feet and legs gently. You can also try acupuncture treatment for improved circulation, and internal energy rebalance.

Avoid Getting Too Hot

Too much heat can worsen your condition and increase swelling. So, keep your body temperature cool throughout the day. Choose shady spots for relaxation. Swim if you have a pool to get comfort from postpartum swelling

Use Compression Stockings

Sometimes, compression stockings can help reduce swelling in the lower part of the body. For best results, put on compression socks every morning.

Wear Comfortable Clothes and Shoes

Avoid high heels or any clothes that will cause tightness around your ankles and wrists. Rather, choose clothes that are looser to ease circulation.

Avoid processed foods

Many processed foods can cause bloating and increase swelling because of their high level of sodium content. Also, reduce your sugar and table salt intake.

Use cold compresses

Use cold compresses on your hands, feet, and other swollen areas to reduce swelling.

Get Moving

Engage in light excesses to improve circulation. Although, it's best to speak with your doctor before starting any exercise program.


Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Nadia Rumbolt

Nadia Rumbolt is a mom of many trades, including creative writing, blogging, van life, minimalism, veganism, the beach, nature, and the occult.

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