Postpartum Oedema – Causes, Signs and Remedies

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Postpartum Oedema - Causes, Signs and Remedies

During pregnancy, women go through many physical changes. You might be waiting for the time to just get done with it so that you can get back to your normal lifestyle. You might be thinking that once this phase is over everything is going to fall into place.

However, that is not true. Even after pregnancy, you can still encounter various problems in the first few months. One of the main issues that women encounter after pregnancy is postpartum oedema.

What is Postpartum Oedema

Postpartum oedema is a condition that women go through right after pregnancy. This can take place in the form of swelling around the face, ankles, and belly. There are times when this condition can spread to the hands and legs as well. The swelling can sometimes be painful making the situation unpleasant. Postpartum oedema is extremely common in pregnant women.

Causes of Postpartum Swelling

There are quite a few reasons why postpartum oedema occurs in the pregnant women such as:

1. Hormones

Progesterone is a hormone that is produced in large quantities during pregnancy. This can cause the body to retain sodium and water which leads to swelling.

2. Uterus Expansion

During pregnancy, the uterus expands and puts pressure on the nearby veins which cause restriction of fluids in the body. This can lead to swelling of hands and ankles.

3. IV Fluids

IV fluids are used during labour to prevent dehydration. However, it can also lead to an inflammation and is likely to happen after a caesarian birth.

4. Milk Buildup

The milk will begin to accumulate in your breasts and can often be painful due to the nerve endings present.

Woman with milk buildup talking to doctor

Symptoms of Swelling After Pregnancy

Some of the symptoms of a postpartum oedema are,

  • Swollen hands and feet
  • Weight gain
  • Swollen ankles
  • Puffy skin

Does Swelling Go Away on Its Own

After pregnancy, if you notice swelling in your arms, feet and other parts of the body, don’t panic as it will go away on its own. At most, it might be over in a couple of weeks. The process of swelling up happens in most women because of fluids that remain in the body.

What is the Treatment for Post Pregnancy Oedema

Post pregnancy oedema is a natural process and so does not need to be treated medically. However, if the situation gets worse, you need to consult a doctor since it could be a sign of other health complications. If not, you can try out simple treatments at home which will reduce swelling and pain.

What Can You Do to Reduce Post Pregnancy Swelling

Some home remedies for swollen feet after pregnancy are listed below:

1. Massage

Give yourself a soothing massage as this helps with blood flow that eventually soothes the pain.

2. Exercise

Doing exercise is a great way to get back to your normal form and also to reduce swelling.

3. Drink Lots of Water

Water helps flush out excess fluid in the body thus reducing swelling. A lot of people think that if you drink water, there will be more fluid in the body. However, that is incorrect as water only helps heal post pregnancy swelling by removing excess fluids.

4. Eat Fruits

Eating fruits can be helpful as many fruits have anti-inflammatory properties. Eating fruits will help you increase metabolism and can give you a healthy diet which will eventually help in the healing.

5. Eat Protein Rich Food

Low protein in the body is a reason for swelling, and so it really helps if you start adding high protein food in your diet.

6. Keep Away from Processed & Fast Food

Avoid processed and fast food as they have high levels of sodium as it leads to the retention of fluids within the body.

No processed and fast food

7. Elevate Your Feet and Hands

Elevate your hands and feet regularly to help in better blood circulation which eventually helps to reduce the swollen parts of the body.

8. Avoid Being Stationary

Body movement matters a lot when it comes to blood circulation. Sitting and standing in the right way helps reduce swelling as allows for better blood flow.

9. Rest Well

Avoid exerting yourself when your body is swollen and you are experiencing pain. Rest it out if things get too much.

10. Soak Your Feet

Soaking your feet in warm water can help soothe the pain and reduce swelling.

11. Do Yoga in the Morning

Yoga is yet another great stress and pain reliever. It helps in better circulation of the blood leading to less swelling in the body.

12. Herbal Tea

Herbal tea like the dandelion tea is really good to reduce swelling as it does not allow fluids to remain in the body.

Woman drinking herbal tea

13. Reflexology

This is a great way to soothe those aching muscles. Reflexology is calming and helps a lot when there is pain and swelling in the feet.

14. Cabbage Leaves

Placing cabbage leaves in the swollen area help reduce the pain and the discomfort as it draws out the fluids that cause the swelling.

15. Avoid Tight Clothes

When you are having pain and swelling, allow your body to breathe easily by wearing loose clothes that are more comfortable.

16. Avoid Heavy Exercises

Exercising is definitely a great way to healing and causes relief for swollen feet after pregnancy. But too much exercise or heavy exercise can lead to inadvertently causing body ache that can make things worse.

17. Wear Socks to Support

The clothes you wear make a lot of difference. Wearing socks that do not have tight elastic but are supportive can help relieve postnatal oedema.

18. Relaxing Bath

A relaxing bath in warm water along with soothing oils is helpful. Ask your doctor about which oils are safe to use before you go ahead. Avoid those which you know may cause an allergic reaction.

Woman having a relaxing bath

How to Deal With Incision Swelling After Giving Birth

During a C-section delivery, there are increased chances of you have leg swelling after pregnancy. If such cases, you can use an ice compressor or even take a shower in warm water to reduce the pain. Avoid bath lotions if your stitches haven’t fully healed.

When Should You Start to Be Worried About Postpartum Oedema

Postpartum oedema is not a disease or sickness to be worried about. Usually, it goes down in a week’s time. Very rarely does the condition last for weeks. However, in the following cases, you may need to seek medical help.

1. Lasts Several Weeks

If your oedema lasts for several weeks, it is best to consult a doctor. You can try out various methods separately to help reduce the pain.

2. Unbearable Pain

The pain may be excruciating and you may need some form of pain relief. In your weakened state, it is not a good idea to start popping pills on your own.

3. Breathing Problems

This can be a sign of an impending congestive heart failure. You will need to immediately go to the doctor if this is the case.

How to Prevent Post Pregnancy Oedema

The swelling that happens after pregnancy is natural. However, there are some ways to prevent post pregnancy swelling. Although these are helpful, they might not work for some women. The preventions methods are

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Avoid standing stationary
  • Avoid drinking caffeine
  • Do mild post pregnancy work-outs
  • Do not skip on your postpartum rest

FAQs

1. Will my feet ever get back to the size they were before pregnancy?

If you are panicking assuming that your feet will never get back to its shape, then you are wrong. The swelling that happens right after pregnancy is a natural process that happens because there is excess liquid in the body. Over time, your feet will be back to their natural form.

The journey of being pregnant and even after being pregnant will have challenges because of all the transition you are going through. While you are going through a lot, swellings and pain can only make the transition more difficult. However, it is a common condition that many women undergo after their pregnancy. Hence, stay calm and prepared. By following the steps mentioned above, the pain can be managed or even avoided.

Also Read: Postpartum Preeclampsia

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