How to Reduce Swelling (Edema) Quickly after Pregnancy

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Swelling after Pregnancy
Postpartum swelling is a common occurrence and usually resolves itself within a week after giving birth. The body retains fluid during pregnancy, resulting in swelling of the hands, legs and feet. IV fluids are usually administered during the course of delivery and childbirth, which can contribute to continued swelling, or edema, after the baby is born. The following tips can help relieve the swelling as your body returns to its pre-pregnancy state.

Drink Plenty of Water
Water will help flush the fluid from your body by promoting frequent urination. Salt contributes to water retention, so avoid eating salty foods. If you?re breastfeeding, it is important to drink additional fluids to remain hydrated.

Slowly incorporate exercise back into your daily routine. Gentle stretching and yoga will help you feel good, and also help your body expel excess fluid. If the weather is pleasant, put your baby in a stroller and take a brisk walk. The fresh air is good for both of you, and walking is great exercise.

Elevate your Legs
Prop your feet up whenever you can. Use a footstool when you are sitting down to increase circulation and decrease pooling of excess fluid in your feet and ankles. Avoid crossing your legs when sitting. Place your feet on pillows when lying down to increase circulation.

Eat a Healthy Diet
Fruits, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy products are always good food choices. Avoid fast food, and eliminate fried foods from the postpartum diet. Processed foods such as bacon, cold cuts, canned soups, and frozen dinners are very high in salt, and should be avoided.

Wear Comfortable Clothing
Avoid clothing that is tight or constricting. Shoes should be comfortable and supportive. You may have to avoid wearing rings and jewelry if you are having trouble with swelling in your hands and fingers.

When to Call the Doctor
Postpartum swelling will usually subside on its own without medical intervention. If you experience severe headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, sudden increased swelling, especially in the face and around the eyes, or pain in the upper abdomen, contact your physician without delay. These can be symptoms of a condition called pre-eclampsia; a serious condition that sometimes occurs during or after pregnancy. If you experience extreme swelling in one leg, redness, or if your leg feels warm to touch, you should contact your physician immediately, as these symptoms could indicate the formation of a blood clot.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "How to Reduce Swelling (Edema) Quickly after Pregnancy," in, September 9, 2013, (accessed August 12, 2022).