You’ve finally given birth, and as well as getting to know your little one, you’re probably looking forward to getting rid of all the pregnancy symptoms you had. However, you may find some unexpected and strange things are happening to your postpartum body. For example, you may find that you are rushing to the bathroom to pee all the time, and that your feet are swollen up like boats. Don’t panic – having swollen feet after delivery is a common issue, but there are several tips you can use to deal with it.
Is Swollen Feet After Delivery Normal?
Yes it is very normal.
Swelling in your feet after you’ve given birth can be down to both changes to your body from pregnancy and the birth process itself. During pregnancy, you have higher-than-normal levels of the hormone progesterone circulating in your body, which leads to increased water and sodium retention. While this is happening, your uterus is expanding and squeezes against the blood vessels supplying the legs, limiting the flow of blood to your feet, legs, and ankles. This can result in fluid accumulation in your lower body. All this liquid that has built up in pregnancy will take a while to pass out of your body, and won’t disappear immediately after you’ve given birth.
The fluid accumulation is further exacerbated by the birth process. During vaginal delivery, the pushing motion directs blood and other fluids away from the body’s core, which results in the hands, legs, feet, and even face becoming swollen.
When to Worry About Swollen Feet After Delivery?
Although it can be worrying how much you’re swollen up, postpartum swelling is usually nothing to be concerned about, and will resolve with time. However, if you’ve seen no improvement in your symptoms after a week, if your legs are painful, or if you’re suffering from bad headaches, this may be an indication of high blood pressure, so you’ll need to see a healthcare professional to get this checked out. Furthermore, if only one leg or ankle is swollen, and you have intense pain, this could be deep vein thrombosis – a clot in your veins – and you will need immediate medical attention.
Will My Feet Go Back to Pre-Pregnancy Size?
Even after the swelling has eased, you may find that your feet are still larger than they used to be. This may be due to a slackening of the ligaments in your feet during pregnancy, which causes your feet to spread. This swelling may eventually resolve or may not. Either way, you shouldn’t throw away your old shoes and buy new ones until at least a month has passed.
How to Deal with Swollen Feet After Delivery
1. Eat Healthy!
- Make sure you eat a balanced diet, with lean protein (in meat, poultry, eggs, pulses, and beans) included in each meal. You’ll also need to make sure you have at least five daily servings of fruit and vegetables.
- Try to cut back on sugar, fat, and salt. Also avoid processed, pre-packaged food, as this tends to be high in salt and other additives, which can exacerbate fluid retention.
- Improve your blood circulation by eating more onion and garlic.
- Choose foods that are full of vitamins C and E. Vitamin C-rich foods include melon, strawberries, citrus fruit, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, and broccoli. To get the vitamin E you need, go for wheat germ, sweetcorn, cashew nuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, and products made with corn, soy or wheat germ oil.
2. Have More Water
It sounds counter-intuitive, but drink plenty of water. This will help fluid processing in your kidneys. You can also promote good kidney function and increase the amount you pee by eating diuretic foods, such as parsley, celery, watercress, citrus fruit, and apples.
3. Increase Blood Circulation in Legs
- Try to get as much rest and sit down as much as you can. If you work for long periods without sitting down, increase the blood circulation in your legs by shifting your weight from one foot to the other.
- When sitting down, don’t cross your legs, as this inhibits blood circulation.
- To promote fluid drainage from your legs, elevate your feet over your hips by placing them on a stool or tall chair.
4. Make Use of Cabbage Leaves
White or green cabbage leaves can be placed over the swollen region to reduce discomfort by drawing out surplus fluid in the legs. Before using this remedy, wipe clean, but don’t wash the leaves, and cool them in the fridge (not the freezer). Create a compress from the leaves by wrapping them around the worst affected areas. Keep them there until they moisten, then wrap more leaves on the swelling until the discomfort eases.
5. Massage Your Feet
Leg and foot massage is great for your circulation and discouraging fluid build-up if your legs are not too swollen and it’s not too painful.
- You can ask your partner to gently massage you, working in upwards motions from the feet to the knees.
- Use a base oil, for example, grapeseed, but avoid massaging with aromatherapy essential oils.
6. Give Your Feet a Nice Soak
Add some essential oils to a bowl of water to create a relaxing foot soak. To boost blood flow and prevent varicose veins, cypress oil is a good choice. You can also try lavender or chamomile oil for relaxation and relieving discomfort.
7. Other Remedies
- You should always only drink herbal teas in moderation, but some dandelion tea can ease fluid retention. However, you shouldn’t drink this tea if you have problems with your gall bladder.
- Some women find acupuncture to be effective at promoting blood flow and helping kidney function, as well as balancing energy within the body.
- There are many reasons you should not smoke when pregnant; increased swelling is one of these