Swollen Feet after Pregnancy: Causes and Home Treatments

Written by: Gabriela Alvarado

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Time to read 6 min

If you have given birth recently, you may have noticed that your feet are swollen and puffy. This is a common condition called postpartum edema. It’s usually harmless and temporary, but it can cause discomfort and affect your mobility.


Read on to learn more about postpartum edema and how to alleviate it faster so you can start enjoying your postpartum period! 

How Do I Reduce Swelling in My Feet after Giving Birth?

Having swollen feet after pregnancy is a normal phenomenon. During pregnancy, hormones such as progesterone can cause water retention, which leads to increased blood volume and bloating. It takes some time for these hormones to go back to their pre-pregnancy levels.


Swelling due to extra fluid buildup is more common in ankles and feet because gravity pushes the excess fluid downward. This fluid retention is increased by IV fluids received during birth, especially if you’ve had a C-section.


To alleviate swelling after giving birth, it’s crucial to prioritize rest and elevate your legs whenever possible. One way to do this is to rest in a recliner chair that helps you keep your feet up.


The Nurture& Glider is a great option for new moms who want to relax comfortably during their postpartum recovery. This glider ’s adjustable backrest and footrest helps you find the optimal position to reduce swelling and improve blood circulation.

What Is Postpartum Swelling or Postpartum Edema?

Postpartum swelling or edema refers to the excess water or fluid retention that some women experience after giving birth or during C-section recovery. During the first week after childbirth, this excess fluid is gradually eliminated through urination and sweating.


Postpartum edema isn’t usually a cause for concern, as it typically resolves within a few days or weeks.

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Other Causes of Postpartum Swelling

Apart from excess fluid, there are other less common issues that can cause postpartum swelling:

Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the rectum or anus that can cause pain, itching, bleeding or discomfort during bowel movements. They’re often caused by increased pressure on the pelvic area during pregnancy or childbirth.


They usually improve on their own within a few weeks after delivery, but you can ease the symptoms by applying ice packs, using over-the-counter creams or suppositories, taking a warm bath, and eating high-fiber foods.

Breast Engorgement

Breast engorgement is when your breasts become swollen, hard, and painful due to an oversupply of milk or poor drainage during lactation. It can make breastfeeding difficult and increase the risk of infection.


Some measures you can take to prevent or relieve this issue are:

  • Breastfeed your baby frequently and on-demand, or use a pump when your breasts become too full.

  • Massage your breasts gently before and during feedings.

  • Apply warm compresses.

  • Take warm baths before feedings whenever you can.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis is a serious condition in which a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins in your body, usually in the legs. It can cause swelling, pain, warmth and redness in the affected area. This issue is more common in postpartum and pregnant women than in non-pregnant women due to an increased blood volume and other clotting factors.


The best way to prevent it is to move as soon as possible after delivery, wear compression stockings, drink plenty of water and avoid crossing your legs for long periods of time.

Swollen Feet

Postpartum Preeclampsia or High Blood Pressure

Postpartum preeclampsia is a serious but rare condition that can develop after delivery, even if you didn’t have preeclampsia during pregnancy.


Preeclampsia causes high blood pressure and increases the amount of protein in urine, and it can damage your organs if left untreated.Its most common symptoms are swelling, headaches, vision changes, nausea, vomiting, and seizures.


According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), postpartum preeclampsia can occur up to six weeks after delivery, so make sure you monitor your blood pressure regularly and report any new symptoms to your OB/GYN.

Infection

Infections are another possible cause of postpartum swelling, especially if you’ve had a C-section or an episiotomy . Infection can cause fever, swelling, redness, warmth, pus and pain in the wound site. It can also spread to other parts of your body and cause serious complications.


Remember to:

  • Always keep your C-section or episiotomy wound clean and dry, and change the dressing as instructed by your obstetrics and gynecology specialist.

  • Take antibiotics as prescribed.

  • Watch for signs of infection.

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7 Home Remedies for Postpartum Swelling

Postpartum swelling is usually a harmless condition, but it can cause discomfort, pain, and it can make it difficult for you to move around. These home remedies can help you get rid of the excess fluid faster and fully enjoy this time with your new baby:

Keep Your Feet High

One of the simplest ways to reduce swelling is to elevate your feet on a pillow or a footrest whenever you lie down. Keep them above the level of your heart: this helps fluid flow back to the rest of the body and prevents it from pooling in your ankles and feet. If your hands and fingers are swollen, raise them above your head when you’re resting.

Drink Water

It may sound counterintuitive, but drinking more water can actually help you lose water weight, since dehydration makes your body hold on to more fluid. Water also helps flush out waste products and toxins from your body, which speeds up your recovery after pregnancy.

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Perform Light Exercise

Moving around can increase blood flow and prevent fluid from stagnating in your tissues. You can try walking, gentle yoga, swimming or pilates, as long as your healthcare provider considers it’s safe for you to do so.

Avoid Standing for Too Long

Standing for long periods of time can worsen your swelling by increasing the gravitational force on your legs and feet. Take frequent breaks to sit down and elevate your feet when you need to spend time standing. Also, remember to use comfortable shoes and socks that don’t constrict your blood flow.

Wear Compression Stockings

Compression stockings are tight-fitting socks that apply pressure on your legs and ankles. They can help reduce swelling by preventing fluidbuildup in your lower limbs. You can buy them at pharmacies or online stores, but make sure you get the right size and pressure level for your needs.

swollen feet

Eat Less Sodium and More Potassium

To reduce swelling, limit your intake of sodium-rich foods, such as processed meats, canned soups, chips, and sauces. Instead, eat potassium-rich foods , such as bananas, avocados, potatoes, spinach and yogurt.

Improve Blood Circulation with a Massage

A massage can be a relaxing and effective way to reduce swelling and pain in your legs and feet. It can stimulate blood flow and lymphatic drainage, which can remove excess fluid. Remember to use gentle strokes, and avoid applying too much pressure on swollen areas.

When Should I Worry About Swollen Feet After a C-Section?

A C-section can cause more swelling than a vaginal delivery because of the tissue damage caused by the surgery and the IV fluids delivered during the procedure. This swelling can last for a few weeks, and it’s not a cause for concern unless:

  • It lasts longer than six weeks.

  • It’s severe or sudden.

  • You have other symptoms. such as fever, redness, warmth or pain in one leg.

  • Parts of your body other than your lower extremities are affected.

If you notice any of these signals, call your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

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When to Consult Your Healthcare Provider

Postpartum swelling is usually nothing to worry about and should go away on its own within a week or so. However, you should seek medical advice if:

  • You have a history of high blood pressure, kidney disease or liver disease.

  • You had preeclampsia or eclampsia during pregnancy.

  • You’re experiencing bad headaches, dizziness, blurry vision, or swelling in your face and hands.

  • You feel shortness of breath, chest pain or difficulty breathing.

  • You have redness, warmth or pain in one leg.

  • There’s foul odor or discharge in your incision site.

If you have any of these symptoms or conditions, don’t ignore them or delay seeking medical attention. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent complications and speed up your recovery.


Nurture& Gliders not only improve your breastfeeding experience; they can also help you relieve postpartum discomforts such as swollen feet and back pain. Check out our online store!

L. Elizabeth Forry

Medically reviewed: Gabriela Alvarado

Medical surgeon with certifications from Imperial College London and Johns Hopkins University. Committed to medical excellence, she has conducted several academic research projects that have contributed to the advancement of the field.

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