Postpartum Edema: Understanding and Managing Swelling After Birth

After carrying your little one for nine months, you’ve probably gotten used to your body swelling, particularly in your hands, feet, or face. For many moms, this swelling doesn’t stop after they give birth, with many experiencing what is known as postpartum edema, commonly called postpartum swelling. 

At Pumps for Mom, we aim to make your transition into motherhood as seamless as possible. Our experts offer valuable pregnancy and postpartum tips, along with a large selection of top-rated breast pumps and maternity recovery garments, to prepare your mind and body for all that motherhood entails. Below, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide on postpartum edema to help moms identify and treat this condition. 

In this blog, our experts share their ultimate guide to postpartum edema by answering the following questions:

  • What is postpartum edema?
  • What are the signs of postpartum edema?
  • How can I treat postpartum edema? 

What is Postpartum Edema?

Postpartum edema, or postpartum swelling, is pregnancy swelling that continues after the baby is born. Most moms experience the bulk of swelling in their face, hands, feet, and legs. Some may also experience a good bit around their birthing incision in the case of a cesarean delivery. 

Postpartum edema is a result of excess fluid buildup in the body. This buildup accumulates throughout pregnancy, as pregnancy hormones like HCG and estrogen will cause the body to retain more fluids. As a result, moms will experience extra water retention throughout pregnancy and the early postpartum stages. This lingering swelling is completely normal, so don’t be stressed if your body doesn’t bounce back immediately after giving birth. It usually takes a few weeks until hormones can regulate and return to pre-pregnancy levels! 

What are the Signs of Postpartum Edema?

Postpartum edema looks generally the same among all new moms. Typical symptoms include: 

  • Swelling or puffiness around feet and ankles.
  • Stretched-looking skin
  • Skin indentations after applying pressure
  • Fast weight gain 

The symptoms listed above are entirely normal for moms to experience after giving birth. These symptoms will improve on their own, and you’ll notice improvements after the first week.  

There are some cases in which postpartum edema can indicate a more serious medical condition. If you’re experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, excessive swelling of the face and hands, or redness and pain under the skin in one leg, you could have a more serious postpartum complication like deep vein thrombosis, preeclampsia, or an infection. Call a doctor immediately if you’ve noticed these abnormal symptoms within the first few days postpartum. 

How Can I Treat Postpartum Edema? 

For most moms, postpartum edema will last for about one to two weeks after delivery. However, if you’d like to ease your swelling sooner, you can try several natural remedies to ease the discomfort. Below are some of our suggestions on how to treat postpartum edema,

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

You’ll want to hydrate as much as possible during your first few days postpartum. Doing so will do wonders for your swelling, as drinking water will reduce your body’s water retention and ease discomfort. 

Elevate Your Hands and Feet

Elevating your hands and feet will significantly reduce postpartum swelling. Prop your feet on a pillow and raise your hands and fingers when you’re resting to help drain fluid quicker and alleviate pressure on these areas. 

Get Moving

Even if you’re swollen and tired, it’s essential to get moving throughout your first few days of postpartum. We’re not talking about doing a rigorous HITT session or spin class. No! Try a lightweight workout like a walk or yoga session! Getting your body moving will improve blood circulation and immediately decrease postpartum swelling. 

Prioritize Diet 

Diet is super important when it comes to postpartum recovery. You’ll want to avoid eating heavily processed foods, especially those with high sodium. Excessive sodium will cause your body to hold onto fluids more, which is exactly what we don’t want. Instead, prioritize a balanced diet with good sources of lean protein, fresh fruits, and vegetables. 

Use Compression Garments

Compression garments will be a lifesaver when treating postpartum edema. Designed to improve comfort, reduce pain, and speed up the recovery process, postpartum compression items will provide immediate relief for postpartum swelling and pain. If you didn’t know, you can get maternity compression garments free through insurance! Shop Pumps for Mom’s Body After Baby catalog and fill out our form today to get started!

Want to Get a Free Breast Pump Through Insurance? 

Along with your compression garments, you might also want to think about getting a breast pump for your transition into motherhood. Leave it to Pumps for Mom to get you all your mommy essentials through insurance! Our team will connect with your policy provider to supply you with free breast pumps and maternity garments through insurance. Shop our comprehensive catalog of top-rated breast pumps, and head to our form or contact us today to get one through insurance.