How to Reduce Swelling (Edema) Quickly After Pregnancy
During pregnancy, your body retains more water and you may experience swelling in the ankles, feet, legs and elsewhere 1. This swelling, called edema, should naturally recede after childbirth as your body loses the excess fluids. Take steps to help minimize the effects of swelling as your body returns to its pre-pregnancy condition.
Drink lots of water. Oddly enough, this will help your body retain less fluid. Staying hydrated, especially while breastfeeding, is essential while caring for a newborn.
Eat nutritious foods. Follow a balanced diet that excludes foods high in salt, which encourages bloating, and includes raw fruits and vegetables.
Do mild exercises, which can help reduce edema 12. Go for walk, attend a yoga class or do simple stretches at home. If you have more energy, go swimming or participate in a water aerobics class, which will include exercises that are gentle on swollen joints.
When sitting, at home or at work, prop up your feet on a stack of books or a foot stool. If sitting or standing for extended periods of time, take a break to walk around, lie down or just stretch your legs.
- Lie on your left side. Pressure on a major artery on the right side of your body (the vena cava) can cause blood to pool in tissues in your feet, ankles and legs. Avoid further comprising your vena cava by lying on your left side rather than your right.
- Limit your salt intake, although don't ban it from your diet completely (you do need it for your increased blood supply during pregnancy).
- If still pregnant, keep an eye out for preeclampsia. Warning signs of preeclampsia include sudden swelling of the wrists, hands and face. If you suspect preeclampsia, phone your doctor immediately.
- If your one leg, foot or ankle swells significantly more than the other side, it may include a blood clot. Be sure to phone your doctor immediately.
- Swelling may be worse for summer pregnancies.
- Don't cross your legs when sitting.
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