How To Cure Postpartum Edema - Check Out These Tips
Created by Janaki Srinivasan Updated on Feb 18, 2018
As moms-to-be near the delivery date, they get restless and anxious because they can’t wait to hold their bundle of joy in their arms and more than that they are eager to get back to their normal, usual self. And after delivery when they return home, they notice swelling in the arms, legs, feet, ankles and even in the face and belly. Now what’s that? Well…this condition is referred to as postpartum edema. Let’s start by getting to know what it is, what causes it and finally how to get rid of it.
Postpartum Edema—What Are the Causes?
When you’re pregnant your body is overstrained. During this time the body retains extra fluid that increases your blood volume to about 50 percent. Changes during pregnancy and delivery exert pressure on the extremities and cause swelling. How?
- Due to expansion of the uterus to make more room for the growing baby
- Increased production of progesterone during pregnancy, which increase sodium and water retention
- Vaginal birth causes more fluids to reach the extremities
- Medication and anesthesia administered through IV can also cause an increase in the body fluids
Post-delivery, this fluid is gradually eliminated through urine and sweat, though some of it can leak through into the tissues and cause swelling of the feet, ankles and other parts of the body. This is not a cause for worry as it naturally goes away in a week’s time, except if you had pre-eclampsia, it could last a little longer.
Symptoms of Postpartum Edema?
Ideally, you’ll notice one or all of these symptoms:
- Slight or extreme swelling of your hands, feet and extremities. The skin on these parts appear inflamed and stretched
- When pressed the swollen portion sinks in
- Sometimes, you may notice a swelling in the abdomen as well
- Normally after delivery the kidneys tend to work overtime so you tend to feel more sweaty and the need to urinate often
Well, as already mentioned, this is normal and there is no need to worry. Though the swelling subsides in a week’s time, you can do your part to ensure that it goes early.
Tips to Cure Postpartum Edema:
Posture:Elevate the swollen parts, especially hands and feet above the level of your heart. Avoid crossing your legs when you are sitting. You can try using pillows and cushions for help. Hold them in the elevated position for about 30 minutes and do this about 3-4 times a day
Wear Loose Clothing:Avoid wearing tight fitting socks and clothes
Rest is Essential:Rest a lot. Get someone to massage your hands and feet; keep your feet cool
Moderate walk and Exercise:Keep walking around the house a bit. Try some slow range joint movements but make sure not to stand for more than 15 minutes. Remember don’t tire yourself
No Cigarettes and Caffeine:Try to stop smoking and stay away from caffeine and carbonated drinks
Herbal Tea:You could replace your coffee with tea, especially dandelion tea during this time to prevent fluid retention. If you already have bladder issues, better avoid them
Watch Your Diet:Eat healthy. Avoid salty and pre-packaged foods. A big no to fried items. Eat lots of greens, fruits, eggs and meat. It’s a good idea to include broccoli, cabbage, celery, parsley, citrus fruits, apples and foods high in protein. Some people suggest that eating onion and garlic helps improve blood circulation and in reducing swelling in the extremities
Stay Hydrated:Drink plenty of water. It may sound silly, but it actually helps your kidneys to process the extra fluid and remove them with the ones already stored in the body
Try Foot Reflexology:Try Acupuncture or foot reflexology. This not just provides relief but makes you feel comfortable. Acupuncture improves the functioning of the kidneys and proves quite useful during this time
Try Aroma Oils:Soaking your feet in a mixture of aromatherapy oils and water improves blood circulation. Lavender or chamomile oil helps ease discomfort…give it a try
Ice Compress:If you have swelling at the perineum due to tear in the vagina or episiotomy, ice compress is the best remedy. Take a warm shower and keep away from lotions and creams until it has completely healed
When Does Postpartum Edema Become a Cause for Worry?
Postpartum edema is never usually a cause for worry. However you must immediately speak to your doctor is you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Terrible headache, dizziness and a blurry vision which could be due to increased blood pressure
- Severe pain only in one leg which could be an indication of a blood clot
- Along with the swelling, you experience chest pain and difficulty breathing. This could be due to a heart condition or a clot in the lungs
Can Postpartum Edema Be Prevented?
Maybe not. But it is certainly possible if you have a healthy diet all through your pregnancy which must include:
- Lean protein
- Fruits and vegetables
- Less sugar, salt and foods rich in fat
- Plenty of water
- Natural diuretics like apples, citrus fruits, celery and parsley
- Onion and garlic
- No pre-packaged foods
- Foods rich in vitamins C and E
Postpartum edema is common and is not life-threatening. So you don’t need to lose your sleep over it. A little bit of rest and care is all it takes to make it disappear soon. Stay informed and don’t let little things spoil all the good time you are going to experience with your baby to make a lifetime of memories.
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