There are a lot of unexpected things that happen to your body after childbirth. One of these is the swelling in your legs and feet. This condition is known as postpartum edema. It is natural to have this.
In this blog, we will discuss the causes and symptoms of this kind of post-natal swelling. We will also look at 15 natural ways to cure it.
What is postpartum edema?
During pregnancy, you can notice swelling in your legs, feet, hands, etc. This is very common. This kind of swelling can remain even after your delivery. It can remain till a week or so after childbirth.
At the time of your pregnancy, there is increase in your blood volume. It can increase by almost 50%. This happens to help protect your growing fetus. It also nourishes you. This excess blood volume causes fluid accommodation in your body. The additional volume causes dilution of blood and low concentration of proteins.
During childbirth, not all of the extra fluid is lost. As a result of the fluid retention, extra blood volume, and hormonal changes, parts of your body can swell up. These include your hands, legs, and feet. This is known as postpartum edema.
What causes postpartum swelling?
There are plenty of causes for this condition. During and after pregnancy, your body goes through a lot of changes. Such changes can extert pressure on your extremities leading to swelling. Here are some of the common causes of postpartum swelling.
Increased size of your uterus: After delivery, your uterus will take some time to get back to its normal size. During the pregnancy, your uterus grows to make room for your growing baby. This expansion causes pressure on the veins that reach the lower ends of your body. This in turn can lead to fluid retention and postpartum edema.
Hormones: During pregnancy there is an increased production of the hormone progesterone. This causes increase in sodium and water retention in your body. This excess water in your body during pregnancy can also lead to swelling in the postpartum period.
Delivery Process: Pushing during a vaginal birth can cause more blood and fluids to reach your extremities. This, along with the pressure caused by pregnancy, causes puffiness and swelling in the postpartum phase.
IV Fluids: IV fluids are an important cause of postpartum edema. Medication and anesthesia are administered via IV in pregnant women. These fluids can build up in your body and cause localized postpartum edema. This takes a few days to go away.
What are the symptoms of postpartum edema?
How to know if you have postpartum edema? Here are some of the symptoms to look out for.
- Moderate to extreme swelling and puffiness in your hands, feet, and extrimities.
- The swollen parts appear puffy, shiny, and inflamed
- On pressing the swollen area the skin sinks in and a crater is created
- You may notice swelling in the abdomen along with your hands and legs
Natural remedies to cure postpartum edema
There are natural ways you can treat your postpartum swellings. These are easy home remedies that are worth a try.
Before you try any of the below home remedies, consult your doctor to make sure that the swelling is due to postpartum edema. Get checked for any underlying issues that may also cause such swelling.
Once your doctor has certified that the condition is indeed postpartum edema, you can try any of these awesome 15 natural remedies to treat it.
Elevating the swollen parts above your heart level, can sometimes help reduce the swelling. Raising your legs and hands above heart level will also help provide relief from the discomfort.
- Try using pillows, cushions, or stools to elevate the affected area.
- Hold the position for at least 30 minutes
- Do this 3 – 4 times in a day
Doing this regularly will help give relief from the symptoms of edema.
Postpartum edema can get worse if you remain stagnant for a long time. This is because, sitting or standing in the same position for a long time, causes the fluids to be in the same place in the tissues.
- Keep changing your position every few minutes
- Get up and walk around for a while if you have been sitting at a stretch
- If you have been on your feet for a long time, take a break
- Elevate your swollen areas after being in the same poistion for long
Frequent breaks from stagnation will help reduce the fluids from building up in your tissues. This will help in reducing the swelling and discomfort. It also provides a welcome break from the monotony.
Apple Cider Vinegar
There is very little that this natural ingredient cannot treat. It can be used to treat cough and cold and also thrush in your baby. You can also use this to help treat postpartum edema at home.
- Add 1 to 2 teaspoon full of raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar to 1 glass of water
- Drink this tonic twice daily
- Alternately, you can mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and warm water
- Soak a towel in this mixture
- Wrap this soakd towel in the affected area for several minutes
- Repeat the process few times everyday
The anti-inflammatory properties of apple cider vinegar will help reduce the pain and swelling. It also has high levels of potassium. This is very effective in quenching the potassium levels in your body. This in turn can help reverse the fluid retention.
Epsom Salt Bath
Epsom salt baths have been used for many years to treat postpartum edema. It is great for treating inflammation, swelling, and pain due to edema.
- Run a warm bath
- Mix 2 cups of Epsom salt in the warm water of your bath
- Soak in this warm bath for 10 – 15 minutes
- Repeat this process up to 3 times per week
This process is very good at drawing out the excess fluids from your body. You will get relief from the swelling and discomfort soon.
Avoid salty food
Eating salty and processed foods can cause your body to retain more fluids. Processed foods are high in sodium. This can lead to greater wate retention in your body. In the postpartum period it is a good idea to avoid foods like:
- Prepackaged snacks
- Fried foods
- Processed and canned foods
- Fast food
Talk to your doctor and find out the amount of sodium you can have. This way you can avoid having foods that are high in sodium.
Using cabbage can also give you relief from postpartum edema naturally. It can help drain out the excess fluid from the swollen area.
- Wipe cabbage leaves clean. Do not use water
- Cool the clean leaves in the refrigerator
- Use the chilled leaves to make a natural cold compress
- Keep the leaves until they become wet
- Replace the wet cabbage leaves with fresh chilled ones
- Repeat this process till the pain becomes less
You can try this natural cure for postpartum edema as many times as you want. Repeat as frequently as you want till you get relief.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree Oil has many benefits for skin. It is also used for treating whooping cough and other illnesses. It has anti-inflammatory properties which make it great for treating edema.
- Add a few drops of tea tree oil to any carrier oil
- Use it to massage the affected area using outward strokes
- Follow this remedy 2 times daily for a few days until the swelling and pain are gone.
According to research, tea tree oil can help regulate edema. This is because of the presence of alpha-terpineol and terpinen-4-ol in the oil.
Getting a good massage can also help provide relief from sweeling and discomfort caused by edema. Gentle strokes creates pressure on the affected areas’s skin and muscles. This activates your lymphatic system, which makes the fluid drain away naturally.
Here is a great massage idea to cure postpartum edema.
- Warm some mustard, olive or coconut oil
- Massage the affected area gently with the warm oil
- Do this several times a day
Make sure that your massage is done by a professional therapist. Swelling during pregnancy should also be massaged by professionals.
Maintain a healthy diet
During pregnancy and post childbirth, make sure to maintain a healthy diet. Eating a balanced diet will minimise fluid retention. It will also prevent you from feeling puffy and bloated.
You should include foods that are rich in iron and B-vitamins. You should also include foods that act as natural diuretics. These can help ease the edema.
Here are some of the fruits and vegetables that you should include in your diet to treat edema.
- green leafy veggies
- whole grains
These foods will help to flush out excess fluids. You will find relief from the discmfort and swelling by keeping these foods in your daily diet.
This herb can act like a natural diuretic. This helps in draining the excess fluid that has accumulated in your body. Dandelion is also high in potassium. This helps in balancing out the excess sodium in your body.
- Take 1 teaspoon of dried or fresh dandelion leaves
- Add it to 1 cup of hot water
- Cover and steep for 5 – 7 minutes
- Strain the mixture
- Drink 2 – 3 cups of this tea every day
Drinking this herbal tea can help reduce inflammation and swelling due to edema. Be careful not to use this tea if you have gallbladder issues.
This common kitchen herb is also very helpful in naturally curing postpartum edema. Sudies have found this herb to have diuretic effects. You can use it to treat swelling in the postpartum peroid.
Here is how you can use it:
- Take 1 teaspoon of dried parsley
- Add to 2 cups of water
- Boil for 10 minutes and strain
- Drink this herbal tea once daily
- Drink the tea before breakfast
Alternately, you can try this method:
- Take some fresh parsley leaves and crush them to make a paste
- Apply this paste to the affected areas
- Leave the paste on for 30 minutes
- Rinse off with warm water
- Repeat this process twice daily
You can also increase your intake of parsley by adding it to your soups, salads, and other dishes. It is also good in blocking the re-absorption of sodium and potassium in your body.
Doing mild exercises in the postpartum phase can also help. It increases the circulation and reduces the swelling.
Here are some of the exercises that you can include in your daily life.
- Foot exercises. These can help bring down swelling, especially in the ankles. Try these two exercises for getting relief:
- Move each foot in circular motion eight times clockwise and eight times anti-clockwise
- Bend and stretch the foot up and down 30 times
- Short and brisk walks, several times a day, can also help reduce the inflammation. It is also good for improving circulation.
- Take 15 – 30 minutes of fast strolling everyday. This will make the swelling go down
Flaxseeds have found mention in the Ayurveda for their ability to treat edema. It has great anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it very effective in reducing swelling.
Flaxseeds are also powerful agents of detoxification. Which means they can help flush out the toxins from your body. Here is how you can use flaxseeds to naturally cure postpartum edema.
- Take ½ teaspoon of ground flaxseeds
- Add to 1 glass of warm water
- Drink this mixture twice daily
Alternately, you can also try massaging the swollen areas with flaxseed oil. Massage gently, a few times every day.
Coriander seeds are also useful in treating edema. The anti-inflammatory property of coriander seeds can reduce swelling and pain. Plus, these seeds encourage good blood circulation.
- Mix 3 tablespoons of coriander seeds in 1 cup of water.
- Heat it to a boil, then simmer until the water reduces by half.
- Strain and allow it to cool.
- Drink this 2 times a day until the symptoms are gone.
Increase your fluid intake
Drinking more fluids in a condition like edema must sound counterintuitive. But in reality, it is not. It is actually helpful in curing the fluid retention in your body.
- Inadequate intake of water can actually cause your body to retain more fluids. This will make your condition worse
- Drinking more water will help flush out the excess water that is stored in your body
- It is also helpful in removing the toxins from your body
- Make sure you drink enough water and use the bathroom regularly
Fluid retention can decrease with the increased intake of fluids. So don’t restrict your intake in case you are suffering from edema.
Treating postpartum edema naturally is a good idea. Taking frequent short breaks when you are on your feet and maintaining a healthy diet are natural ways that you can cure your condition. If you do not see any improvement in your situation after using the above natural ways, talk to your doctor. There may be some underlying illness that may be causing the swelling.
Before trying any of the above home remedies, make sure to consult your doctor for safety. If you are allergic to any of the ingredients mentioned above, do not use. However, remember that postpartum edema is normal and it is curable with some care on your part.