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Water Retention / Swelling Copy

Water retention also known as postpartum oedema (swelling) is a very common issue to experience both during pregnancy and after giving birth.  It can often get worse in that first week after giving birth due to the increase in a hormone called progesterone.  Or if you have had IV fluids during a C-section.  While quite common it is rarely serious, however if you experience:

  •  any difficulty breathing or shortness of breath 
  •  headaches (usually severe)
  •  swelling of face and or hands & feet 
  •  swelling and or severe pain in one leg with warmth or redness
  •  blurred or changes in vision


  • Keep hydrated – even though this seems counter-intuitive it is important to keep hydrated to help flush out the fluids. Water, non-caffeinated teas, and isotonic drinks are simple ways to ensure this.  This is especially important if you are breast-feeding or pumping. 
  •  Avoid salty foods and increase consumption of potassium rich foods such as bananas, avocados & spinach. 
  • Get moving. Walking and ankle pumps along with feet elevation are good ways to use your leg muscles as pumps to reduce the swelling. There are a number of different exercises your physiotherapist can help you with to reduce the swelling.  Try our Recovery Workouts which will help.
  •  If warranted wear compression socks but ensure that you do not get accumulating fluids just above the rim of the socks.
  •  If your hands and fingers are swollen you can try elevating them above your head and making a fist and relaxing the hands a few times.
  •  Correct and appropriate lymphatic massage can aid in reducing the swelling which can be administered by a qualified lymphatic drainage trained massage therapist or physiotherapist. 

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