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.