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Swollen ankles

Got cankles? How to reduce leg swelling after childbirth

Swollen ankles42

April 30, 2019

Swelling in legs, ankles, and feet is very common during pregnancy, especially during the third trimester and in the summertime. This is mostly a result of the extra fluid your body produces in order to grow another human and prepare for childbirth.

When is it cause for concern?

It’s a completely expected side effect of being pregnant, but in rare cases it’s a symptom of a more serious health issue, so call if your doctor if:

  • It comes on suddenly (or if you have other symptoms of preeclampsia)
  • It is accompanied by pain, redness, warmth, or tenderness in your legs (it may be a sign of deep vein thrombosis, which can lead to a pulmonary embolism).

In most cases, leg swelling while you’re pregnant is totally normal. After you give birth, sometimes that swelling takes a while to go down. But there are ways to help the process along (or at least not drag it out any longer than necessary).

What can you do to help bring the swelling down?

  1. Eat potassium-rich foods like bananas, potatoes, avocados, and spinach.
  2. Reduce your caffeine intake. I know you’re probably really tired and #coffeeislife but caffeine makes your body retain water and increases swelling.
  3. Keep your feet elevated. Might be hard to do while breastfeeding (if you are), but if you’re noticing yourself sitting on the couch, bring over a footrest to put your feet on.
  4. Wear comfortable shoes. Just because the royals wear heels after giving birth doesn’t mean you have to, too.
  5. Wear compression socks. Super sexy, especially when paired with the mesh underwear from the hospital.
  6. Drink water. It actually helps you retain less water (counter-intuitive, I know).
  7. Avoid salty foods, as sodium makes you retain more water.
  8. Go for a daily walk (depending on where you are in your birth recovery) to increase your circulation.
  9. Wear loose-fitting clothes. Seem like that contradicts the compression sock advice, but basically you don’t want to cut off circulation (compression socks actually increase circulation because of the way they’re designed).
  10. Get a massage. There are massage therapists that specialize in prenatal and postpartum massage, which is great, but any massage will help increase circulation.
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