Why do I swell during pregnancy?
A woman’s body changes during pregnancy to help her carry a heavy load for several months. Her body can make up to 50% more body fluids to soften and expand. This lets her body support the baby and help with the birthing process.
Why do I remain swollen after giving birth?
When you are pregnant, your body starts to swell in the middle of the pregnancy. The swelling worsens in the third trimester and significantly improves within a week of giving birth.
Postpartum water retention is also called postpartum swelling or postpartum edema. These are synonyms for saying there is fluid retention in the body after giving birth.
You may have fluid retention if your ankles, feet, legs, arms, and face are swollen more than usual. If your skin is shiny and feels very tight, then you can almost be certain you are swelling significantly.
You remain swollen after giving birth due to the following:
- There are fluids left over from the pregnancy. These fluids had been accumulating all throughout pregnancy and take time to be eliminated from your body.
- During an epidural or C-section, fluids were given through an IV, which only added on to the amount of fluid in your body.
- Because progesterone levels go up after giving birth, your body will continue to hold on to water and you will feel swollen.
- You are often sedentary during the days following the birth of your little one, which does not help with water metabolism.
For most of us, the swelling might be noticeable but then disappears within a week through the usual channels of elimination – perspiration and urination.
If the swelling is significant, or does not seem to subside even after a week, it is prudent to seek out some form of intervention.
How do I know if I have postpartum water retention?
- A lot of gas, especially in the belly area.
- Swollen legs, feet, and ankles.
- The abdomen, face, and hips swell up.
- Stiff joints.
- Feeling heavy and sluggish.
- Swollen and hard lymph nodes in the armpit or groin.
3 Natural Treatments That Help to Reduce Postpartum Swelling Quickly
Postpartum swelling can’t be completely avoided, but if your water retention takes longer than a week to go away, consider the following:
- Lymphatic Drainage: The lymphatic system is usually clogged up in people suffering from water retention. Lymphatic drainage is a very effective way to decongest the lymphatic system and improve the metabolism of fluids in the body.
- Acupuncture: Water metabolism can improve even after one session of acupuncture.
- Chinese Herbs: Using traditional Chinese medicine in meals is one of the best ways to get rid of water retention after giving birth. Normal confinement herbs may help with swelling, but if you are swelling, you may need additional herbs to address your ailment.
How does lymphatic drainage treat postpartum water retention?
If your body is significantly swollen after giving birth, there is some level of lymphatic congestion.
While you may not be able to sense the rate of flow of lymph, you may be able to palpate hard and swollen lymph nodes in the body. The lymph nodes in the armpits and groin are the most easily palpable.
Lymphatic drainage is a very effective way to reduce postpartum water retention by getting rid of lymphatic congestion.
How does acupuncture treat postpartum water retention?
Acupuncture is very effective in treating water retention. As part of the treatment, the practitioner will needle certain points in the abdomen and extremities. You will often experience significant relief within a day of the treatment.
Acupuncture treats postpartum water retention by stimulating certain nerves which then increase microcirculation and water metabolism in the body.
One acupuncture point used is SP9, a point on the shin just under the inner knee. When SP9 is stimulated, the lymphatic bottle neck is opened up, allowing fluids to flow from the calves and feet up toward the groin and abdomen.
Acupuncture is also helpful in treating postpartum depression, postpartum weight gain and postpartum C-section scar numbness and tightness.
How do Chinese herbs treat postpartum water retention?
You can reduce postpartum water retention by using Chinese herbs. After giving birth, the body is usually very weak. The bowels move slowly, the lymphatic system moves slowly. Everything is move very slowly as the body recovers from the intense event of giving birth.
- Some Chinese herbs help by build Qi and Blood. As Qi and Blood is fortified, the body becomes stronger and is able to effectively eliminate fluids and reduce swelling.
- Some Chinese herbs are amazing diuretics, which increase urination. Some of these diuretic herbs include ginger skin, poria cocos and wolfberry root.
- Other Chinese herbs are gentle warmers. These are herbs that gently warm up the body during confinement, and are especially helpful for women who feel cold easily when they are not pregnant. Herbs that gently warm will help the body’s physiology, resulting in elimination of fluids from the system.