Most women are familiar with swelling during pregnancy. Whether or not you've ever been pregnant, you've likely heard about the swollen fingers, ankles, legs and feet that can add to the discomfort of pregnancy. On the other hand, many people are unaware that women are just as likely to experience swelling after pregnancy has ended, and this swelling often lasts as long as a week after delivery [source: Kitzinger].
A woman's body produces about 50 percent more blood during pregnancy, which helps to nourish and protect both baby and mother [source: Kitzinger]. But not all of this excess blood leaves the body during delivery. Combine this extra blood volume with normal fluid build-up and hormonal changes, and it's easy to see why pregnancy swelling is such a common occurrence.
While familiar areas like the ankles, hands and legs are likely to swell after delivery, women must also deal with swelling from incision sites, including C-sections and episiotomy incisions. All of this swelling can sometimes lead to pain or tenderness for the mom, but it's mostly just a source of general discomfort or inconvenience.
If all this swelling is making you worried or anxious, relax. Some general swelling is normal for pregnant women, and it's rare that swelling completely goes away at the moment of delivery [source: Davis]. Even if you're getting fed up with shoes that no longer fit or rings that seem to be permanently stuck on your swollen fingers, take comfort in the fact that this, too, shall pass. The majority of postpartum swelling subsides within a week of delivery, allowing new moms to focus on what's most important: caring for a new baby and getting the right postpartum care for themselves.
So, what exactly causes this swelling, and is there a way to minimize its effects? Read on to learn more about the causes and remedies for swelling after pregnancy.