Postpartum swelling is a common symptom among newly delivered mothers. Since your body retains extra fluids during pregnancy, you might experience postpartum swelling in the face and extremities, most often the hands, feet and legs. As you wait for your kidneys to catch up, you can relieve some of the swelling naturally with a few simple, at-home steps.

Drink plenty of water

As always, hydration is critical. Though it may seem counterintuitive to add more water to your body, drinking water keeps your kidneys functioning at their peak, which helps to remove waste and extra fluids. Dehydration can cause your body to retain these extra fluids, so drinking water regularly can help to gradually alleviate postpartum swelling while also accelerating your body’s recovery.

Stay active & elevate your legs when possible

Without overdoing it, try some light exercise or gentle movements to prevent fluids and blood from pooling in your legs. Simple activities like walking or light yoga can improve circulation and help your body to flush these fluids out. When you’re resting, try elevating your legs and turning your ankles in circular motions to ease discomfort and improve circulation.

Reduce sodium intake

While that frozen pizza seems tempting, it’s not ideal for your swollen extremities. Consuming too much sodium can cause your body to retain more water, which exacerbates postpartum swelling. Avoiding processed, high-sodium foods and eating a healthy, well-balanced diet with sources of lean protein and fresh fruit and vegetables can prevent swelling from worsening and accelerate healing. A healthy diet can do wonders for the postpartum body.

Wear comfortable shoes & dress loosely

Spare your feet from tight runners or those stifling high-heel straps! Wearing the wrong shoes can constrict your feet and aggravate swelling. Try comfy sandals or light flats instead to keep blood flowing smoothly. Additionally, avoid tight-fitting clothing, particularly around the wrists and ankles, so not to weaken your circulation. Dressing loosely prevents fluids from pooling and ensures a healthier blood flow.

Avoid standing or sitting for long periods

Staying seated or standing for too long can cause fluids and blood to pool in your ankles, legs and feet, which can worsen postpartum swelling. If you must be on your feet, take frequent breaks to stretch out your legs and ankles, elevating them when possible. When you’re sitting (or binge-watching Netflix), avoid crossing your legs as this can restrict blood flow.

Postpartum swelling is a common and natural side effect of pregnancy and childbirth. It affects both vaginal and caesarean deliveries and tends to resolve itself gradually through sweating and frequent bathroom breaks. If your swelling is affecting your lifestyle or accompanied by other uncomfortable symptoms, such as redness or fever, consult your doctor. In the meantime, be patient with your body and treat it to plenty of water, healthy foods and fresh air strolls.