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Are Your Feet More Swollen Postpartum? Here's Why

Everybody cut footloose.

Good news: it’s completely normal for postpartum people to have swelling in their feet. In fact, some people experience this throughout pregnancy all the way to after delivery. Sure, it doesn’t look great and might make you feel like the Marshmallow Man, but you are not alone.

This is a classic postpartum symptom, says Dr. Nisha Verma, an OB/GYN. Of course, that doesn’t make the experience living with feet swelling any better. Here’s how to identify and treat postpartum feet swelling.

What Causes Postpartum Feet Swelling

“The thought is that postpartum foot swelling is caused by pregnancy-related fluid retention. There’s some thought that it might also be related to some hormonal changes,” Dr. Verma says.

But significant swelling can be a sign of something more serious, Dr. Verma says. “If people are super, super swollen, sometimes we’ll want to check their blood pressure to make sure they don’t have something more serious like a blood clot or deep vein thrombosis in their legs.”

Postpartum Feet Swelling Symptoms

The number one identifiable symptom is, naturally, swelling. Puffy feet and toes may make it difficult to put on shoes and will turn feet into something better described as hooves.

The good news is your feet will eventually return to their normal shape.

“Usually it gradually resolves over a period of weeks after delivery,” says Dr. Verma. “Sometimes it can be more prolonged than that, up to a month, but usually it gets progressively better over the weeks after pregnancy.”

Postpartum Feet Swelling Treatments

There are plenty of ways to treat swollen feet, many of which you might already have around the house.

“We recommend leg elevation, exercise, and the wearing of compression socks,” says Dr. Verma. Drink plenty of water too to flush your system.

Even though it might be uncomfortable, getting your body up and moving can help reduce swelling.

“Things like leg elevation, exercise compression therapy to improve the oxygen, can decrease the swelling and reduce inflammation,” says Dr. Verma if the problem persists.

That said, if you see postpartum feet swelling going on much longer than expected, say months after delivery, it’s time to seek professional medical advice.

Bottom line: postpartum feet swelling isn’t a fun experience, but in all likelihood this too shall pass. Get some great compression socks and you’ll be OK.


Dr. Nisha Verma, an ob-gyn and abortion care provider and Darney-Landy ACOG fellow