20 answers

Swollen Ankles After C-section?

My sister in law just had a baby last sunday (on my 32nd birthday)! She had a c-section and afterward her ankles and feet swelled up HUGE, and still are.

I've read online that this is common, but I'm wondering if anyone had this and it was a real problem, not just fluid buildup that went away.


What can I do next?

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My feet/ankles swelled a bit after my c-section.I just rested a bunch and tried to stay off my feel as much as possible and all went away within a couple weeks.

I had this after I had my twins in May, it is normal. The thing that worked for me finally was to have my husband massage my feet and legs very well and when I did get to lay down I elevated my legs. Drinking lots of water helps too. I hope she gets her legs back soon :).

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Hi TJ,

I'm a L&D, NICU nurse and have had 4 c-sections myself. It seems to be a little known fact that most women will be more swollen after delivery than before.

Many women recieve Pitocin for induction and almost all women get it after delivery to help reduce bleeding. Pitocin acts as an anti-diuretic, which means it makes you retain fluid. Also, if a woman had a long labor, epidural, any bleeding, fever or any type of fetal distress, she was probably pumped with fluid. Also, with a c-section, most women receive at least 3 liters of fluid without any complications.

So, it is normal to have very swollen feet, ankles and legs after delivery. There are many women that can not wear their shoes home.

She can wear compression stockings if it helps to make her more comfortable, lay with feet elevated above her heart, walk and avoid dangling her feet when sitting. Everyone is different in how permeable their tissues are too.

Contgratulations to her for her new baby!


1 mom found this helpful

I've had 3 c-sections and my ankles were swollen for a few weeks afterwards each time. It's normal, but if she's concerned should call her OB or midwife. I was taking meds at the time (the hospital gave me Tylenol and ibuprofen to alternate alleviating the pain and swelling.) She should keep her feet elevated and someone should give her gentle massages on her feet and calves to get the fluid moving (accompany this with plenty of water! I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but it's the best thing for flushing the toxins out.) Best wishes and help your sister-in-law just to enjoy her new baby... If it's her first, she is probably overwhelmed emotionally by the whole c-section experience. I know it took me at least 3 months to get over my first one - I was experiencing love, joy, disappointment, depression, stress, and excitement all at once. For my 2nd and 3rd one I was expecting the c-section, so I was able to handle recovery a lot better. If it is only you who are concerned about the swelling, you don't need to share that worry with her as well. She'll know if there is a problem. Good luck and congrats on becoming an auntie!

I didn't have a csection but just a long vaginal birth. It's caused from the iv's and all the fluids that are pumped in. I was hooked up for about 16 hours and my ankles were so swollen it was nuts. I was in hospital for 2 nights and when I checked out on the third day, they were so swollen I couldn't even fit my shoes. Thank goodness it wasn't raining because I had no shoes to wear to the car. When I asked my doctor about it she told me she could give me a water pill to take away some of the fuilds but she'd only give me one pill because it can affect the milk supply. I did take the one pill on discharge from the hospital. I'm not sure if it affected my milk supply or not. I think it helped clear up the excessive swelling in my ankles.
Hopefully our SIL's ankles return to normal soon!

I was a bit swollen after my first C-section, but because I was in so much pain, I didn't walk around much at that time. If I did have swollen legs, I didn't notice it.

With this one, however, I felt better right afterwards and walked around a few days later. My legs and ankles were very swollen for almost 3 weeks! I probably should have gone to the doctor, but I was so happy that my scar and stomach felt better, I didn't think the swelling was a big deal. I did hear that you should drink a lot of water if that happens, though, which is supposed to help.

I think it is normal for swelling to occur since there are so many fluids pumped into a person when they have a C-section. It takes awhile for the body to get back to normal. Good luck to your sister-in-law and congratulations!

OMG, mine (feet AND lower legs) swelled up so much they actually hurt. I was convinced there was something seriously wrong. I couldn't even wear my own shoes when I was discharged from the hospital because my feet were so huge. The doctor was right. The swelling went away with my having to do anything, and boy oh boy was I relieved because that was the freakiest experience!

That happened to me after a vaginal birth and it lasted about two weeks. The Dr. said my feet would swell even more than they were before the baby. And, yes it is fluid and will go down. Try to keep her feet up as much as possible.

How fun, a new baby!

That happened to me after my last son was born. I was swollen from my knees to my toes for about 4-6 weeks. It is not a very comfortable feeling. It went away on it's own. I called the doctor's office many times about because it was uncomfortable. I was told drink lots of water and put your legs up when you can. My response was yeah right. Good luck, but it will go away. AO

Have her eat as much watermelon as she can, put her feet up & get a foot massage it will pass in a couple days to a week.

As the others have said, this is from both the IV fluids and other fluids retained from pregnancy, but mostly IV. I had a c-section on March 21st. Never had a single day of swelling during pregnancy, but by my second day home, I had what I thought were the most disgustingly swollen ankles EVER. I too was almost too big to wear shoes. My doctor (and several mommy friends and family) told me I wasn't putting my feet up enough, and they were right. The more I was up, the worse it got. In my experience, it took at least a week after I was home to clear up. Good luck and congrats to your SIL!

Remember that they pump you full of fluids during the surgery. This is not just the fluid retention from being pregnant.
Same thing happened to me and it went away after a couple days.

Congrats to your sis-in-law! I had 3 daughters via c-section and only with the last did I have swollen ankles after. I thought something was really wrong because they were soo bad. But they say it is fluid and be relieved it does go away. It is only a problem if only one of the legs are swollen. So tell her to get plenty of walking in and they should be relieved soon!

Just stopping by to add my own experience! Like the others mentioned, I too had a vaginal delivery but my feet and ankles swelled up HUGE. I can't remember it bothering me so much at the time, but when I look back at the pictures now, I am horrified that my usually-slender 30 year old ankles looked just like my hypertensive grandmother's when she was 70! lol

In other words, this too shall pass. I think if it was serious she would be having other symptoms. With that said, she should keep in mind the possibility of DVT *if* she has any leg pain or additional swelling (but she's probably fine).

Hi TJ,

Three of my four children were born via c-section. This is normal, it's the IV fluid and a lack of ability to be mobile. I elevated my legs & feet, and tried to get up onto my feet as much as possible, without causing too much pain and discomfort. It will subside. A C-section is major surgery with a ton of responsibility afterwards, so they are very difficult to recover from (especially the first). She should, however, contact her doctor if this persists past the 10th day. A simple call will let her know if she should make an appointment. I'm sure the nurse will get back to her immediately to help her find out if this has persisted for too long.

Good Luck,

BTW - my 3rd was born on my sisters birthday!

Mother of four, ranging in age from 5-20.

wow I thought I was the only one. i have had 3 c-sections over a span of four years and with my first daughter it was kind of an emergency one. I had alread had the epidural in and that was all they used when they did my c-section. NO swelling after her. with my next 2 I had a spinal block for both and the swelling got worse with my 3rd daughter. my feet swelled so bad I could hardly walk and they actually developed little cracks in the top right beneath my toes. the swelling did finally go down after about 3 weeks or so. i did not really find anything to help. I could not put my feet up like the doc recommended. ( two little ones plus new born) but when my husband would gently rub them that made them feel a little better. good luck to her and yes it does go down.

I had the same swelling in my feet, ankles and lower legs after my last two pregnancies. I had natural deliveries with no IV fluids. The swelling is from extra blood and fluids coming out of the body's tissues and pooling in the lower extremities. I was back to normal after about a week. Unless her blood pressure is significantly elevated, the swelling isn't a sign of anything ominous.

My ankles got HUGE after this last c-section. It lasted for a few days. Tell her to drink water and as much as possible try to keep her feet elevated. Also when she is up she should try to be moving (for all sorts of reasons!). It goes away after a few days.

I had swollen ankles after my first c-section--BAD--I didn't notice (I was kind of preoccupied), but when pictures of that day came back, I realized how bad it had gotten (my ankles were as big around as my calves...like baloons). My husband had intentionally not told me.

Within a week, though, they were very normal. I never had any complications that went with those...though I did have one high blood pressure reading (135/80--very high for me, since I had never had a reading over 112/70 in my life!).

My doctor didn't seem at all concerned, either. Has she spoken with her doctor about it?

I had this after I had my twins in May, it is normal. The thing that worked for me finally was to have my husband massage my feet and legs very well and when I did get to lay down I elevated my legs. Drinking lots of water helps too. I hope she gets her legs back soon :).

T J,

I had the same problem just over 2 yrs ago when my sons were born by C-Section. It took a few weeks to go away...I eventually had to have my mom and mom-in-law steal the boys for 2 afternoons so I could sleep FLAT. After that, the swelling stayed down most the time. Not long after getting some GREAT sleep and help, the swelling subsided.

Good luck,

My feet/ankles swelled a bit after my c-section.I just rested a bunch and tried to stay off my feel as much as possible and all went away within a couple weeks.

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