If you recently had a baby and are breast-feeding, you have seen your body undergo many changes. Nursing your infant is a healthy way to ensure that he gets the nutrients he needs to grow and develop, but you also may be wondering how to make yourself more comfortable throughout the process. Swelling in the morning is a common complaint during breast-feeding. If you have swollen fingers, understand the causes as well as the ways to alleviate the problem.
Swelling occurs when fluid builds up in your tissue 3. If your fingers are swollen in the morning, your fluid level increased while you were sleeping, making your fingers appear fatter than they really are. Swelling during pregnancy is quite common as your blood volume increases and you produce amniotic fluid, but you also may experience swelling for several months following delivery as your bodily fluids adjust back to normal levels.
If you have reached your six-week mark post-delivery, you likely have returned to taking oral contraceptives, or birth control, even if you are exclusively breast-feeding your infant. Oral contraceptives are one reason why you may be experiencing swollen fingers in the morning. The combination of hormones and ingredients in the pills may encourage water retention, which leads to increased swelling. If you are breast-feeding and taking an oral contraceptive and are bothered by swollen fingers, there may be alternate forms of birth control for you.
The foods and beverages you consume, or do not consume, while breast-feeding can play a role in how swollen your fingers are in the morning. Your doctor likely has told you to drink plenty of water while breast-feeding, but if you do not do so, you may begin to retain fluid in your body, which can lead to swollen fingers when you get up in the morning. If you eat a diet that includes many salty foods, you also may retain water as the sodium and potassium balance in your body is disrupted. Morning swelling is more likely if you eat salty foods in the evening 3.
Some swelling is normal and common as your body returns to its prepregnancy state. If your fingers are noticeably swollen in the morning while you are breast-feeding, drink one or two more cups of water per day to see if it reduces the swelling. Limit your intake of salty foods, as well, to see if your swelling is due to your diet. If these dietary changes do not help, talk to your doctor about alternate forms of birth control while you are nursing. If you have severe swelling, call your doctor right away because you may have an underlying medical condition that needs attention.
- The Whole Truth About Contraception: A Guide to Safe and Effective Choices; Beverly Winikoff and Suzanne Wymelenberg
- AIMS Journal: Breastfeeding
- National Institutes of Health: Swelling
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