Pregnancy feels like both the best and worst thing that has ever happened to you and is—at various times—overwhelming, exciting, and stressful. Besides the huge, complex emotional component of the experience, profound physical changes are happening to you. With so much taking place during this life-changing event, it is understandable that your feet can get lost in the mix.
Common Foot Problems During Pregnancy
There are various foot issues that can crop up for pregnant women, but two of the most common are edema and overpronation.
Edema is a condition marked by swelling in your feet and will normally occur in the later terms. Your body produces extra blood during the course of the nine months and leads to the swelling. The circulation slows down in your lower extremities due to the enlarging uterus placing increased pressure on the blood vessels in your pelvis. As a result, blood pools in your lower limbs and feet, causing them to swell and sometimes adopt a purplish color.
Overpronation refers to an excessive inward rolling motion performed by your feet when you walk. This happens because your arches tend to flatten out on account of the additional weight your body assumes during the pregnancy. Further contributing to the condition, your body releases a hormone (relaxin) to relax pelvis ligaments for the upcoming birth, which also relaxes your foot ligaments.
Complications from this abnormal motion may include pain in the knees, hips, and lower back. This comes from changed posture when walking. Extra stress is also placed upon your plantar fascia, the fibrous band of tissue running lengthwise across the bottom of your foot. This can lead to inflammation and a condition known as plantar fasciitis.
Other foot issues, while you are pregnant, can include bunions, corns, and ingrown nails developed as a result of shoes that do not fit properly.
Pregnancy and Foot Size
The change in your foot size can certainly get lost by the wayside given how much is happening in those nine months, but it is important to give the matter a little thought. You can expect your feet to grow by at least half a size during the course of the nine months. As we mentioned, your body releases the relaxin hormone that loosens ligaments in your feet and allows them to spread, plus your arches become flattened due to increased weight, and you have fluids pooling there too. All of these factors will necessitate larger shoes.
The fact that expansion comes about gradually and the phenomenon called “shoe-size vanity” (believing smaller sizes to be better) both play roles in women not moving up in shoes sizes. However, doing so can help prevent issues and also create more comfort. Speaking of comfort, it may be tempting to try and keep up with fashion trends when it comes to footwear, but be sure to pass on wearing shoes that have high heels and stick with comfortable shoes that fit well.
Treating and Preventing Edema
The good news about edema is that there are measures you can take to help treat the condition and even decrease the odds of it happening in the first place. These include:
- Elevate your feet as frequently as possible.
- Wear comfortable shoes that fit well and provide ample room. Avoid footwear that constricts circulation by being too narrow or short. Having your feet measured periodically throughout your pregnancy can help with this.
- Choose seamless socks that will not constrict circulation.
- Walk regularly to promote your overall health.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and help your body retain less fluid. Eating a well-balanced diet and avoiding foods high in sodium will also help to prevent fluid retention.
- This may be a hard one to follow, but we recommend that you have your feet massaged regularly during the course of your pregnancy.
You already have a lot on your mind, so let us help you when it comes to caring for your feet during these nine months. We can help with additional tips, information, and treatment for you. Call our Austin, TX office at (512) 328-8900 or use our online form to request an appointment today.