Pregnancy and Your Feet

How Does Pregnancy Affect Your Feet?

Pregnancy triggers many different changes in a woman’s body. 

What happens is that during pregnancy there is an increased release of a hormone within the body called relaxin. Relaxin is important in preparing the body for childbirth and is responsible for relaxing the ligaments. 

However, this hormone has an affect on the whole body and not just the pelvis. 

Changes in the feet can occur due to the increased ligament laxity resulting in change in length and width of your feet, flattening of the arches, instability of the ankles or knees and a possible contribution to lower back pain. 

During and post pregnancy it is easy to ignore pain or discomfort that may occur in the feet and legs. 

During pregnancy your centre of mass will change which can lead to a new weight bearing stance and add pressure to the feet and knees.

Flat Feet

Flat feet occurs when the arch of the foot flattens out upon weight bearing and the foot rolls inward when walking due to excessive pronation.

Women with flexible feet often experience changes in the feet due to the relaxin hormone as well as increased weight gain. It is important to avoid walking barefoot for long periods especially on tiles.

Often during and post pregnancy women often go from working, to being busy on your feet all day at home often with no shoes on. 

A flat foot shown from the medial side with virtually no arch at all

This excessive pronation can create stress on the foot and ankle area and cause inflammation of the plantar fascia, which can persist for months or even years.

The plantar fascia is the band of tissue that runs from the heel to the forefoot. It is important to wear shoes that are comfortable with arch support and cushioning.

Oedema (or Edema)

Oedema is also called swelling in the feet and often a part of pregnancy. It is caused by the extra blood accumulated during pregnancy and can cause swelling in the lower extremities.

Oedema or swelling can be managed in different ways. First and foremost, you should elevate your feet as often as possible. If you have to sit for long periods of time you should place your feet on a small stool or chair to elevate them. 

A pregnant lady massages her swollen feet and ankles on a sofa

 Also, as mentioned earlier your foot will change shape throughout pregnancy and you should measure your foot size several times through pregnancy to make sure you are wearing proper fitting footwear.

Steer away from tight fitting footwear such as narrow or small fitting shoes to avoid injuries (read tingling toes blog here).

It is very common and normal that your feet will change in size, length and width during pregnancy.

Due to the Oedema it is important to wear socks that aren’t too tight fitting. Other ways to help manage the amount of Oedema is regular exercise, healthy diet and fluid intake.

During pregnancy it is common for women to experience ingrown toenails. A number of different reasons can cause this to occur as mentioned above.

However, it can occur due to it being difficult to reach your feet causing incorrect nail trimming, and picking or tearing at the nails which will only exacerbate the problem.

A Podiatrist can Help with Your Ingrown Toenails

If you’re having trouble reaching your feet or have concerns about ingrown nails book in with our Podiatrist to discuss treatment options.

Heels and Callous

Oedema or swollen feet are more likely to experience cracked heels due to the increased pressure on the padded area under your heel.

The best treatment is to routinely moisturize your feet every day and wearing cushioned footwear. The additional stress during pregnancy can cause callous due to the area having increase stress or load through it.

If the callous or cracked heels become problematic we recommend that you seek treatment by our podiatrist.

What Happens After Pregnancy?

Many of these conditions continue after pregnancy especially if you are breastfeeding.

It takes some time for the impact of reducing hormone levels and weight loss to allow feet and limbs to recover. However, your feet may be the same shape or size after pregnancy, which is common.

If you are having problems during or post pregnancy with your feet, book an appointment at Dynamic Podiatry.

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