11 May Pregnancy and Your Feet
Swollen feet. Arch pain. Ingrown toenails. Change in the size of your feet.
What do any of the above have to do with pregnancy? A lot more than you realise! Weight gain and raised hormone levels during pregnancy can affect your feet. Our podiatrists have put together some helpful tips that can significantly reduce any discomfort you might feel in your feet while you’re pregnant.
Swollen Feet (Oedema)
It’s common to notice swollen feet around the fifth month of your pregnancy and beyond. This is due to an increase in the volume of blood and fluids in your body and a decrease in circulation. During pregnancy, the extra fluid in the body and the pressure from the growing uterus can cause swelling in the ankles and feet. Although mild foot and ankle swelling during pregnancy is normal, sudden swelling that is painful, especially if it’s in one leg only, could be an indication of a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis). Another big risk is pre-eclampsia (a sudden spike in blood pressure), which can be very dangerous, so go to your doctor immediately.
OUR TIP: Reduce your intake of sodium and caffeine, increase your intake of water and potassium, elevate your feet, wear comfortable shoes and compression stockings.
If you experience pain in your arches when pregnant, it is because your foot’s arch has flattened. Over-pronation occurs during pregnancy due to your body gaining weight which puts stress on the feet and flattens your arches. Even a simple walk can feel painful and put pressure on your joints, back and feet.
OUR TIP: Stretch your feet every morning as well as after any physical activity and wear shoes that provide good arch support.
While pregnancy itself does not cause ingrown toenails, the swelling in the feet that you as a pregnant woman experience causes your shoes to feel tighter and make your toes rub against them. This pressure can lead to painful ingrown toenails. A pregnant belly can also get in the way of cutting your toenails properly, which can also lead to ingrown toenails.
OUR TIP: Wear shoes that fit correctly – do not wear shoes that are too tight. If you notice an ingrown toenail, get it treated immediately by a podiatrist – do not self-treat as it can lead to a nail infection.
Change in Foot Size
Due to the pregnancy hormone relaxin, the bones, ligaments and tendons in your feet will expand and stretch. This, coupled with natural weight gain during pregnancy, causes your feet to widen. You might need to go up a shoe size (or half) to accommodate your expanding feet. Do not try to squeeze your feet into tight shoes as it could lead to bunions and ingrown toenails.
OUR TIP: Make sure you get yourself a couple of pairs of shoes that fit properly and feel comfortable. Most women go back to their pre-pregnancy shoe size after the birth of their baby.
Our podiatrists also recommend that you avoid wearing high heels while pregnant. This is because your centre of gravity shifts and your ligaments loosen when pregnant and this can put you at risk for having a fall.