Pregnancy is an exciting time for many people. But growing a new life can also come with some uncomfortable changes to your body. Below, we discuss how pregnancy can impact your feet, and what you can do to take care of them.
What Changes to My Feet Can I Expect During Pregnancy?
1. Shoe Size Changes
As many people who’ve had children will tell you, it is not uncommon for your feet to go up in size during pregnancy! This can happen for a few reasons. First, the weight of carrying a child puts added pressure on your arches, causing your feet to flatten and lengthen. Second, during pregnancy, the hormone relaxin is released to loosen the ligaments in your pelvis to prepare your body for giving birth. Relaxin also causes the ligaments elsewhere in the body – like the feet – to loosen too. This causes the bones in your feet to stretch further apart, meaning some pregnant people’s feet go up a half or full size!
The pressure on your arch from the weight of the baby may also cause your feet to roll inwards, or overpronate. puts pressure on your plantar fascia (the ligament that runs from your heel to your arch), which may lead to pain in the heel and/or difficulty walking. This condition is known as plantar fasciitis.
If you’re in your second trimester already, you are probably no stranger to foot and ankle swelling! During pregnancy, the body creates extra fluid to support the growth of the baby. Gravity can cause this extra fluid to pool in your lower extremities. As the uterus expands, it can also put pressure on your veins, making it more difficult for the blood in your feet and ankles to get back to your heart. The swelling may get worse towards the end of your pregnancy, if you spend a lot of time on your feet, and/or in hot weather.
How Can I Take Care of My Feet During Pregnancy?
1. Supportive Shoes
The first thing you can do to care for your feet during pregnancy is wear supportive shoes! You’ll want to find a pair that has strong arch support and can accommodate any swelling (like a shoe with laces and a big opening). Check out our recommendations for everyday wear here! Another option to support your feet is a pair of custom orthotics. These will offer you arch support to counteract the added pressure on your feet from the weight of the baby. This is an especially good idea if your pregnancy has caused plantar fasciitis or overpronation.
2. Compression Stockings
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Compression stockings are special tights that put gentle pressure on your legs to increase circulation. The slight pressure helps your veins counteract gravity and so they can push blood up away from your feet back toward your heart. Compression stockings can be especially helpful if you’re experiencing swelling in your feet and ankles during pregnancy. At Feet First Clinic, we’d be happy to help you find the right level of compression to support your pregnancy!
Check out the video below for more information on how compression stockings can help keep your feet happy, healthy and pain-free during pregnancy.
The easiest thing you can do to care for your feet during pregnancy? Kick them up! Sitting down with your feet elevated above your hips can help drain the fluid that has pooled in your lower body – especially if you are on your feet for most of the day. You can even elevate them while applying a cold compress to help with the draining.
4. Light Exercise
Staying active can also help improve your circulation. It also gives your body the strength it needs to support you and your baby. In fact, staying active is one of the most important ways to take care of your feet during pregnancy is to stay active. You can take short walks around your neighbourhood, do some light conditioning exercises, or try pregnancy yoga. Even flexing your foot and doing other small exercises can help reduce fluid build up, while also bringing relief to your stressed arches!