If you’ve landed here because you’re pregnant and want to know what to expect when it comes to your feet – or are already noticing changes and want to know why and if it’s normal, then you’ve come to the right place. Firstly, a massive congrats on behalf of the My FootDr team on your pregnancy – it’s a very exciting time!
As parents ourselves, we’ve experienced all of these ups and downs too – and can tell you that it’s a lot easier when you’re prepared for what may be ahead. Today, we’re talking about three ways that pregnancy can affect your feet and what you can do about them to keep you walking all the way to the delivery room.
What to expect: Swollen feet, legs and ankles
Time of impact: Often around 5 months +
Why (the short answer, please): Your blood volume increases by about 50% during pregnancy, your uterus can put pressure on the surrounding structures, and you have more hormones in your system that cause you to stretch more easily.
Explained: Your increase in blood volume is important in helping transport extra oxygen and nutrients to your baby. In fact, approximately one-fifth of your pregnancy blood supply goes to your uterus. As your uterus grows, it can also put pressure on the vena cava vein that is responsible for helping return blood from your legs back to the heart, slowing the flow. Although swelling can occur anywhere in the body, it is more likely to develop in your feet, ankles and legs due to gravity.
What should you do: Elevate your feet and legs about the level of your hips (or heart if you’re happy lying down) to allow the blood to return easier, and drink plenty of water to help promote healthy kidney function.
What to expect: Bigger feet, flexible joints
Time of impact: Second trimester onwards
Why (the short answer, please): More oestrogen and relaxin in your body cause your ligaments to become more flexible (temporarily) to allow your body to change as your baby grows. This spreads your bones, and results in a larger foot size.
Explained: Ligaments connect your bones, helping to keep them together. The hormone relaxin (aptly named) lets your ligaments loosen, thereby increasing the spacing between bones to allow your body to grow and change as it accommodates your growing baby. Consequently, the many ligaments that support the structure of your feet also loosen, leading to an increase in foot size for many women, which can also be increased by swelling too.
What should you do: During pregnancy, keep your feet as supported and stable as possible. As your ligaments are more flexible, you have a higher risk of spraining your ankle because the ligaments supporting the ankle aren’t as strong as they normally are. Wearing shoes that help keep you stable and supported is always a good idea during this time, as is avoiding uneven surfaces like walking over rocky surfaces. Stay mindful of your foot size too – if you need larger shoes for this time, get them – it’s much better than the alternative of getting painful blisters on your feet that make it difficult to walk.
In the long-term, your joints and ligaments should firm up once the baby is born and the hormones leave your system. Your feet should return to normal too – though some women experience a permanent increase in shoe size.
What to expect: Heel pain (plantar fasciitis)
Time of impact: Second trimester onwards
Why (the short answer, please): Increased weight + looser ligaments means a flatter arch, which can damage the plantar fascia, resulting in heel pain.
Explained: The plantar fascia is a connective tissue that helps support your foot and arch. It starts on the bottom of your heel and fans out to your toes. While weight gain is a normal and healthy part of pregnancy, it’s also a contributing factor to plantar fasciitis. Combined with looser ligaments and flatter feet (see above), the plantar fascia is repeatedly strained at the bottom of the heel, and an injury (plantar fasciitis) develops.
What should you do: Keep your foot and arch supported as much as possible. Orthotics are a great way to do this while wearing closed. If you need a cooler option there are orthotic sandals, and orthotic slippers for around the house. If you reduce the amount of time that your plantar fascia is flattened and strained, you can help prevent the onset of plantar fasciitis.
What to expect: Fungal nail infections
Time of impact: Anytime
Why (the short answer, please): Your body and immune system are working tirelessly throughout your pregnancy to support and protect both you and your baby. This means that it may not be as focused on things like fungal nail infections, which are largely superficial and aesthetic, with no danger posed to mum and baby.
Explained: The short answer pretty much covers it, but it may be worthwhile to note that if you already have a fungal nail infection in your early stages of pregnancy, you may notice it worsen throughout your pregnancy,
What should you do: There are many treatments available for fungal nail infections – you’ll just need to check with us their safety during pregnancy, so it is best to avoid any over the counter medications.
Need a bit of help to stay comfy on your feet during your pregnancy?
If any of your symptoms are making it difficult for you to walk comfortably, we’d love to help. At My FootDr, we understand the demands that pregnancy puts on your body – and how to help you with your problems while keeping you and baby safe.
To book an appointment, call us on 1800 366 837 or book online by clicking the booking button at the top of the page.