What to Expect When You’re Expecting: Foot Edition

pregnant person sitting cross legged holding their stomach

Congratulations, you’re expecting! This is an exciting time where there will be lots of changes to your body.  A lot of expecting women do not realise that this includes your feet!

Keep reading to have all of your questions regarding pregnancy and your feet answered!

How Can My Feet Change During Pregnancy?

There are a variety of ways your feet might change during pregnancy, including:

  • Increase in foot size

During pregnancy, there is an increase in both the estrogen and a hormone called relaxin, which helps to prepare the body for childbirth. The body is prepared by increasing the space within the joints and allows for increased movement.  This leads to increased laxity of the ligaments throughout the body, including the feet.  Which can ultimately lead to an increase in the size of your feet.  This is normal and experienced in a large percentage of pregnant women.  It may mean that you need to update your footwear (yay for shopping!).

  • Increased swelling/fluid retention

During pregnancy, your uterus expands to accommodate your growing baby. As your uterus grows, it can place excessive pressure on the vein that carries blood from your lower limbs back up towards the heart. This may result in what’s called a venous insufficiency and can lead to swelling of the feet.  There is also an increase in your blood volume to help support your baby.  It can increase by up to 50% to meet the increased demand of delivering nutrients to both you and your baby.

  • Increased weight

Weight gain during pregnancy results in more pressure being placed on your entire body, particularly in your legs and feet.  This weight increase can also shift your centre of gravity to allow your body to move as efficiently as possible.  However, this then places more pressure on your lower back, hips, knees and feet, and can cause biomechanical changes.

 

What Issues May I Experience in My Feet During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy is different for every person, however, some of the common things your feet may experience include:

  • Callus and corns

Callus and corns develop on areas where there is excessive pressure. As we know, there is increased pressure placed on the feet during pregnancy due to necessary weight gain and therefore, the risk of developing callus and corns is a little higher during pregnancy.

  • Ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails can occur due to a variety of reasons including tight footwear and incorrect cutting techniques. Increased swelling, a larger foot size or an inability to cut your nails properly whilst pregnant can all lead to ingrown toenails.

  • Cramping

Cramping of the legs and feet is common during pregnancy and can occur due to a magnesium deficiency, fatigue or pressure on nerves close to the uterus that are impacted as the uterus grows.

  • Varicose veinsexample of varicose veins that are behind the knees

Varicose veins are a sign of venous insufficiency. This means that the veins are having trouble getting the blood back to heart and are often seen in areas where there is also swelling.

  • Plantar fasciitis 

The plantar fascia is a ligamentous band that runs from the heel to the forefoot and is integral in helping maintain your arch.  Inflammation of the plantar fascia is common in pregnancy due to the increased pressure placed on the feet.

 

How Can I Manage My Foot Health During Pregnancy?

There are lots of things you can do to make your feet more comfortable and ensure they are healthy during pregnancy.

  • Footwear

Footwear helps to provide support to the entire body and is important not only in pregnancy but throughout your lifespan. By ensuring that you wear supportive footwear during pregnancy, you may be able to reduce your level of discomfort. Wearing appropriate footwear can also reduce the risk of falls during pregnancy.

  • Socks

Wear socks that are not too tight around your ankles to avoid disrupting your circulation and swelling. 

  • Regular exercisepregnant woman sitting on an exercise balance ball

Exercise has many health benefits, including in pregnancy. Consult your doctor before performing any physical activity during pregnancy to ensure that it is safe for you.

  • Drinking water

Staying hydrated is extremely important and will help to reduce your risk of cramping.

  • Elevate your feet and legs

This is particularly important for those women suffering with significant swelling during pregnancy. Elevating your legs and feet above the level of your hips will help the veins transport your blood back to your heart and can relieve your swelling.

  • See a Podiatrist for your foot health needs

We are here to help! If you have any concerns regarding your feet, come and see us. We can help with general foot care, foot pain and discomfort, as well as answer any other questions you might have regarding your foot health.

You can visit Watsonia Podiatry by calling us on 03 9432 2689 or click here to book online.