Pregnancy And Your Foot Health

By Gary N. Friedlander DPM, FACFAS and Jay C. Larson DPM
February 12, 2018

Whether this is your first child, or you have many, newborn babies start new chapters in life. During pregnancy, the body undergoes many changes to accommodate the new bundle of joy, including the feet. Natural weight gain occurs, and this alters the mother’s traditional weightbearing stance into a new stance due to a change in the woman’s center of gravity. As a result, additional strain is added to the knees and feet and a pregnant woman may turn her feet outwards for stability. As a result, this adds unnecessary stress to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the feet and cause pain, inflammation, or other foot problems. Therefore, it is important for pregnant women to pay extra attention to their feet during pregnancy and after the birth.

Common Foot Problems During Pregnancy

Did you know it is common to experience foot pain and swollen feet during pregnancy? This is often overlooked and should be addressed when it is noticed. Swelling of the feet commonly occurs since blood circulation, and hormone levels are increased during pregnancy. This causes the body to retain water and makes it possibly to deliver nutrient to your growing baby effectively. However, a side effect is swelling due to the smaller blood vessels in the foot, and ankle unable to handle the extra volume of fluid retained. Another foot problem associated with pregnancy is ligament laxity, which can loosen the ligamentous support of your feet. This is due to a hormone (Relaxin) that is released to help loosen the ligaments of the birth canal during delivery. However, this hormone targets other ligaments, and the foot and ankle ligaments can be affected. As a result, this can cause the foot to flatten abnormally (hyper-pronation), or collapse.

How to Minimize Foot Discomfort During Pregnancy

The effects of pregnancy on your feet do not have to keep you from your daily activities. The following are ways to help minimize the discomfort experienced in your feet during pregnancy:

  • Choose comfortable, stable shoes that help provide extra support, and shock absorption

  • Ensure your footwear is properly fitted to avoid constriction of blood circulation

  • Keep your feet elevated when you can

  • Drink plenty of water and minimize foods with a high salt content to help minimize fluid retention

  • Prescription orthotics

  • Exercise (as tolerated) to improve blood circulation and avoid it pooling in your legs

  • Foot massages can help aid circulation and reduce swelling

When Should I See a Podiatrist?

Most of the effects explained are normal, but can potentially lead to serious pregnancy complications. It is important to address any concerns early in the pregnancy to avoid any issues and help minimize discomfort throughout pregnancy. You should see a podiatrist for any of the following reasons:

  • Constant swelling that does not resolve

  • Receive regular foot measurements to ensure footwear is properly fitted

  • Obtain a prescription for custom orthotics

  • Treat any other associated foot problems causing consistent or unresolved pain

If you are pregnant and have been experiencing pain or discomfort, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona, and have all your treatment options presented to you and ensure you and your newborn maintain healthy feet.

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