While your feet may not seem like the top priority during your pregnancy, it is important to take care of them throughout your gestation. As your fetus grows in size, your body—including your feet—change to accommodate its development. Both overall weight gain and shifts in how you carry your weight put added stress on your feet.
Moreover, pregnancy hormones such as estrogen and relaxin are released to relax the joints and pelvis, accommodating the delivery of your baby. But these hormones also loosen your foot ligaments, causing your feet to expand. Due to these changes, pregnancy is associated with swollen feet and ankles, flattened arches, and increased shoe size.
The American Podiatric Medical Association describes the changes to your pregnant feet as follows:
“Increased weight puts more pressure on the foot, the arch flattens a bit, and the foot elongates. Just a quarter-inch increase in foot length is enough to prompt a change in shoe size.”
Changes to your arches and foot size usually only occur during your first pregnancy. In other words, you probably won’t increase a shoe size during your subsequent pregnancies.
Taking Care of Your Feet During Pregnancy
Changes in your feet can cause added discomfort. Here are some ways to alleviate foot discomfort during pregnancy:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Every woman’s body and pregnancy is different. Work with your OB-GYN to follow a healthy lifestyle for you. Eat right and continue to exercise and you should have no problem staying healthy during your pregnancy. Your feet will thank you.
- Avoid high heels. High heels will put more pressure on your feet. Wearing low heels (1 or 2 inches in height) or flats will make your feet much happier.
- Choose shoes with both comfort and support. While wearing stretchy ballet flats or loose-fitting flip flops might give your pregnant feet immediate relief, these thin-soled shoes won’t give your feet the support they need throughout the day. Try to find shoes with a thicker sole that will give you extra cushion.
Reduce Swollen Feet During Pregnancy
If your feet and ankles are swollen during pregnancy, there are some steps to follow that can relieve swelling apart from using supportive shoes and insoles:
- If possible, avoid standing for long periods of time.
- Rest your feet as much as possible. Physicians recommend resting with your feet above your heart for an hour a day. Lie on the couch and prop your feet on some cushions while you watch TV.
- Ice your ankles and feet.
Foot exercises can also help reduce swelling:
- Bend and stretch your feet up-and-down 30 times
- Rotate each foot eight times in each direction.
If you experience severe swelling in your feet and ankles that moves towards your upper extremities, see a doctor. This can be a sign of pre-eclampsia, a serious condition in which high blood pressure and protein in the urine develop later in the pregnancy (usually after the 20th week).
Flattened Arches – A Problem that Continues After Pregnancy
Flattened arches can prove to be an enduring problem that develops during pregnancy but can last even after you lose weight post-pregnancy.
Scientific research has proven that “pregnancy appears to be associated with a persistent loss of arch height and rigidity as well as greater arch drop and foot lengthening,” particularly during the first pregnancy. Researchers at the University of Iowa found that “these changes in the feet could potentially contribute to the increased risk for subsequent musculoskeletal disorders in women,” such as increased pronation and excessive stress on the hips and knees.
The same team of researchers posited that “the use of inexpensive, well-tolerated and widely available arch supporting orthoses during pregnancy could potentially protect the long-term musculoskeletal health of women.” They called for more research on the topic, but their recommendations demonstrate that orthotic insoles can provide the necessary relief and support that your pregnant feet need.
Tread Labs Supports Your Feet During Pregnancy – and Beyond
Tread Labs is an effective, low-cost option to support your feet during all of your pregnancies. In fact, our insoles address the main problems associated with foot pain and changes during and after pregnancy.
- Arch support
- Controls overpronation
- Provides structure and comfort.
Our Stride insoles have firm, yet resilient arch supports, and polyurethane foam covers that provide long-lasting comfort.
If you are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, Stride insoles can provide the comfort and support your feet need. Our risk-free service includes a 30-day fit guarantee. If the insoles do not meet your expectations for comfort and performance, send them back for a full refund. The return shipping is on us.