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Your Feet While Pregnant - 3 Ways They Change

Your feet, your pregnancy

When I was pregnant with my son, I was prepared for my clothes to fit differently. It would have been a bit odd if I hadn’t increased in size at all with my growing belly. However, I wasn’t prepared for my feet to grow, causing my shoes to not fit. Come on, pregnancy. Toss pregnant women a bone here and let them continue to wear their cute shoes. Please?

All the begging in the world didn’t help. Instead, my feet both went up half a size and ballooned in width — just to add to the fun. I wasn’t able to wear adorable shoes in my last trimester. Instead, I had to resort to wearing the only shoes that fit my feet, flip flops. Thankfully, it was summer, so flip flops were in fashion. And at that point, I was all about comfort anyway, so my usual heels would not have been a good idea. I don’t know what I would have done if it was winter. While flip-flop boots exist, they shouldn’t.

I wanted to know why my feet changed so much during my pregnancy. Read on to learn why and how your feet change during pregnancy, and how orthotic insoles can help.

Shoe Size

Your feet will change by a half size or more during pregnancy. This increase in foot size is caused by the increase of the hormones estrogen and relaxin during your pregnancy. These hormones are released to relax your joints and pelvis to accommodate childbirth, but they also loosen the ligaments in your foot, causing them to expand and grow.

Your shoe size can also be affected by weight gain — and then subsequent post-pregnancy weight loss. Have you ever noticed that if you gain or lose a bit of weight, your shoe size changes? After I had my son, my shoe size went back to normal. However, a few years after that, I lost even more weight through better eating and exercise and noticed that my shoes felt looser. Imagine my surprise when I went to the store and found that my normally size 10 feet now fit into a size 9 with ease.

During pregnancy be prepared for this shoe size increase with comfortable, supportive shoes that are a half size larger than you normally wear.

Shoe Width

Your feet can also swell up during the later stages of pregnancy, as mine did.  There are a number of reasons for this. First, your body is retaining more water and fluid while you’re pregnant. This fluid winds up down at your feet, causing the swelling. Also, as your uterus grows, it will put increasing pressure on your veins, which can impede the flow of blood back to your heart. This pressure leads to increased swelling in your legs, ankles, and feet.

Here are a few ways to help prevent swollen feet during pregnancy:

  • Stay active – Take a walk down the street or around the mall. Ride an exercise bike if you can. This type of exercise gets circulation moving in your feet and decreases swelling.
  • Stay hydrated – I know this seems counter intuitive when you’re retaining water and fluid, but your body needs increased fluids while pregnant. The National Institutes of Medicine recommends about 10 cups (2.3 liters) of fluids a day during pregnancy.
  • Get in the water – Visiting a pool to stand or walk around in will help you to increase circulation and also help you to cool off, which is tough to do while pregnant, especially in the summer months.
  • Sleep on your side or with pillows – If you haven’t heard about body pillows yet, go buy one now. Sleep with this long pillow between your knees on your left side, which takes pressure off your inferior vena cava – the vein in your body that takes blood from the lower half of your body to your heart.
  • Wear compression stockings – These socks can reduce swelling. While they may not be the most stylish, if your doctor recommends them, wear them. They will help.

Arch Height

Thanks to pregnancy hormones, your arch height will decrease during pregnancy. In fact, your lowered arch height could be permanent. Researchers at the University of Iowa found that during a woman’s first pregnancy, her arch lowers in height more than during any following pregnancy.

Forty-nine women took part in the arch-height study. Their arches were measured during the first trimester and then again 19 weeks after they gave birth. From that study, it was shown that arch height significantly decreased during pregnancy and that pregnancy was associated with a permanent loss of arch height. This decrease doesn’t appear in subsequent pregnancies, showing the first pregnancy as the major cause.

As your arch height decreases, this can lead to flat feet, a condition in which the arch of your foot basically touches the ground instead of being moderately elevated. Flat feet/low arch is a known cause of the following issues:

  • Foot pain in your heel (plantar fasciitis) or arch
  • Swelling along the inside of your ankle
  • Increased knee and hip problems

How Orthotic Insoles Help

During your pregnancy, your weight increases, and this will shift your sense of balance as well as increase pressure on your hips, knees, ankles, and feet as you walk. With the help of orthotic insoles, you can give your arches the support they deserve.

Orthotic insoles will give your growing, expanding, and potentially flatter feet the support they need by fully supporting your arch while also stabilizing your heel to concentrate the fatty pad underneath your heel bone. This will prevent overpronation while giving you firm, comfortable support.

You may be asking if the orthotic insoles you wore before will fit you during pregnancy. With the changes to your foot's length, width, and arch height, it's more likely than not that you will need new insoles during pregnancy.

When you’re pregnant, comfort is one of your top priorities. By using orthotic insoles, your feet will thank you as they’re helping you carry your soon-to-be baby. Stride on in comfort with the use of orthotic insoles that are right for your feet.

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