Pregnant Feet - Changes To Expect & Tips To Relieve Foot Pain During Pregnancy

by Casey Scofield May 29, 2015

Your feet, your pregnancy

Do you have pregnant feet pain? Many women know that pregnancy and foot problems go hand in hand. While your feet may not seem like the top priority during your pregnancy, it is important to take care of them throughout your gestation. In this post, we'll discuss common causes of foot pain while pregnant as well as some tips to help relieve the pain during and after pregnancy.

Your Feet During Pregnancy

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 during pregnancy.

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 & Your Feet After Pregnancy

Flattened arches can prove to be an enduring problem that develops during pregnancy. But this is also one of the most common foot problems after pregnancy, ut even after you lose weight.

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

Pregnancy and foot problems don't have to go together. 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.

give your feet the comfort they deserve

Pregnancy and foot problems

Do Your Feet Grow When You Are Pregnant?

In addition to the common problems related with pregnant feet noted above, it's important to know that your feet will likely grow when you are pregnant as well. Here are some feet changes to expect.

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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Casey Scofield
Casey Scofield


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