Pregnancy & Feet
Pregnant women experience many changes throughout their body and their feet are no exception. Pregnancy triggers many different changes in a woman's body and with it many complaints. Some of these complaints, often overlooked, are foot pain, swelling, and aching in the legs.
Two of the most common foot problems experienced by pregnant woman are flat feet (over-pronation) and swollen feet (edema). Other problems also include ingrown toenails, heel pain, arch pain or aching in the ball-of-foot. Many women may also experience hot feet, leg cramping, cracked heels, and varicose veins. Because of this, it is important for all pregnant women to learn more about foot health during their pregnancy to help make the nine months of pregnancy more comfortable.
Foot Pain & Flat Feet
The most common complaint of pregnant women at our podiatry clinic is foot pain. This can range from a dull ache to more serious pressure related problem such as plantar fasciitis or posterior tibial tendinitis. During pregnancy, the increase in body weight coupled with changes in gait (the way you walk) and pregnancy hormones put more stress on the feet. The extra kilograms gained during pregnancy over a short period of time add extra pressure and load to the feet and you may notice that they grow tired more quickly. Changes in posture and balance may also result in changes in the way you walk and the way the foot functions. In most cases the foot becomes flatter and with this increase in "over pronation" comes all the problems associated with. Simply put, if the extra stresses on the feet are greater than the foot can deal with, then pain develops.
Flat feet aka over-pronation, is caused when a person's arch flattens on weight bearing causing their feet roll inward when walking. In some cases the effect of over-pronation can make walking very painful and can increase the strain on the feet calves and/or back. The reason many pregnant women suffer from over-pronation is related to hormones and the added pressure on the body as a result of weight gain. Over-pronation is also very prominent in people who have an increased flexibility or those who already have slightly flater feet.
In some cases, flat feet can create extreme stress or inflammation on the plantar fascia (plantar fasciitis), the fibrous band of tissue that runs from the heel to the forefoot and other structures of the foot. If your are experiencing problems due to over-pronation it is important that you treat it not only for pain relief but also to prevent other foot conditions from developing such as Plantar Fasciitis, Heel Spurs, Metatarsalgia, Post-Tib Tendonitis and/or Bunions.
Over-Pronation can be treated if needed conservatively with either a custom or "ready-made" orthotics. These orthotics should be designed with appropriate arch support and medial rearfoot posting to correct the over-pronation and can be fitted and purchased from your podiatrist. Proper fitting footwear is also very important in treating over-pronation. Choose comfortable footwear that provides extra support and shock absorption.
Hot and Swollen Feet
Swellling in the feet otherwise referred to as oedema, normally occurs in the latter part of pregnancy due to a number of changes that occur with in the body. Increased blood volume, extra pressure on the blood vessels in the legs and pelvis and increased water retention all have an effect.
Hot and burning sensations in the feet are also very common in pregnancy, not only due to a sudden increase in weight and swelling, but because of hormonal changes that cause a slight increase in body temperature. Many pregnant women report that their feet can become hot and irritable as they grow tired even leading to a loss of sleep in extreme cases. It should be mentioned though that there are other more serious conditions that can cause these symptoms so if you have any concerns you may like to have it assessed by your podiatrist to rule out any other potential causes.
Pregnancy related swelling in the feet can be minimized by the following methods:
- Elevate your feet as often as possible. If you have to sit for long periods of time, place a small stool by your feet to elevate them.
- Wear proper fitting footwear. Footwear that is too narrow or short will constrict circulation.
- It swelling becomes a big problem you may need to have your feet measured several times throughout your pregnancy. They will probably change sizes.
- Wear seamless socks that do not constrict circulation such as those designed for diabetics.
- If you are driving for a long period of time, take regular breaks to stretch your legs to promote circulation.
- Exercise regularly to promote overall health; walking is the best exercise.
- Drink plenty of water to keep the body hydrated. This helps the body retain less fluid.
- Eat a well-balanced diet and avoid foods high in salt that can cause water retention.
Cooling foot gels, foot spas and regular bathing of the feet, followed by wearing open toed shoes when able will help to keep feet feeling cool and refreshed, and hopefully aiding in a good night’s sleep.
Comfort is of the essence when you are pregnant, in order to ensure a smooth and enjoyable pregnancy, so good quality and comfortable footwear is essential. If your job requires you to wear heels, try a lower heel. Your employers have a legal responsibility to safeguard your health and well being and must allow for these modifications. If you are having problems finding comfortable shoes, a good shoe fitter or a podiatrist may be able to point you in the right direction by assessing your feet.
Due to the additional stress put on feet during pregnancy, hard skin (callus) often results. Many women enjoy the chance to sit back and have their feet pampered at these times. However, callus should be treated by a registered Podiatrist if required to make sure you don't get any infections that could impact your health. The advantage of seeing a podiatrist is that whilst there you can also safely have your nails done which is always greatly appreciated when your feet become harder to reach. See our Podiatry spa website for ways you can pamper yourself whilst pregnant.
- Childrens feet
- Ingrown toenails
- Swollen feet
- Heel Pain
- Cracked Heels
- Cramps in the feet and legs