Pregnancy and your Feet

Your feet are a very important part of your body that are often overlooked and neglected until problems arise. Women that have given birth are more likely to develop lower limb musculoskeletal problems than those who have never given birth. There is also good evidence documenting an increase in foot width, length and lowered arch during pregnancy, and a permanent reduction on arch height after childbirth. During pregnancy a number of changes affect your body including hormonal and weight gain. These two factors play a combining role on your feet.

Weight

On average, an extra 12.5kg (2 stone) in weight is gained in pregnancy which can be broken down to the following areas:

Baby, Placenta, Amniotic fluid = 4.8kg

Uterus muscle increase, blood volume, extra bodily fluid, breast increase, fat increase = 7.7kg

Not only is the extra weight a potential mechanical problem for your feet, but also the rate at which it is gained. On average, a woman will gain 1-5 pounds of weight during the first trimester then 1 pound per week in the second and third. Weight is therefore gained rapidly from the second trimester and your feet will have to carry it with each step you take.

Hormonal

The ovary and placenta both produce a hormone called relaxin. During pregnancy, your body produces 7-10 times more of this hormone which is believed to increase the laxity of the ligaments at the pelvis to aid delivery. As the hormone is systemic, it will also have an effect on other ligaments in the body under stress, particularly your feet that carry all of the increased weight.

It is believed the combination of the increase in weight, and relaxin hormone are the two main contributing factors in permanently effecting the laxity of your feet during pregnancy.

Potential problems

  • Low arches and increased foot size
  • Tight shoes caused by enlarged feet
  • Discomfort in the feet due to increased pressure from weight gain

Advice

  • Wear comfortable shoes – running shoes with good arch support are usually a good choice for your feet
  • Purchase a shoe ½ a size bigger if you feel your shoes are becoming tight
  • Custom orthotics can be made for all type of shoes and will support your arch. They can also be modified to cushion / offload high pressured and uncomfortable areas

Seeing a podiatrist can get you the best foot health advice and make your pregnancy a comfortable one.

 

Steven Thomas, Specialist Podiatrist. September 2017