Pregnancy triggers a wide range of changes in a women's body.
A common complaint of women during pregnancy is foot pain, along with swelling and increased foot size.
Women adjust their walking and posture during pregnancy to improve stability; this is done to accommodate a shift in weight distribution. As the baby grows, the rest of mom's body shifts to make room for the growing belly (and the added weight), gradually a larger curve forms in the lower back and causes the pelvic to tilt forward. These changes alter her centre of gravity and change her weight bearing stance. These changes can increase the demand on the muscles in the hips, legs and ankles.
There are two factors that cause a change in the foot during pregnancy:
1. The foot size increases due to swelling: raised hormone levels result in fluid retention during pregnancy. Fluid retention is pronounced in your feet and ankles because the growing uterus places extra pressure on the veins in the pelvis impairing the return of blood to the heart resulting in excess fluid accumulating in the feet. Also, blood vessels are smallest in the feet so they have a hard time accommodating the extra fluid resulting in swelling; it's not unusual for an expectant mom to go up a half to a full size in shoes. Squeezing your feet into your regular size footwear can become uncomfortable.
2. During pregnancy the body releases a hormone called relaxin to loosen up the ligaments in the pelvis. However, relaxin has an effect on all the ligaments throughout the body, thus loosening the ligaments that support the feet. When the ligaments that support the feet stretch, the arch of the foot flattens and causes the feet to effectively grow in length and width.
Tips for relief:
1. Elevate your feet to assist with blood flow
2. Hydrate, dehydration worsens swelling
3. Compression socks can also promote circulation and help the blood flow to your heart through the venous system
4. Shop for appropriate fitting footwear - shop later in the day when your feet are at their largest. Shoes shouldn't need to be broken in, they should fit before you leave the store. Avoid pointy-toed shoes and high heels.
5. Custom-made foot orthotics can help support your foot posture. Extra support provided by orthotics can prevent or correct the arch of the foot from collapsing while at the same time taking the stress and pressure off the foot's relaxing ligaments.