First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy. Whether it’s baby number one or number four, it’s an exciting new adventure making its way into your world to change it for the better.
During these few months while a new life is forming inside you, doing whatever you need to make your pregnancy as comfortable as you can will help you manage all the changes a new baby brings.
Your feet take one of the biggest burdens of your pregnancy – literally
If your normal BMI (Body Mass Index) is in the healthy range of 18-25, then an ideal weight gain when you’re pregnant is between 11-16 kgs. That’s a considerable amount of additional weight that your feet have to cope with. It’s no surprise that sore feet are a part of pregnancy.
The most common foot problems in pregnancy
About 75% of women experience oedema during pregnancy which is swelling of the feet and ankles. Temperature fluctuations, additional weight and body chemistry changes all contribute to shifting more fluid into the tissues. This becomes more apparent as the pregnancy progresses.
Oedema generally resolves itself after the baby is born and you can take some extra care to minimise the swelling which we discuss below. But if there is sudden swelling around the feet, hands, or face, then we recommend you visit your GP for a check-up immediately as this could be a symptom of preeclampsia.
Pronation – feet rolling in
During pregnancy, a hormone called Relaxin is released into the blood stream which serves to soften the ligaments and tissues to prepare the body for the baby to grow. This also softens the ligaments in the feet, ankles and calves. This added strain causes the arches to flatten out making the feet roll inwards.
This pronation changes your gait and your centre of gravity and can cause pain in the sole soles of your feet, as well as the ankles and lower back.
When the feet begin to roll inwards, another problem that may occur is Plantar Fasciitis. The band of tissue between your heel and forefoot is strained and you feel this especially in the morning or after long periods of sitting down. Again this can resolve itself after pregnancy but for this particular condition we recommend some care and attention to ensure your foot returns to normal after the baby is born.
Additional weight, dehydration, and relaxin which relaxes the ligaments in the foot and causes the heel to spread out, can all contribute to getting cracked heels. Proper footwear with enclosed heels and hydration can minimise the incidence of cracked heels.
How to care for your feet during pregnancy
- Elevation – elevate your feet as often as possible to reduce swelling in the feet and ankles.
- Hydrate – drink enough water and stay hydrated, this will help the body retain less fluid
- Keep moving – keep mobile but at your pace, walking and gentle yoga are excellent for pregnant women.
- Compression socks – these are effective for pregnant women who are experiencing swelling. Also 30% of women develop varicose veins during pregnancy, and 70% develop them in the first trimester of pregnancy, so compression socks will help reduce them.
- Wear comfortable and well fitting shoes – forget the heels for a few months, wear proper shoes that are supportive. Preferably no thongs or slides and shoes with enclosed heels.
- Foot rubs – a foot rub by a loved one is always good for both mum and baby!
- Stretch the foot and calves – gently stretch the foot and calves every day to ease the tension.
- Wear orthotics – if pronation is causing too much pain in the feet, then we’ll fit you with orthotics to relieve the pressure on your arches.
Give your feet some extra care while you’re pregnant
Pregnancy is a time where some extra care of your feet will benefit not just yourself but also your unborn baby. The whole body tenses up when there is foot pain. Our gentle podiatrists will help take the pressure off your feet and make your pregnancy a more comfortable one. Our podiatry clinics are located in Adelaide, Stirling and Mount Barker.