Talking about feet today, and if you're in the later stages of your pregnancy, you probably have taken less notice of them since your visual field has become limited by your ever-extending baby belly. That is, unless you've experienced any challenges with foot pain, or simply had to find shoes that actually fit. Like everything in our body, challenges with one area like our feet can be a link to other difficulties up the chain. Here are some common impacts that pregnancy can have on our feet and what we can do to manage them.
One size up, please.
So many women I talk to say they have had to move up a shoe size after pregnancy, and I wondered if I would. After my first pregnancy I was lucky enough to keep my favourite pair of heels, not that they actually saw much use after bub number one though. Now, we've talked previously about the normal and expected weight gain during pregnancy, and this is a change that most affects a woman’s feet during pregnancy. Changes in the centre of gravity (which moves forward as baby grows), as well as the downward impact of this weight during standing and walking can cause the arches of the feet to decrease in height and flatten out. Early research has suggested that these changes do not return to baseline values even at six weeks postpartum, and somewhere between 60 to 70 percent of the women in a longitudinal study found their feet became longer and wider. Now making me re-think my last purchase at 37 weeks pregnant in this second pregnancy...
Pregnancy foot pain, and more up the chain.
The impact of weight gain and the changes in arch height can lead to pronated feet (feet rolling inwards) as pregnancy advances. Research suggests that pregnant women also tend to have higher forefoot pressures on their dominant side when standing and when walking. This kind of altered gait pattern (I.e. how you step or walk) can cause compensatory movements and recruitment (or use) of other muscles, impacting weight-bearing through the knee, hip joint, and lower back, which for some, may lead to tightness and pain.
Flat feet, leading to over pronation, can also cause stress and inflammation of the fibrous connective tissue of the foot, known as plantar fascia, which can common problem for many people who overpronate, not just pregnant women.
Waddles, slips, trips.
By the end of pregnancy, changes in the gait pattern can lead to the well-known pregnant-woman “waddle” – just another adaptation to the changes in shape, changes centre of gravity, and changes in pressure in various parts of the feet. All these factors combined actually places pregnant women at higher risk for falls (at rates similar to the elderly). Funnily enough, I am actually part of that falls statistic, where in my previous pregnancy I decided to chase my dogs around the dog park as they broke free. Stepping out in attempt to stop my little Jack Russel, the next thing I knew, I was lying sideways on the ground. Needless to say, it scared the living daylights of everyone at the dog park to see a 35week pregnant woman hit the ground like this. Luckily all was ok with bub! Swelly, oh welly.
Extra blood and other fluids accumulate during pregnancy, and this increased volume results in swelling or oedema of the extremities. It is more common to see this sort of swelling in the feet in the later months of pregnancy, due to gravity, hormones that increase elasticity of the blood vessels and the growing uterus, which can add pressure to the blood vessels in the pelvis, leading to blood pooling in the feet and legs. Put together, all this can also add to other common changes like varicose veins, and cramping.
Happy feet in pregnancy – Prevent what you can, manage the rest.
Here are some tips to help you through:
Be aware of falls hazards, like carpets, toys and oh yea – dogs! Remember that it is ok to move more slowly, and feel limit yourself - it won't be forever.
Move and exercise regularly to keep increase blood flow and circulation to the extremities, and to manage a steady weight gain throughout your pregnancy.
Avoid standing or sitting in the same position for long periods without moving to prevent blood pooling, and put your feet up as much as you can! Yep, you have an excuse. Even in my second pregnancy, I have to keep reminding myself that I should ask for help and not to try and do everything on my own.
As much as shopping for new shoes can be a pain/ just a good excuse, try to find comfortable socks and shoes that provide good arch support.
Sleep on your left side, for the most effective blood return to the heart.
Keep hydrated – even if it feels counter-intuitive.
Contact your midwife, doctor or hospital immediately if:
You notice swelling at the start of the day that does not improve with rest or elevating your feet.
You notice swelling in the hands and face, or are experiencing visual disturbances. This may be a sign of other challenges with blood pressure any may need more urgent attention.
Understand that every pregnancy and every woman’s body is different. Knowing what to expect is the start, but don’t let it freak you out. Your feet (and body in general) may need a lot of extra attention during or after pregnancy, or you may have no symptoms at all. Either way, take it all one day at a time and know that there are ways to manage any challenges you may be facing. Keep your head high, and embrace that waddle.
#pregnancycare #shoeinserts #pregnancyfeet #freddyandco #templeandwebster #milkandlove #feedingbra #nursingbra #orthotics #hippain #pregnancysupportbelt #googleadsense #advertise #woolworths #coles #aldi #westfield #sydney #motherhood #mum #mom #parenthood #feet #shoes #shoesize #physiotherapist #womenhealth #birth #feedingbra #Breastfeeding #Baby #Abdominalseparation #Corestrength #Exercisephysiologist #Physiotherapist #Eathealthy #activepregnancy #activemum #activefamily #Healthymum #Healthykids