Natural weight gain during pregnancy completely alters a woman’s center of gravity. This causes a new weight-bearing stance and added pressure to the knees, ankles and feet.
Two of the most common foot problems experienced by pregnant woman are over-pronation and flattening of the feet and swelling of the foot, ankle and legs. These problems can lead to pain at the heel, arch, or the ball-of-foot. Many women may also experience leg cramping and varicose veins due to weight gain. Because of this, it is important for all pregnant women to learn more about foot health during their pregnancy to help make this nine month period more comfortable.
There is a hormonal surge that causes ligaments in the pelvis to relax allowing for the delivery of the baby. Unfortunately, the ligaments in the feet also relax. This leads to the arch flattening out upon weight bearing and the feet roll inward when walking, known as over-pronation. This can create extreme stress or inflammation on the plantar fascia, the fibrous band of tissue that runs from the heel to the forefoot.
Swelling in the feet, ankle and legs normally occurs in the latter part of your pregnancy. Edema results from the extra blood accumulated during pregnancy. The enlarging uterus puts pressure on the blood vessels in the pelvis and legs causing circulation to slow down and blood to pool in the lower extremities. The total water fluid in the body remains the same as before pregnancy, however it becomes displaced. When feet are swollen, they can become purplish in color. Sometimes extra water is retained during pregnancy, adding to the swelling.
What can I do to help my feet and legs during my pregnancy?
Look for supportive, yet comfortable shoes to wear daily. Wearing maternity compression stockings can help prevent unsightly varicose veins and spider veins from forming by keeping the swelling to a minimum and will make your legs feel more comfortable during your pregnancy. If your feet are persistently painful, use of an over-the-counter or custom made orthotics can be an excellent way of reducing stress on your feet.