Expecting a new arrival is an exciting time in any mother’s life, but there is so much to take into mind. In addition to all the external matters such as crib building and baby showers, there are all the internal concerns that come with growing a life and keeping it safe. We’re sorry to throw another into the mix, but pregnancy affects feet and ankles, too. It doesn’t always have to be much of a bother if you prepare for it, however.
With pregnancy comes plenty of physical and chemical changes to a woman’s body. The growing child not only adds a significant amount of weight, but also changes her center of gravity. As an expecting mother compensates for these alterations, it tends to place more force on the knees and feet.
But that’s not all. The amount of fluid in the body also increases to provide additional nourishment for both mother and baby. Additionally, the hormone relaxin is being released through the body, which allows ligaments to loosen and bones to spread out.
So how do these combine to cause problems down beneath the belly?
Swollen Feet and Ankles – Thanks to excess fluid, minor swelling known as edema usually strikes somewhere between the 22nd and 27th weeks of pregnancy. The effects of gravity and weight being as they are, much of this swelling tends to pool in the feet and ankles. The effects can vary depending on the time day and even the outside temperature (warmer means bigger). Not every pregnancy results in edema, but about 3 out of 4 cases do.
Overpronation – Also known as flat feet, this condition causes the arches of the feet to flatten while bearing weight and each foot to roll inward while walking. This change in gait can stretch the plantar fascia that runs beneath the foot, leading to inflammation and pain. In some cases, problems can extend up the leg to the knees, making walking more painful.
Foot Widening – In addition to edema, the ligaments of the feet can loosen due to the effects of relaxin, causing the bones of the feet to spread and feet to widen. While edema and flat feet tend to go away after birth, the results of this widening may sometimes be permanent. Yes, feet can increase up to a full shoe size due to pregnancy.
Most cases of swelling and discomfort during pregnancy are perfectly normal, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything a mother-to-be can do to improve things. Here are some tips for helping to reduce swelling and reduce discomfort when pregnancy affects feet:
Take Breaks – Don’t spend too much time sitting or standing at one time. Interrupt periods on your feet or in a chair by doing the opposite, at least 5 minutes every hour.
Exercise – Getting some safe movement in such as swimming or walking can help the blood stream carry excess fluid out of the feet. Make sure to clear exercising with your obstetrician before starting.
Elevate – Keep your legs above the level of your heart when possible to help reduce swelling.
Wear Comfortable Shoes – As your feet swell and grow, you will likely need roomier shoes for comfort. Orthotic inserts might also be able to help with overpronation and provide added cushioning.
Drink Water, Limit Salt – Drinking water will actually help reduce fluid retention by flushing out sodium and waste. Consuming too much salt can help retain water, but so can having none at all. Just be moderate with your salt intake.
If the ways pregnancy is affecting your feet don’t improve well enough with the above changes, contact the Bloomington office of Dr. Kevin Powers. We can focus in on the specific causes of your discomfort and provide the advice and treatments you need for relief. Call us at (812) 333-4422. You shouldn’t expect less than the best in care.