Pregnancy and podiatry
Nobody told you that your feet would hurt as well! The weight gain experienced during pregnancy places a huge amount of unexpected pressure on your feet. Your centre of gravity shifts as your baby grows, and it’s common for pregnant women to suffer from foot pain, swelling, leg cramps and varicose veins. The good news is that you may feel better after receiving proper foot care.
With extra weight and force placed on your feet, one of the main problems during pregnancy is flat feet. Increased weight causes the bone structures in your arches to flatten and your feet to roll inwards. This can be incredibly painful as other parts of your feet and legs — your tendons, ligaments and muscles — are all working harder to keep you upright.
Another issue during pregnancy is swelling. As your uterus grows to accommodate your baby, the flow of blood and fluids to your extremities can be compromised. Fluid can build up around your feet and ankles, and this can lead to painful swelling. As long as the swelling is the same in both feet, this is normal. If you have sudden swelling, swelling that is noticeably different between your feet, or that appears in your hands or face, contact your maternal caregiver immediately.
There are treatments available to relieve foot pain. Nine months is a long time to be uncomfortable and remember – your feet shouldn’t hurt!
1. Wear comfortable, supportive shoes with a cushioned innersole; your feet will thank you for them as they won’t have to work so hard to keep you stable. You may find that with swelling you will need a shoe size bigger that what you are used to. Get your feet professionally measured and avoid wearing shoes that are too tight.
2. Wear socks without an elastic cuff and avoid anything that will restrict circulation to your feet.
3. Take in regular exercise to keep the blood circulating around your body. Walking, swimming and yoga are good options as they are low impact and will be easy on your feet while giving you the workout your body needs. Swimming is particularly recommended because the force of the water on your body actually helps to bring swelling down. If you are sitting for long periods of time (e.g. at work) be sure to stand up and have a walk around throughout the day.
4. Stretch! If you notice cramps in your feet or calves stand up and have a good stretch to relieve the pain. Remember that your muscles and ligaments are working really hard, so show them some TLC by stretching just as you would after exercising.
5. Elevate your feet as much as possible to minimise swelling. Keep a footrest or a box under your desk at work so you can keep your feet up at the office.
6. Avoid crossing your legs as that will restrict blood flow and increase swelling.
7. Drink plenty of water. Drinking more water won’t make you retain more water, so keep up fluids.
8. Eat healthy! Make sure you’re eating loads of healthy foods and a well-balanced diet. Lay off the salt as it will cause you to retain more water.
9. Sleep on your left side; this opens up your blood vessels and will encourage more fluid to flow upwards from your feet.
10. Ingrown toenails can be a risk resulting from tight shoes that push the skin around nails cut too short. Keep your nails healthy and check them regularly for signs of injury.
11. Consider the use of compression stockings which may help prevent or lessen varicose veins.