Pregnant women often complain about aching feet — and for good reason.
Weight gain, swelling and foot instability increase during pregnancy, causing soreness. Modern women also stay active longer into their pregnancies, putting more strain on their feet.
“In the last five years, I’ve seen an increase in pregnant women with foot pain because more women than ever before are active, even running marathons, during their pregnancies,” says Marybeth Crane, DPM, FACFAS, a Dallas-area foot and ankle surgeon.
But according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS), no woman has to endure sore feet during pregnancy — the pain can be treated. ACFAS offers the following guidelines for alleviating foot problems related to pregnancy:
Painful, Swollen Feet. Pregnant women often experience throbbing, swollen feet due to excess fluid, or edema, in the feet, caused by the weight and position of the baby. To reduce swelling, put your feet up whenever possible, stretch your legs frequently, wear wide, comfortable shoes and don’t cross your legs when sitting.
Arch Pain. Fatigue can cause arch pain, as can a condition called “arch fatigue” or “over pronation,” in which the arch flattens. Over pronation happens when the ligament that holds up the arch of the foot faces extreme stress. To prevent arch pain, stretch daily every morning and before and after exercise, don’t go barefoot and wear supportive low-heeled shoes.
Foot Cramps. Pregnancy increases blood volume and progesterone levels, which often result in cramping. Increasing circulation to your feet will help — try rotating your ankles and elevating your feet while sitting. If cramps persist, try a walk around the block. Stretch your calf muscles daily.
Ingrown Toenails. As your feet swell, your shoes get tighter -; and tight shoes can cause painful ingrown toenails. Wear wider shoes during your last trimester to avoid ingrown toenails. If you do experience an ingrown toenail, seek treatment with a foot and ankle surgeon. Trying to fix it yourself can make the problem worse.
You might need to buy new shoes even after the baby is born. “A permanent growth in a woman’s foot, up to half a size, can occur from the release of the same hormone, relaxin, that allows the pelvis to open to deliver the baby.” says Dr. Crane. “It makes the ligaments in your feet more flexible, causing feet to spread wider and longer.”
If foot pain persists, visit a foot and ankle surgeon to discuss treatment options.