This might come as a big surprise, but your pregnancy is causing some physical changes in your body. For example, if you look down, you may notice your belly is a bit rounder and bigger than it was just 3-4 months ago. Don’t be alarmed! As we understand it, that’s completely normal when you’re having a baby.
(If you’re a guy, on the other hand, that means it’s time to cut back on the pizza and beer, start an exercise program, and stop skipping the produce section when you go grocery shopping!)
Okay, there are certainly some body changes you just naturally expect when you become pregnant. We bet there are others, though, you weren’t aware of – like the various foot problems that can develop during pregnancy.
Whether you were aware of this fact or not, there are several ways feet are affected when you’re expecting. This includes:
- Swollen feet and ankles – The technical term for this issue is edema, and it’s rather common for pregnant women. There are several reasons swelling happens in the lower limbs, like the increase in bodily fluids produced during pregnancy and difficulty for blood to circulate back up when an expanding womb starts pressing against your blood vessels. Of course, a major cause of this is simply gravity.
- Foot changes– You probably wouldn’t think about this without prompting, but it makes sense that weight gain from pregnancy causes feet to become wider. (It might help to think about pushing down on a marshmallow and how it expands horizontally. Same basic concept here.)
In addition, your body creates and circulates the hormone relaxin as part of the pregnancy process. This hormone is intended to relax ligaments in preparation for the birth of your child, but it also loosens ligaments in your feet and contributes to the widening.
What all of this means is that you should give some attention—and we know there’s already a lot on your mind—to how your shoes are fitting. If they become tight, pick up some wider or bigger ones to prevent various foot issues. If you decide to get new shoes, try them on later in the day when swelling is greatest.
- “London” arches – In the same way the additional weight from your growing baby can contribute to feet becoming wider, it can also lead to fallen arches. When arches fall and feet become flat, it can lead to the biomechanical abnormality known as overpronation. Feet naturally roll inward with every step, excessive rolling inward places additional pressure in areas not accustomed to the forces. To help with this, we may prescribe specific types of shoes or orthotics.
- Heel pain – It’s normal to gain weight during pregnancy, and this is not something to be overly concerned about. However, the additional weight can result in excessive strain and stress on the plantar fascia. Combine this with ligament laxity and swelling and there is an increased risk of plantar fasciitis, which is the leading cause of heel pain for adults, pregnant or not. If you begin to have intense, sharp pain on the bottom of your heel—especially first thing in the morning or following extended periods of rest or inactivity—request an appointment with your go-to foot doc!
- Muscle cramps – Fatigued muscles, heightened concentration of calcium, and pressure on blood vessels and nerves from the expanding womb can all contribute to muscle cramps in the lower limbs during pregnancy. Cramps in the feet and legs are most commonly experienced during your second trimester, often at night.
If you are experiencing any of these foot problems during your pregnancy and need advice, additional information, or professional treatment, we are here to help! Simply contact us online right now or request an appointment with Jeffrie C. Leibovitz, D.P.M. by calling (317) 545-0505.