Having gone through a pregnancy myself, I can say I experienced most of the changes that occur to the feet whilst pregnant. Of course you can’t always plan exactly when you will fall pregnant but you will certainly appreciate it more if you pregnancy begins at the end of Summer. This will mean that most of your pregnancy will be during the cooler months. Here are some of the problems that pregnancy can have on the feet and the recommended solutions.
1- Skin is dry- During your pregnancy you will no doubt experience hormonal changes. These may affect the oil production and elasticity of your skin. One place that is greatly affected is the soles of your feet, leading to cracked heels. These can be much harder to look after especially if you are progressing through your pregnancy and your feet seem like they are 2 Kms away.
Solution: eat well, stay hydrated and moisturise your skin using a Podiatrist recommended moisturiser (or get your partner to do it for you). Exfoliating your skin can also reduce the build up of hard skin known as callous. If your skin gets to an unmanageable state you can see one of our Podiatrists who will carefully treat your skin and restore it to its healthy form.
2- Your feet can get sore- Due to the natural weight gain that pregnancy brings and the change in your centre of gravity, your feet are prone to extra pressure. This pressure can cause your feet to also pronate excessively (roll-in). This can place extra stress on the plantar fascia muscle (around your arch) causing pain and inflammation.
Solution: If you start to experience pain in your feet or notice that your feet are changing in shape you may benefit from the use of orthotics. These are custom made insoles that are placed in your shoes and provide your arches better support. Ensure that you also wear footwear with shock absorption and do avoid flat shoes such as ballet and thongs. These will not provide your feet with any support.
3- Swollen ankles and feet- remember when I made reference to the seasons earlier on! During pregnancy your feet and ankles are prone to fluid retention especially during the warmer months. The reason is your body is holding onto more fluid than usual. As the pregnancy progresses the swelling increases as there is greater pressure on the main vein which receives blood from your lower limbs. This can make your legs feel heavy and can also cause spider veins (small capillaries to appear).
Solution: Stay well hydrated. If you are weight bearing for a long period of time perhaps you should invest in properly fitted compression stockings. If you are sitting down elevate your legs using a stool. Avoid wearing constrictive socks to ensure that your circulation isn’t affected. Look out for the pattern of the fluid retention and make sure if one leg is more swollen that you visit your GP immediately.
4- Greater risk of infection: During pregnancy your immune system is affected due to hormonal changes. Whilst parts of the immune system work harder other parts may be suppressed causing the mother to be prone to infection. It is very interesting that infections such as Athlete’s foot and warts appear during this vulnerable time.
Solution: ensure that you look after the hygiene of your feet more during pregnancy. Avoid being barefoot at communal areas, spas, hotels, instead wear protective footwear. Avoid the urge to get a pedicure as this carries the risk of cross contamination of germs from the water and equipment. If your feet require some TLC then one of our experienced podiatrists can assist you.
It is very common to experience the above foot related changes whilst you are pregnant. You may even find that you need to change your footwear after giving birth as your feet may ‘grow’ half a size bigger. This is due to a hormone called relaxin which is produced in the body during pregnancy causing the ligaments to be lax. Unfortunately when combined with extra weight this can cause the ligaments in the feet to stretch out and affect the support they provide your arches.
It’s true what they say your body is never the same after pregnancy. But at least we mentioned some ways you can prevent some of these changes. It is also true what they say!! It’s all worth it in the end.