Everyone knows that a woman’s body goes through many physical changes during pregnancy, but most people don’t think about the changes that occur in a pregnant woman’s feet. If more women were aware of how pregnancy can affect their feet then they would end up more comfortable throughout their pregnancy and especially towards the end when swelling is more prevalent.
Being 39 weeks pregnant I can tell you that pregnancy has had a huge impact on my lower legs, ankles, and feet. If it weren’t for the compression socks that I wear on a daily basis the swelling, and discomfort associated with the swelling, would be far worse. Since I knew what could happen to my feet—having been in the shoe business for over 10 years—I took the necessary measures early on and have only been wearing shoes that are the proper size, using orthotics in shoes that do not provide enough arch support, avoiding walking barefoot, and wearing compression socks to prevent swelling. I will tell you why these four things are vital for a pregnant woman (and for many other people as well, this does not only apply to pregnant women).
First of all, it is always important to wear the proper size shoe in order to prevent bunions, hammertoes, and other foot problems. It is also important to wear supportive shoes, or shoes with orthotics, in order to prevent over-pronation and collapsed arches, both of which can occur during pregnancy due to weight gain, loose ligaments, and an altered center of gravity. If pregnant women do not wear shoes that support their arch then they risk their arches falling and their feet spreading out, which may or may not go back to normal once they have the baby. This is why not walking around barefoot is also important. Walking barefoot does not provide the feet with arch support or shock absorption. From experience I can tell you that the added weight I am now carrying around causes my feet to hurt despite wearing supportive and cushioned shoes, so I can only imagine how much worse they would feel if I wore cheap slip-ons or flat as a pancake flip-flops.
Towards the latter part of pregnancy many women experience some degree of edema (swelling) in their ankles and feet. Compression socks or stockings can be worn to help with swelling and to help prevent varicose veins that sometimes occur during pregnancy. From experience I can say that the swelling is not only unsightly but uncomfortable as well. Sometimes it feels as if the skin on my calves, ankles, and feet is being stretched to the maximum and it is uncomfortable and sometimes painful.
To wrap things up, it is important for a pregnant woman to wear proper footwear, have her feet measured during and after pregnancy, stay as active as possible, and to do her best to stay within the recommended range of weight gain for her body type. These things will help keep a pregnant woman’s feet healthy and happy throughout her pregnancy. After all, a pregnant woman has enough to worry about without having to add achy feet to the list!