Pregnancy comes with significant body changes, some of which can actually take place in the feet. The added bodyweight, the fluid retention and the hormonal changes increase swelling in the foot and lower extremities, increasing the chances of foot pain and the ligament laxity may result in structural changes to the feet.
Pregnancy and Foot Swelling
There are several factors that contribute to foot swelling during pregnancy. The body produces more blood and body fluids when you are pregnant and also retains more water during the pregnancy. The venous system is also compressed as the pregnancy progresses which impairs blood flow back up to the heart. All of this leads to an increase in foot volume, leading to footwear fitting issues during the pregnancy.
Almost all of the extra fluid is lost with the birth of the child, so this problem tends to be temporary. During the pregnancy, elevating the feet and using compression/support stockings may help with the symptoms. Also, consider the Archie Thongs.
Pregnancy and Ligament Laxity
When pregnant, the hormone relaxin increases to relax the pelvis which is quite normal and is needed to facilitate the birth process. However, that hormone also affects all ligaments in the body including the foot. Combine that with the weight gain and you can see how the foot can be affected. This can decrease the arch height, increase foot pronation and increase the length of the foot. This means, a flattening foot deformity may result in other problems such as bunions, posterior tibial tendon dysfunction, as well as knee and back problems.
Foot orthotics may help protect and support the feet during pregnancy. The use of good and supportive footwear of the right size is also important. The Archies Thongs are particularly useful.
Pregnancy and Foot Pain
Several studies have shown that 40-50% of women have foot pain during pregnancy. This can range from feet that feel achy, especially while standing for long periods of time to more painful conditions, such as plantar fasciitis. The cause of these problems are mentioned above: weight gain, swollen feet and the hormone, relaxin.
The treatment of the foot pain during pregnancy will depend on the underlying cause of the pain. Please talk to your podiatrist about that.