Pregnancy and Your Feet

Pregnancy and Your Feet

A Monthly Foot Fact from

“Oh, my aching, swollen feet!” Most pregnant women, already handling so many changes in their bodies, find themselves echoing this complaint.

It’s no wonder. Changes in body shape and weight triggered by pregnancy can effect the lower extremities in numerous ways. Tired, sore and swollen feet are common. Understanding the causes of foot pain and learning easy home treatments can help women step more comfortably throughout these special nine months.

Dr. Suzanne Belyea, Medical Director of, explains that the natural weight gain experienced during pregnancy alters a woman’s center of gravity, changing her weight-bearing stance and adding pressure to the knees and feet.

“One of the most common foot conditions brought on by pregnancy is over-pronation, or a weakening of the arches commonly known as flat feet,” Dr. Belyea says. Over-pronation can make walking painful and increase strain on the calves and/or back.

If flat feet are left untreated, serious disorders such as Metatarsalgia (ball of foot pain) and Plantar Fasciitis, (intense heel pain) can result. The condition can be avoided or treated, however, by wearing properly fitting footwear that provides extra arch support. Dr. Belyea recommends comfortable athletic shoes, as well as over-the-counter orthotics that support the arches or cushion a painful heel or ball of the foot.

Another common foot condition brought on by pregnancy is edema, or swelling, caused by pressure from the uterus that leads to hampered circulation. Edema generally occurs later in pregnancy and is considered normal unless accompanied by swelling of the face or hands.

Tips for treating swollen feet include:

– Elevate the feet as often as possible
– Wear seamless socks that do not constrict circulation
– When driving for a long period, take regular breaks to stretch the legs and promote circulation
– Check with a doctor about an exercise program; walking is usually recommended
– Eat a well-balanced diet and avoid foods high in salt that can cause fluid retention
– If any pain persists, see a doctor.

One important step toward easing the pressure on swollen feet is to a visit a local pedorthist. Pedorthists specializes in fitting shoes and orthotics to alleviate foot problems. Periodic measuring is recommended because the feet may increase in size during the pregnancy. A local expert and dealers who provide foot products for pregnant women can be found through the Dealer Network at

With all of the changes taking place during pregnancy, it’s important to remember that you are now walking for two. So if a spouse, partner or friend offers a foot massage, just say yes!

For more information on foot conditions and treatments, visit

last update: July 2008

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