Pregnancy and Foot Health

It is important during pregnancy as well as nursing to have medications evaluated to see if they may be harmful to the baby.  Please let Dr. Hoy know and treatment for various conditions may need to be changed or delayed.  For example, wart treatments may need to change, elective surgeries may need to be delayed, etc.

Pregnancy causes the body to retain more fluid than usual, and this is often referred to as edema. This generally causes the feet to become swollen, tired, and uncomfortable. Typically, this will worsen during the third trimester, and oral medication is generally not recommended which may be in the best interest for the mother and baby. Several options are suggested to alleviate the discomfort, and these may include elevating the feet as often as possible, exercising regularly, and avoiding standing for long periods of time. It’s advised to stretch your legs frequently if you spend a  great deal of time traveling, in addition to wearing compression stockings if the swelling becomes unmanageable. Please consider scheduling a consultation with Dr. John Hoy from Seattle Foot and Ankle Center if you would like additional information regarding any concerns you may have about your feet while pregnant.

What Foot Problems Can Arise During Pregnancy?

One problem that can occur is overpronation, which occurs when the arch of the foot flattens and tends to roll inward.  This can cause pain and discomfort in your heels while you’re walking or even just standing up, trying to support your baby.

Another problem is edema, or swelling in the extremities. This often affects the feet during pregnancy but tends to occur in the later stages.

How Can I Keep My Feet Healthy During Pregnancy?

  • Wearing orthotics can provide extra support for the feet and help distribute weight evenly
  • Minimize the amount of time spent walking barefoot
  • Wear shoes with good arch support
  • Wear shoes that allow for good circulation to the feet
  • Elevate feet if you experience swelling
  • Massage your feet
  • Get regular, light exercise, such as walking, to promote blood circulation to the feet

Pregnancy and Foot Health

Because a woman’s weight changes during pregnancy, more pressure is brought to bear on both the legs and the feet. This weight shift can cause two major foot problems: pronation, also known as flat feet, as well as edema, which is swelling of the feet. Pronation occurs when the arch of the foot flattens, causing the foot to roll inwards when the individual is walking, and can aggravate the plantar fascia tissues located along the bottom of the feet. If these tissues become inflamed, a pregnant woman can experience pain in the heel of the foot as well as severe foot pain while walking or standing. Swelling of the feet, or edema, often occurs in the later stages of pregnancy. It is caused by slow circulation and water retention, and may turn the feet a light purple color.

To keep feet in good health and prevent pronation, pregnant women should avoid walking barefoot and be sure they are wearing shoes that offer good arch support. A device known as an orthotic can be added to regular footwear in order to provide additional support for the feet during pregnancy. Any expectant mother whose feet hurt should first check to see if the shoes she is wearing are old, worn out and not offering the proper support necessary for distributing the weight of her body during pregnancy.

To treat edema of the feet, a good start is to wear quality footwear which offers support and good circulation. Keep feet elevated whenever possible by using a foot stool while seated. Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water to prevent water retention in the feet. Any swelling that occurs in only one foot should be examined as soon as possible by a doctor.

Good foot health during pregnancy can help expectant mothers avoid foot pain that leads to other health problems. Massaging the feet and doing regular gentle exercise like walking aids foot health by contributing to good circulation. Supportive shoes are also a good investment that will support foot health during pregnancy.