Pregnancy causes a lot of changes in a woman's body, including in the feet. In fact, according to research, pregnancy causes changes in the structure of the foot. It's believed that this is due to the body's secretion of a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy. Relaxin's role is to loosen ligaments in the body so childbirth is possible.
Another issue that can affect feet during pregnancy is weight gain and edema, which can cause additional problems with the already loosening ligaments in the feet. Here are a few common issues in the feet due to relaxin, weight gain, and edema during pregnancy and how you can avoid them.
Common Foot Problems in Pregnancy
As explained earlier, your feet change during pregnancy, and often, the changes result in discomfort and pain in your feet. Edema (swelling) is the retention of fluids in your body, which can result in swollen feet and ankles. The loosening ligaments combined with weight gain and edema can cause your arches to fall and elongate, resulting in overpronation, which is more commonly known as flat feet. You may feel a pulling sensation in the arches of your feet, which can be painful.
The pulling of the elongation can cause plantar fasciitis, which is a condition of inflammation of the band of fibrous tissue that runs from the heel to the toes called the plantar fascia. Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include sharp pain, which is primarily in the heel of the foot where the plantar fascia connects to the heel bone. The pain can also be felt in the sole of the foot and cause tenderness and limping.
Helpful Tips to Prevent Foot Problems During Pregnancy
There's nothing you should do to prevent the secretion of relaxin during pregnancy, and a healthy weight gain and moderate fluid retention during pregnancy are necessary for the development of your baby and your body's preparation for childbirth. However, you can mitigate the affects these changes have on your feet by doing the following:
- elevate your feet when resting
- wear compression socks
- place arch support inserts in shoes
- stretch your feet and calf muscles
- avoid walking barefoot
- avoid wearing high heels
If you continue to have pain, a visit to a podiatrist at a clinic like Advanced Foot Clinic is recommended. A podiatrist can fit you with orthotic footwear that will provide necessary additional support to your feet. The podiatrist can also show you various stretches and exercises that you can perform in the comfort of your home.