Most of us are aware of the joys of pregnancy and what to expect whilst carrying our little bundles of joy!
Hormonal ups and downs, weight gain, varicose veins and the very attractive waddle walk we adopt in our later trimesters.
However, very little attention is paid to our pillars of support – not our partners… but our feet!
As a podiatrist and mother of two, I have discussed the highs and lows of pregnancy with many patients. It has occurred to me that our feet usually get neglected during the exciting and busy time of pregnancy. As I read further it was highlighted that lots of “mums to be” still attempt to conform to fashion and social pressures …. and I questioned if they could be damaging the two things they will rely on to walk around for years to come?
The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists carried out a survey of 1,000 pregnant women in 2012. Many still wore high heels, ballet pumps, flip flops or Ugg boots during gestation and 50 per cent felt pressure to still follow such fashion trends. Not surprisingly, 70 per cent admitted to suffering foot problems including swollen ankles, foot, arch and heel pain.
So just what does happen to our feet during pregnancy?
Relaxin is released: this allows our bodies to change and adapt to carry our babies by relaxing and softening the ligaments. Unfortunately in the feet and ankles, it reduces the stability the ligaments would usually provide. Weight gain increases the effect and some women report a drastic change in foot posture and shape, some reporting that these changes last after pregnancy.
Weight gain: changes in foot posture and footwear can also create high pressure areas in the feet. These can result in calluses and corns which, if untreated, can be painful to walk on – further adding to the waddle!
Veins: prolonged pressure by the bump can affect the venous return in our lower limbs – making some women, particularly those who have inherited weak valves, prone to varicose veins. The risk of deep vein thrombosis is also increased with pregnancy.
Fluid retention and swelling in the lower limbs: these are common complaints.
Foot pain: this can be due to change in foot posture, inappropriate footwear support, injury and weight gain.