The female body undergoes a series of changes during pregnancy. Apart from the pleasant ones, there are unfortunately also a few things which you should watch out for during pregnancy. Several changes also concern the feet, ranging from swelling to issues with the arches. How do the feet change during pregnancy and what can you do to keep them in good working order?
Weight gain during pregnancy
Perhaps the most prominent change in the female body is represented by weight gain. There are several reasons for this:
- Development of the foetus in the body
- Changes in the female body (breast growth, enlargement of the uterus, increased blood volume, amniotic fluid, etc.)
- Changes and fluctuations in eating habits due to hormonal imbalance
- Water retention in the body
The optimal amount of weight a woman should gain during pregnancy cannot be generalised and is an entirely individual matter. However, it is generally said to be approximately 12 kg. Weight gain, depending on how much weight the woman puts on compared to her normal weight, does of course also have an impact on the feet. Higher weight puts more strain on the feet. This means that they get more of a workout. If you read our articles regularly, you certainly already know that prolonged overexertion of the feet without adequate regeneration and care can, for example, lead to:
Water retention in the body
Levels of hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone increase dramatically, affecting the body and ensuring correct foetal development. On the other hand, factors such as increased blood volume, slowed circulation, enlargement of the uterus, or elevated sodium retention contribute to water retention in the body.
While this is in itself a completely normal phenomenon, it can cause considerable discomfort. The female body in particular retains water in the upper and lower limbs. You might notice that you no longer fit into your favourite shoes during pregnancy. This is one of the reasons why during pregnancy we recommend that you wear looser and more breathable footwear, generally avoiding high heels. We have also addressed the issue of swollen feet and how to deal with them in one of our articles here on the blog.
Change in the centre of gravity
The increase in weight and the presence of the foetus in the uterus, which is growing and developing every day, lead to a change in the centre of gravity when moving around. This then leads to a change in the woman’s gait and overall bearing. With this shift in the centre of gravity, the woman’s posture may also change. Pregnant women often transfer more weight to the back of their bodies while walking and standing in order to maintain balance and compensate for the forward shift in their centre of gravity. This also increases pressure on the lumbar spine and lower back.
The change in the centre of gravity places an uneven burden on the feet, especially the shins and ankles. This goes hand in hand with swelling and discomfort in the lower limbs.
Loose ligaments and collapsing arches
Collapsing arches and the related issue of flat feet are a consequence of the above-mentioned factors. This problem is, among other things, influenced by factors such as weight gain, change in the centre of gravity, hormonal imbalance, and the subsequent loosening of the ligaments. Ligament laxity occurs due to the release of a hormone called relaxin. This affects the ligaments and joints in the pelvic area, cervical region, and other parts of the body thereby allowing for stretching and flexibility during childbirth. Due to the loosening of the ligaments in the lower limbs combined with overexertion of the feet, the arches of the feet can collapse, this then leading to flat feet.
Be sure not to resign yourself to the fact that flat feet are part and parcel of pregnancy. They need not be. Again, it is necessary to follow certain preventive measures and try to intervene early in the event of any complications. Complications need not necessarily disappear even after childbirth, so you would be wise not to take the issue of flat feet lightly.
A comprehensive guide to foot care during pregnancy
We did already cover this point above, but the importance of relieving the pressure on your feet as much as possible during pregnancy is worth repeating. Don’t overexert yourself with too much physical activity and make sure that you get enough rest. Wear appropriate footwear, which means roomy and flexible shoes which allow your feet enough space even when swollen. When resting, ideally elevate your feet to support blood circulation. Alternating between hot and cold showers can also help with swelling.
In connection with the change in your centre of gravity, in order to ensure your comfort and health during pregnancy, it is important to maintain good posture and avoid prolonged periods of standing or sitting. If you experience any back or foot pain, don’t hesitate to consult a physiotherapist or your doctor. A physiotherapist can also show you some suitable exercises to support and enhance your vitality and generally prepare you for childbirth and subsequent postnatal care, allowing you to get your body back into prime condition as soon as possible.
But we mustn’t forget about Foot Alignment Socks either. They help women during pregnancy by relieving foot pain relating to overexertion, swelling, cramps and also contribute towards the provision of relief from restless leg syndrome. Foot Alignment Socks will improve circulation to your feet, leaving them relaxed and wonderfully stretched, a fact which has been confirmed to us by many pregnant women who were at their wits’ end trying to find some relief.
More tips on foot care not only in pregnancy can be found in our article Foot care: 7 tips and tricks for use at home.