As a mother of three, I can attest that every pregnancy was unique in its own way, but one constant through them all was “Oh! My aching feet!” and this is from a podiatrist. Let me share with you some of the tricks of the trenches and recommendation from the American Podiatric Medical Association that I learned which helped me survive the pregnancy trauma to my feet. I don’t care if you are a size 2 or 12 when you get pregnant, by the sixth month most woman are complaining of some kind of foot and ankle pain.
As your waistline expands, that weight gain alters your center of gravity and causes lordosis, also known as a sway back posture. This change in posture puts abnormal stress on your knees, legs and feet. The most common ailments seen in pregnant woman are swollen feet (more like feeling like they will explode), over pronation (flattening of your arches), arch fatigue, ingrown toenails, and cramps in your feet. Let’s look at all of these a little closer and discuss the causes and the remedies.
1. Swollen feet: Excess fluid accumulates in your feet due to the weight and position of the baby in the womb. This usually occurs in the third trimester. Tips for prevention of swollen feet include: putting your feet up whenever possible, uncross your legs when sitting, stretch your legs frequently while sitting, wear wide comfortable shoes (Crocs were my favorite), and measure your feet every month and wear the appropriate size shoes. Foot size usually increases at least a half a size per pregnancy and is usually permanent after the first two. When edema is a problem, try waist high maternity pantyhose. These saved my life while I was still working and pregnant. Put them on first thing in the morning so blood doesn’t have a chance to pool around your ankles.
2. Over Pronation: Your arch is flattening and rolling inward while walking due to increased body weight and hormonal ligament laxity. This can cause back, knee and ankle pain as well as chronic arch fatigue. Tips for prevention of excessive pronation include: avoid high heels especially stilettos, and make your running shoes your best friend. Choose comfortable and supportive shoe gear that provide extra support and shock absorption. If this doesn’t cure your pronation, over-the-counter arch supports like Aetrex Lyncos can help support your arch and get you through your pregnancy.
3. Arch Fatigue: Extreme stress or inflammation on the plantar fascia, the ligament that holds up your arch occurs due to excessive pronation and a pre-pregnancy flexible flat foot. Ouch! Your arch is on fire and your heel feels like someone stabbed it hen you get up in the morning. Tips for prevention of plantar fasciitis: stretch before and after any exercise, stretch daily when you get up in the morning, do not go barefoot, and wear supportive low heeled shoes. If this doesn’t alleviate your arch pain, roll a frozen water bottle in your arch twice a day and wear arch supports mentioned above. If this does not do it, you may need physical therapy to decrease your ligament inflammation.
4. Ingrown Toenails: These are caused by excessive stress from ill-fitting shoes. Face it, your feet are expanding and so should your shoes. I wore my Crocs for the last trimester of my pregnancy with everything. Fashion goes out the window and comfort rules! Crocs Rx have enough arch support to help with your arch fatigue and enough room to avoid most ingrown toenails. If your toenail discomfort does not subside with wider shoes, seek your podiatrist. They can help! Remember that a pedicurist can give you an infection, so better left to the professionals.
5. Cramps in your feet: These are caused by increased blood volume during pregnancy and the high progesterone levels which relax your blood vessels to prevent high blood pressure. Relaxed and slack vessels can slow down your circulation. Increased weight in your pelvis can compress the veins reducing circulation to your feet. Tips for prevention of cramps: increase circulation by rotating your ankles and walking your cramps out. Stretch your calves daily make sure you are taking your prenatal vitamins to ward off any electrolyte imbalances, and exercise. A walk around the block can help even if your legs hurt!
While the joys of motherhood may be one of life’s most precious gifts, expectant mothers have to endure the rigors of pregnancy before they can experience baby bliss. Hopefully these tips from the trenches will help you survive your pregnancy as they did mine.
Dr Marybeth Crane is a board certified podiatric foot and ankle surgeon and mother of three. Your feet should last a lifetime! For more foot health tips, a copy of her FREE BOOK and doctor-approved foot care products from her online store, visit her website or read her running blog.
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