Common Pregnancy-Related Foot Problems

Jul 21, 2020

Pregnancy (not to mention parenthood!) means you’re going through lots and lots of changes. Changes to your body. Changes to your lifestyle. Changes to your financial priorities!

We’re sure you’ve got a lot on your plate already, but in the midst of all this, don’t forget about changes to your feet, too!

Pregnant women often suffer from aches, pains, swelling, and other problems with their feet and ankles. But did you know that, quite often, pregnancy can alter your foot structure in permanent ways that may leave you more susceptible to certain conditions later in life?

The good news is that, no matter how many times you’ve been pregnant, you can still find ways to relieve and support your feet. Don’t assume that foot pain just “comes with the territory” for motherhood! You can’t afford to let foot pain slow you down—and we can help!

pregnancy-related foot problems

Common Pregnancy-Related Foot Problems

Conditions that are common for women who are pregnant or who have recently given birth include:

Painful, swollen feet, ankles, and calves (edema)

During pregnancy, your body retains a lot of extra water and fluid in order to ensure that enough nutrients and oxygen can be carried to the growing baby. However, this often comes with the side effect of swelling and bloating in other areas.

Feet, ankles, and calves are especially susceptible to pregnancy-related edema for a number of reasons—gravity, relatively small blood vessels, and even the uterus putting pressure on the veins that normally take fluid away from the legs.

Normally, mild swelling is not a serious medical issue, and you can manage it with simple measures. This includes

  • Drinking more water
  • Wearing compression stockings
  • Limiting salt and caffeine intake
  • Sleeping on your side instead of your back
  • Stretching and exercising your feet regularly
  • Elevating your feet.

However, if you notice more severe or unusual symptoms, such as:

  • Chronic pain
  • Leg cramps
  • Varicose veins
  • One leg appearing more swollen than the other (potentially a sign of a serious vascular problem such as deep vein thrombosis)

… then you should give us a call immediately so we can take a closer look and give you our recommendations.

Overpronation and flat feet

Did you know that feet gradually flatten and widen throughout adulthood for nearly everyone? A lifetime of wear and tear will do that.

However, pregnancy can greatly accelerate the process. During pregnancy, your body releases hormones that “relax” joints and ligaments throughout the body. The main purpose is to allow the pelvis to expand in order to accommodate the baby and the birthing process. However, it also loosens up ligaments in the feet.

When you add weight gain on top of looser ligaments, the result is often a noticeable flattening of the arch. This is frequently accompanied by the development (or worsening) of overpronation, which is what happens when your feet start to roll too far inward when you put weight on them as you walk.

Due to the way overpronation alters the biomechanical alignment of your feet and ankles, you may start to experience other problems, such as heel pain. Also, it’s quite common for at least some of the arch flattening and overpronation to remain after pregnancy—or in other words, your feet don’t ever quite go back to “normal.”

If you’re experiencing only mild discomfort, we’d recommend you stick to comfortable footwear that provides a lot of arch support and cushioning. If you’re still having painful problems, a set of carefully chosen arch inserts or, if necessary, custom orthotics can make a huge difference.

Ingrown toenails

There’s never a “good” time to suffer from ingrown toenails. But if we had to rank them, pregnancy would be one of the worst.

Often times this is a secondary consequence of the conditions we’ve already talked about. Whether your feet are just swelling temporarily or actually getting permanently larger due to arch flattening, you may find your shoes feeling a bit tighter than they used to.

When toes get packed into shoes that press down on the nails, ingrown toenails are a very common result.

If your ingrown toenail is mild, soaking your feet for about 15 minutes at a time a few (3-4) times per day can provide relief. If the ingrown toenail persists, is painful, or shows any signs of infection, you should come see us as soon as possible. You definitely don’t want to mess around with a severe ingrown toenail!

Pregnancy-Related Foot Problems

Don’t Let Foot Pain Make Pregnancy More Difficult

You’ve got other things on your mind. You don’t need foot pain intruding on your thoughts and limiting your activities while you’re trying to make space in your home and your life for your new bundle of joy!

The team at Family Foot & Care & Surgery provides exceptional and compassionate care for women in all stages of life—not to mention men and children, too! Our doctors understand what you’re going through and will work hard to ensure your feet and ankles remain healthy and strong, so you can continue to live life on your terms!

To request an appointment, contact us online, or call our offices in Milford or Hamden at one of the numbers below: