The last thing you want to worry about when you are pregnant is your feet, but pregnancy can lead to problems that affect both your feet and legs. The good news is that there are things you can do to help relieve some of the discomfort!
Foot and heel pain
It is not uncommon for pregnant women to develop foot and heel pain as a result of all the additional weight gained throughout pregnancy. Your centre of gravity and how you walk and stand are also affected by the changes in your body, and these may cause problems with your balance.
Try these tips:
- Try to avoid standing for long periods of time and walking barefoot.
- Take a break when you can and sit down and elevate your feet.
- Extra weight, loose ligaments, and decreased balance all require extra support for the feet. Supportive, properly fitted shoes can make a big difference and if you still have problems, see your podiatrist to discuss orthotics or other treatment options.
Foot and Ankle Swelling
Swelling in your feet and ankles during pregnancy is quite common.
It is usually caused by an increase in blood volume that occurs to help you carry extra oxygen and nutrients to your baby. You may notice that your shoes become too tight. Increases in foot size that are due to swelling are common and temporary.
Foot and ankle swelling is not unusual during pregnancy, and it is considered normal if it is symmetric and painless. However, swelling that’s associated with pain, asymmetric swelling, or swelling that only involves side could be an indicator of a serious issue, like a DVT. You should see your doctor about any of these concerning issues promptly.
If you notice swelling in your face, around your eyes or if the swelling occurs very suddenly you should see your doctor right away as these could be signs of preeclampsia.
Try these tips:
- Avoid standing still for long periods of time. Walking gets your calf muscles working, which can help pump some of the extra fluid out of your legs and feet. That said, be sure to rest several times a day, elevating your feet as much as possible when sitting down.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Try to avoid foods that contain large amounts of salt, as they will increase your fluid retention.
Calf Muscle Cramping
Leg cramps usually cause painful spasms of the calf. It is not clear why pregnant women are more prone to getting them. They can occur both day and night but are generally more common at night.
Try these tips:
- Stretch and massage the muscles in your legs and feet, especially before you go to bed at night.
- Go for a walk to get some exercise.
- Talk to your doctor about taking any needed calcium, magnesium, or vitamin B supplements.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- If you do get a cramp, stretch your calf muscle by making your knee straight and pulling/moving your foot back toward your nose. This will help to relieve the spasm in the calf muscle.
Varicose veins are veins that have become enlarged and usually stick out above the surface of the skin. They may look like twisted, purple cords or strings. Increased blood volume and pregnancy hormones cause changes in the blood vessels that may lead to varicose veins.
Inability to reach feet
This obvious one generally occurs when your baby bump has made itself known and is restricting you from the things you have taken for granted like tying your shoelaces or cutting your own nails. If general foot care has become difficult for you to manage, go and see your podiatrist who will be more than happy to help!
The team from Sutherland Podiatry Centre