Foot Health in Pregnancy

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Weight gain and hormonal changes in pregnancy have a huge impact on the body and your feet can often bear the brunt of the major changes which a woman’s body will go through. Many women find they are unable to reach their feet in the later stages of pregnancy and can suffer with swelling, cramps, aching, itchiness and varicose veins on their lower limbs. Foot problems in pregnancy can cause unpleasant discomfort, and Feet for Life month aims to make women more aware of foot health issues and what they can do to help prevent them.

Key foot health issues in pregnancy

Swollen legs and feet: During pregnancy, the uterus puts pressure on veins in the pelvis, slowing down the return of blood to the heart. Blood vessels in your toes are among the smallest in the body which can cause fluid from the veins to leak into surrounding tissues of the legs and feet causing swelling and sometimes throbbing. Feet can increase in size and you may need to wear a larger shoe size.

Top tips for healthy feet during pregnancy:

  • Raise your feet and legs up whenever you can and do daily leg and calf stretches
  • Wear comfortable, supportive footwear – ideally with a strap, laces, or Velcro. Choose a heel height of 3cm as this shifts your weight a little further forward on your feet which can help alleviate discomfort. Avoid wearing high heels as this can place unnecessary pressure on your joints at a time when they are already under strain
  • Don’t cross your legs or ankles when sitting
  • Keep active – keep the lower limbs moving even when resting. Prevent cramps from occurring by boosting circulation – try rotating your ankles ten times to the left and ten times to the right, and repeating. Before you start an exercise programme, check with your midwife or GP
  • If you experience arch pain visit a podiatrist who, if necessary, will be able to provide special inserts for your shoes to help treat the problem. These may be temporary and can give a great deal of relief.
  • Wear surgical stockings – with advice from your midwife, GP or health professional

Top tips for buying footwear for pregnancy:

  • Feet tend to swell during the day, so buy shoes later in the afternoon when your feet are at their largest
  • Try on both shoes and walk around the shop to check if they pinch or rub
  • Make sure there is 1cm between the longest toe and the end of the shoe
  • Keep heel heights to about 3cm
  • Choose a shoe with a strap to keep it firmly on your foot, avoiding fiddly straps which are difficult to do up – especially in the final trimester of your pregnancy!
  • Choose shoes with a toe box that is high enough and wide enough to comfortably fit, either rounded or square shaped, not pointed
  • Don’t rush when you’re buying shoes (even when you’ve spotted the ultimate sales bargain!) – take your time and check they fit you properly
  • Choose supportive footwear with extra shock absorption, a supportive arch and firm heel.


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