Your Feet during Pregnancy

pregnant feet__1453482885_108.89.137.58So much is changing about your body during pregnancy – from your head all the way down to your feet.  While we tend to notice facial changes and a growing baby bump, many new moms aren’t expecting changes to their feet.  But it is very common for several things to happen to your feet during pregnancy.  We’re taking a closer look at these changes today.

Your Feet May Swell During Pregnancy

Pregnancy edema is quite common, especially in your feet.  This prenatal swelling occurs due to the additional blood and fluids that accumulate in your body as you nurture your growing baby.  As it grows larger, your uterus puts pressure on pelvic veins and the vena cava that returns blood from the lower part of your body back to your heart.  This build-up of pressure can cause swelling in the feet, toes and ankles.  Swelling can be worse at nighttime or in hotter weather conditions.  Because pregnancy edema can be painful and may be a sign of larger complications, the best thing to do is prop your feet and try to relieve some of the immediate swelling.  Also, be sure not to wear clothing that is too tight and don’t stand or sit for extremely long periods of time.  Normal pregnancy swelling of the feet usually subsides quickly after childbirth.  So those tootsies of yours won’t look like giant sausages forever!

Your Feet May Grow During Pregnancy

Anecdotally, you may have heard that your feet will grow during pregnancy and not return to their previous size.  Well, it’s more than just an old wives tale for many new moms.  Scientific studies prove that women do have longer feet and smaller arches after childbirth, especially first time moms.  On average, women’s feet grew 0.1 to 0.4 inches and their arches decrease too.  For some women, feet changes are so drastic they have to buy new shoes after having a baby.  The cause of foot growth during pregnancy may be the increased hormones that loosen ligaments to accommodate the extra weight and strain of pregnancy on the body.  These may never tighten to their normal range and therefore leave feet longer.  Also, weight can put pressure on arches and permanently flatten them.  While it may be slightly expensive, we can’t think of a better reason to go shoe shopping!

Your Feet May Be Dry During Pregnancy

Dry skin occurs in some pregnant women due to hormonal changes.  This can affect all areas of the body, including your feet.  Dry feet from pregnancy can be exacerbated by exposure to the sun or cold weather.  Usually dry skin is not a sign of any problems during pregnancy although some women develop pruritic urticarial papules and plaques (PUPP) that are marked by itchy patches of red raised bumps.  Topical medication can help soothe this type of skin rash during pregnancy.  Dry skin may be a sign of dehydration, which is not healthy during pregnancy (or any other time of life) and can lead to preterm labor.  If you notice dry skin on your body or feet, be sure to drink lots of water and use a daily moisturizer on your feet.  Better yet, go for a foot massage and let someone else rub cool lotion on your feet for awhile!

Many things are changing in your body and your feet are no exception.  While some pregnancy symptoms are less than pleasant, keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll make it through with a bundle of joy at the other end of the rainbow.