Pregnancy has a huge impact on the human body but did you know how much it affects the feet? Throughout pregnancy and after the birth our feet can swell, ache, cramp and become itchy due to hormonal changes and natural weight gain.

The main causes of foot pain during pregnancy are swollen feet and ankles and pain in the arch and heel. Relaxin is an ovarian hormone which increases during pregnancy and causes the muscles and ligaments to stretch and soften. This in turn makes the feet more prone to ankle and ligament strains.

As with many foot problems, footwear can also be a factor. Podiatrist’s recommend a shoe with a heel height of approximately 3cm (1.2inches) as this helps to reduce any pain or discomfort by shifting the weight further forward on the feet. A supportive, wide fitting shoe will minimise any discomfort and help to avoid any long term problems. Shoes with straps can help the shoe to stay in place but towards the end of the pregnancy, it’s advisable to avoid shoes with fiddly straps.

If high heels can’t be avoided, occasional wear is a must. Save them for occasions where you won’t be on your feet for too long. Choose a supportive shoe for everyday wear.

Feet can swell during the day and as such, shoe shopping is best done later on in the day. It’s a common myth that shoes can be worn or broken in. If they pinch or rub in the shop, they will be just as uncomfortable when you get them home. A shoe with a round or square toe is recommended. Shoes with a pointed toe can cause much discomfort. When shopping for boots, take into consideration that your calves may also swell during pregnancy. Choose a boot with a side zip fastening to make it easier to get them on and off – something you’ll be very grateful for as the pregnancy progresses.

To reduce the risk of cramps and swelling it is recommended that you keep active. Before starting an exercise program do consult your GP or midwife.

If you do experience arch pain or general foot pain, help is available from your Podiatrist. If necessary an orthotic device can be prescribed and fitted to make your feet feel much more comfortable.

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