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What to Expect from your Feet when you are Expecting!

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Hormonal changes and weight gain during pregnancy effects the whole body, the legs and feet are no exception. Here are answers to commonly asked questions about pregnancy and feet!

  • Will my shoe size get bigger during pregnancy?
    • Most of the time, yes. 
  • Is it Permanent?
    • Not always, after the post partum period the changes in shoe size and length can reverse.
  • Why do my feet and legs swell and change?
    • With increased fluid building up in the tissues of the legs which increases overall volume so foot width increases. Foot length often increases also due to the hormonal changes that occur that lead to laxity of ligaments within the foot.  These ligaments loosening results in increase in foot length and width with a decrease in arch height, meaning the arch becomes flatter.
  • Why do I have calf swelling, cramping and pain?
    • Calf swelling and cramping are frequent during pregnancy. Blood flow returning from your legs back to your heart is slowed due to the increased size of the uterus and fetus. This leads to a buildup of fluid within the legs.
  • What can I do about my calf swelling and pain? 
    • Compression stockings are the key to reducing swelling in the legs and feet.  Regular walking and low-impact aerobic exercise during pregnancy will also reduce swelling. Staying properly hydrated and frequent stretching of the calves can help to reduce symptoms. Massaging the area can also provide relief.
  • What about Blood Clots?
    • Very rarely blood clots can occur in the legs during pregnancy. Symptoms to look for are pain, swelling, redness, warmth in the calf. If you notice any of these symptoms or suspect you may have a blood clot, you should contact your healthcare provider.

A final point to consider is pregnancy brings changes in joint mobility. Hormones that make the joints more lax (loose) can cause increased movement in the joints of the legs and feet. Weight gain can worsen the instability. This can also lead to alterations in gait as a woman progresses through pregnancy. The curvature of the back becomes more pronounced in pregnancy. All of these can lead to a broader-based gait to maintain balance. So it is important to be in the right shoes to help stabilize and maintain balance on your feet. 

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