Pregnancy causes many changes in a woman’s body such as hormonal fluctuations, increased body weight, and shifting of the center of gravity. These changes mainly affect the legs and feet leading to:
Change in Foot Structure
During pregnancy, the body increases the production of certain hormones such as relaxin that helps in relaxing the ligaments and other parts of your body to allow vaginal birth. As a result, the ligaments in the feet also relax, and while standing and with increased weight due to pregnancy this can lead to flattening of the arches(flatfoot) and overpronation(ankle rolling inwards)causing pain and problems with balance. Overpronation can also lead to other problems such as plantar fasciitis and heel spurs.
Swelling in the feet
Swelling occurs due to fluid accumulation in the tissues. During pregnancy, your blood volume increases in order to carry sufficient oxygen and nutrients to your baby, and due to gravity, the extra fluid accumulates in your feet causing swelling. Swelling normally happens in both feet. If only one foot is swollen or if swelling is also present on other parts of the body such as the face you should contact your doctor.
Changes in toenails
During pregnancy, you may experience a shortage of nutrients for your body as most of your nutrients are provided to the baby. This deprivation of nutrients may lead to the development of brittle, dark, and discolored toenails. These changes usually resolve when your pregnancy is over.
Prevention and Treatment
To prevent or manage foot problems during pregnancy the following is recommended:
- Reduce sodium (salt) intake as it holds water in the body
- Increase potassium intake through foods such as bananas and yogurt as this helps control swelling
- Avoid standing for long periods
- Try to keep your feet elevated when sitting
- Wearwell-supported footwear or orthotic shoes if necessary
- Compression stockings can help control swelling
- Stay hydrated
- Avoid caffeine intake
- Regular exercise
- Warm baths
- Swimming or getting in the pool can also help