Of course, you expected your body to change drastically during your pregnancy, but you might be surprised to notice so many problems with your feet. As you do everything you can to care for your unborn baby and ensure a healthy pregnancy, dealing with foot pain and swelling might be at the bottom of your to-do list. However, by explaining why these changes might be happening to your feet and telling you when to seek medical treatment, we hope to put your mom-to-be mind at ease—at least when it comes to your feet!
What Might Happen to Your Feet While You Are Pregnant
Some changes you might notice in your feet are simply a normal result of carrying extra weight, but other changes are more specific to pregnancy. Here are five things to know about your feet during pregnancy:
- Swelling is not uncommon. Edema is the medical term for swelling caused by extra fluid in the body. It is very common for pregnant women to experience swelling in the ankles and feet, particularly in hot weather or at the end of the day. During pregnancy, the body produces more fluid to nurture both you and your baby, and it can accumulate in your tissues. To manage edema, you can lower the sodium in your diet, stay hydrated, elevate your feet at the end of the day, and wear compression socks.
- Your arches could relax. The hormones produced during pregnancy are designed to allow for childbirth by relaxing muscles and ligaments in the pelvic region. However, these hormones circulate throughout the body and might also act to relax the ligaments in your feet, which could flatten your arches and make your foot wider and longer. Along with the increased weight you are carrying, this can cause painful plantar fasciitis and other foot problems. Working with a podiatrist to find appropriate shoes and orthotics can offer some relief.
- You should not ignore ingrown toenails. If you experience edema, you are at a higher risk of developing ingrown toenails while you are pregnant. The softer tissue on the sides of the nails, along with changes to the toenails themselves, can cause the nail to grow into flesh. Ingrown toenails cause redness, swelling, and pain and are prone to becoming infected. It can be hard to care for your toenails over your baby bump, so it's important to see a podiatrist for a simple, in-office procedure to treat the ingrown toenail.
- Your feet may never be the same. You might think it's just an old wives' tale that your feet grow during pregnancy, but if your arches flatten out and your feet widen while you are pregnant, the change is probably permanent. Once you have given birth, it's a good idea to be properly fitted for good, supportive shoes to support these changes and prevent future problems.
- Persistent pain is not normal. The changes we have described can cause temporary discomfort, but if they are preventing you from living a healthy and active lifestyle during your pregnancy, it's vital to your and your baby's health to work with a doctor to find a solution. Edema can be a sign of high blood pressure, which is very dangerous during pregnancy.
With everything else you have going on during your pregnancy, it can be easy to ignore your feet. However, since foot problems can be a warning sign of a more serious medical condition and staying active is important for a healthy pregnancy, you need to treat your feet with special care during these nine months.
Make a Podiatrist a Part of Your Prenatal Care Team
Offering effective treatments for ingrown toenails, flat feet, plantar fasciitis, edema, and chronic pain, Northwest Extremity Specialist could be a vital member of your prenatal and post-partum medical team. If you are experiencing any foot discomfort, we invite you to talk to us about your options. Call us today at 503-245-2420 to make an appointment in the Portland-area office closest to you.