When You’re Pregnant
When a woman is pregnant, the excessive weight gain combined with hormonal release relaxes certain ligaments in the body. As the fetus grows larger, the centre of gravity changes from the lower back to the front of the body. In the later stages of pregnancy, the woman tends to turn out her feet for stability.
This puts undue stress on the tendons, muscles and ligaments of the foot, which may cause pain or mechanical problems such as bunions, tendonitis, ingrown toenails and other inflammatory conditions. A pregnant woman’s foot can swell or enlarge anywhere from one to two sizes, causing discomfort. Other common complications include swelling of the legs, varicose veins, leg fatigue and cramps.
What Can You Do?
- Wear comfortable, supportive shoes.
- Use over-the-counter arch supports.
- Elevate and rest legs often.
- Begin a supervised exercise programme.
What Might A Podiatrist Do?
- Perform a physical examination.
- Prescribe support hose.
- Prescribe orthotic devices.
- Evaluate and treat associated foot problems.
What the body goes through
Pedal care while in pregnancy
Being pregnant can be one of the most joyful times of a woman’s life. Unfortunately, many women suffer from problems with their feet while in their term. Pregnancy brings with it the added consequences of hormonal upheaval and weight gain that can affect females long term pedal health and are assisted by some simple care to remain safe from the unintended changes that can last a lifetime.
So what do those relaxin and progesterone hormones do to the feet?
– literally, the hormones that allow for widening of the pelvic floor for childbirth, can wreak havoc on other ligaments and connective tissues causing (along with weight gain) the loosening of pedal structures as well that result in forefoot splay (bunion and tailors bunion enlargement, metatarsalgia, increased pronation and collapsing of the medial arch line etc.).
– increased tendency for edema to the lower legs and pooling distally; daily elevation of lower legs, monitoring of dietary sodium/salts intake, use of compression stockings, parsing amount of time standing or walking, monitoring shoe size need changes, remain properly hydrated
– proper diet, hydration and calcium levels can assist with any muscle cramping. Stretching gently-short sustained stretches of 15-30 seconds and gentle massage can ease cramping.
– painful nerve induced neuralgias such as sciatica and the expression of this in the lower legs/feet: easing lower back in rest with a knee pillow may relieve tension in the lower back/sciatic as well as lying on ones’ side – use assist of pillow for comfort, decreased long periods of standing, gentle walks or use of cold compress to sciatic area can be assistive
So, now what can be offered by the podiatrist as advice or clinical assist to our ‘mothers to be’?
- custom molded or OTC orthotic and inserts
- compression stockings or OTC versions measured and fit
- mothers should be sure to properly trim nails such that the increased likelihood of edema will not impinge upon them; if she is uncomfortable in doing this, a local podiatrist may be sought out to assist
- as orthopedic changes can be some of the most long term and devastating of changes, podiatric care should be included in creating proper support such as custom molded orthotics or over the counter alternatives that offer support and alignment. These can give not only more comfort but preclude orthopedic havoc.
- liners and padding to cushion and protect bony prominent areas in a shoe from swollen feet are also assistive- monitor for proper shoe fit with all pads in use of course.
The podiatric profession can do much to alleviate some of the physiologic distress to allow ‘mothers to be’ a safer and happier term.