We recently had a chat with our friends at Athlete's Foot in Bondi Junction about the way a mothers feet can change during pregnancy. I meet many mums who are wearing runners that are years old so we thought it would be a really great topic to bring you more information on - today we hear from podiatrist Sally McGinnity;
Our feet are very complex structures:
• There are 26 bones in one foot,
• In both feet this makes up a quarter of the bones in our body.
• 33 Joints,
• Over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments
• We take on average 10, 000 steps a day- in a lifetime this would walk us around the globe 4 times!
Taking care of our feet is so important yet so often forgotten, until a pain or problem arises.
Many pregnant mothers visit a Podiatrist with the following questions: “I think my feet have grown, is that possible?” “Why am I experiencing pain in my feet now?” “Will this swelling ever go down?” “Are my feet now flat?”
During pregnancy a mothers foot can change considerably (some of you may have experienced these changes for yourself) on average a woman’s foot can grow by up to half a size or more during pregnancy- so what’s happening to cause this?
These changes to the structure of a mother’s foot during pregnancy can occur for the following reasons:
- In part due to the weight gain during pregnancy which can cause increased pressures placed on the feet.
- Your body retains extra fluid whilst pregnant, this gradual swelling or oedema as it is often referred to, can begin in the 2nd trimester and continue late into the pregnancy. The swelling can be dependent on weather, time of day and time spent on feet.
- The other factor is the hormone Relaxin. Relaxin is released to relax the ligaments around the pelvic area during childbirth. However, it can also create an increased laxity in the ligaments of your feet. All 26 bones are held together by ligaments, so whilst the bones in the foot are not growing, the ligaments are holding these bones together can start to loosen, creating a degree of spread and flattening of the arch of the foot.
Whilst the swelling will subside generally after a month of delivery, the foot spreading due to the change in the ligament structure can be permanent. Around half the Mum’s out there report a change in foot size by half to a full size after having babies.
For those that experience these changes during and after pregnancy it is important to ensure that your shoes are the right fit to your current size. There is no point trying to squeeze your foot back into your pre-pregnancy shoes as this can lead to ingrown toenails, aggravating bunions, or creating corns and calluses. Correct footwear and being fitted correctly can be biggest factor in avoiding and treating foot complaints during pregnancy. If you have concerns about your feet during pregnancy seeing a Podiatrist can be a good place to start.