Everything goes a but haywire when you are pregnant, but nothing more than your poor feet which rarely even get a check over (manly as they are “out of sight out of mind” in the last trimester!).
Even more reason to look after them before pregnancy and to get them checked over regularly during pregnancy.
This could even be done by your darling partner – let’s face it they get the easy job in this so let’s get them doing some hard work now!
So what can go wrong with your feet during pregnancy?
It’s going to be an exciting time for me over the next few months! Lots of people close to me are expecting babies soon! My cousin in America is expecting her first little baby girl, my best friend is having her third (probably another girl – poor daddy!) and most importantly I am about to become an Auntie for the second time as my sister is expecting in the summer! I bet you are thinking why are you telling me this Louise?! How is this related to feet!? Well actually podiatry is actually closely related to pregnancy! Having given some advice out recently to my friends and family about problems with their feet, it reminded me so!
Relaxin’ because that’s all you want to do when you are pregnant!
The first thing to remember is our body has to change a lot and grow to carry a baby and to deliver it naturally. For this to happen a hormone is released called relaxin, which causes our ligaments and muscles to relax, increase in size and increase elasticity of them. Whilst this helps your tummy make space for a baby and prepare you for labour, although your feet aren’t hugely important in the delivery of a bay, our body doesn’t dictate which ligaments and muscles to target with this relaxin. As a result; ALL ligaments and muscles in the body are affected by relaxin.
Relaxin, along with increased weight and the delightful gait changes I affectionally term “the waddle” can lead to an increased chance of ligament or muscle strain or damage. Although most people are hopefully not running a marathon or doing any strenuous exercise during pregnancy it should be noted that muscles and ligaments are more likely to become strained more easily in pregnancy. Footwear is also a key thought. Slip on shoes (although much easier to put on!) can lead to more injuries as in most cases they offer less support to the structures of your feet. Try to go for something with a fastening to hold your foot in the right place, although a nightmare in later stages something with a fastening you can loosen as your feet swell is better. Natural fibres will help your feet to breathe better and choosing shoes with a nice thick sole will help with the shock absorption which all helps to prevent injuries. Read our blog for more information on finding the best footwear.
If you do get a ligament strain remember the golden rule RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. It is also worth noting that relaxin can stay in your body for up to 6 months after giving birth. So, if you are keen to get back into shape after giving birth take it easy as you are still at higher risk of an injury!
Now I really know what cankles are!
The next problem associated with your feet in pregnancy is swelling usually associated with the latter stages of pregnancy. This is another normal, delightful side effect of pregnancy caused by additional blood and fluid in your body pooling at the extremities. It is normal to have a moderate amount of swelling, however excessive or sudden swelling of your feet and hands, if one foot/ankle is more swollen than the other or pain in the calf or thighs are all reasons to contact your GP or midwife.
Sweaty, hot smelly feet – Help!
Normal swelling can cause footwear to feel tight and rub causing blisters or sores which may take longer to heel with the excess fluid in your feet. The extra fluid, along with the fact your temperature regulation can be problematic in pregnancy can cause your feet to sweat more! This in turn can lead to the skin surrounding the nails to become puffy and swollen and the nail can grow into the skin causing an ingrowing toenail. If the feet are swollen and sweaty you may be inclined to wear shoes without socks. Cotton socks help our skin to breath and draws moisture away from the skin, so going sockless will just exacerbate the problem and probably make your feet a little pongy!
Along with this, we are also more prone to infections in the skin and nails such as athlete’s foot. This usually presents as an itchy rash although it may just start off looking like dry skin or soggy skin in between the toes. I recommend terbinafine cream daily for 2 weeks all over your feet repeating every month for 3 months. Terbinafine has been deemed safe for use in pregnancy as a topical cream, however if you think you have athlete’s foot, I would contact your local podiatrist to confirm the diagnosis before unnecessarily exposing yourself to medication.
As a preventative measure I would do the following during and after treatment:
- Spray your shoes weekly with Daktarin Activ spray
- Wash socks on a 60 degree wash
My top tips for looking after your feet through pregnancy!
- Wear cotton socks
- Ensure shoes are roomy with a fastening.
- Cut your nails straight across filing any sharp corners, if you are struggling to reach your feet seek help from a podiatrist
- Raise your legs at the end of the day
- Do simple stretches for the calf and ankles daily
- Try not to sit cross legged
- Keep as active as you can as this will boost circulation and stop cramps
- If you need to buy shoes buy them at the end of the day as this is when your feet will be most swollen!
If you are reading this and pregnant good luck, motherhood is an amazing journey just make sure you look after those feet you will need them before you know it to be running after a toddler!
Thank for reading,