Having a baby can take a real toll on your poor feet.
“During pregnancy, a variety of common complaints can arise, but one of the most overlooked issue is foot ailments,” says Margarita Atieh, from The Baby Planner. “Due to natural weight gain, your centre of gravity is altered, which adds further pressure to your knees and feet causing all different types of complaints.”
Common niggles that you might have already heard about include swollen ankles, arch and heel pain, itchy feet and dry and cracked heels.
However, one less well-known side effect is your feet getting bigger. And we’re not just talking about a bit of swelling – it’s not unheard of for expectant mums to go up a whole shoe size and stay that way.
So why do your feet grow in pregnancy?
Doctors think the arch of the foot flattens out, partly due to the extra weight and partly due to changes in the joints, as your body prepares for birth.
“It’s to do with the relaxin hormone, which makes joints become a little looser than before,” explains midwife Janine Smith, from Birth Basics. “This hormone makes joints more flexible but sometimes, they don’t bounce back.”
“The ligaments in your feet can stretch and widen your feet during pregnancy, and this can sometimes be a permanent change after you’ve had your baby, too,” agrees podiatrist Junaid Ahmed, from Feet4Life. “Although the swelling of the feet will disappear with a month of giving birth, the other changes may be permanent.”
Researchers from the University of Iowa looked at 49 pregnant women and collected arch measurements, both at rest and walking, during the first trimester.
When they re-examined them five months after childbirth, they found that 60-70 per cent of women in the study saw arch height and measures of arch rigidity had decreased significantly. This caused a corresponding increase in foot length – between 2mm and 10mm – and arch drop.
Professor Neil Segal, of the University of Iowa, says: “It is possible that these foot changes in pregnancy may help explain why, in comparison with men, women are at higher risk of pain or arthritis in their feet, knees, hips and spine.”
The study also suggested that first pregnancies many account for most of the observed changes, while subsequent ones may not further alter the foot structure.
Many MFMers report that this change in size happened to them.
“I was a size 3 before I had children and now I’m a size 5!” says Angie Turner. “I went a size up after my second baby,” says Eileen Teo.
Actress Denise Van Outen has also suffered this annoying problem. When pregnant with her daughter Betsy, she went from a size 5 to a 6 and remained that way.
“I’ve had to give away all my shoes,” she says.
A great excuse to splurge on some new pairs, if ever there was one!