Included among the common complaints of pregnancy, such as morning sickness, back pain, and fatigue, are foot and leg pain. While in most cases, symptoms will abate once you give birth, they can make life difficult during gestation. This is especially true these days when most women are busy in the workplace until close to their due dates. This is why it’s a good idea to consult with a skilled and knowledgeable podiatrist at the beginning of your pregnancy who can follow you through the months when your body is undergoing major changes.
There are several reasons that foot problems occur more during pregnancy. One is the rapid weight gain; another is the elevated hormone levels that cause pregnant women to retain fluid. Being on your feet during your work day or while taking care of young children at home can exacerbate the problem.
Various problems can occur during pregnancy, including:
Swelling and edema of the feet and/or anklesLeg crampsVaricose veins
Although all three are common pregnancy-related difficulties, it is important to evaluate swelling if it also occurs on your face or hands or if it is associated with blurred vision, severe headaches or more than expected weight gain (more than one pound per day). These symptoms are associated with preeclampsia, a serious medical condition that requires immediate medical attention.
Compassionate podiatrists, whether male or female, are familiar with the foot and ankle problems frequently associated with pregnancy. They recommend the following methods of preventing and minimizing the problems mentioned.
Exercise your feet regularly to increase circulation beginning early in your pregnancy
Rest periodically with your feet elevated
Sleep on your side, rather than your back, to relieve pressure on the vena cava
Drink plenty of fluids ( it may seem counterintuitive, but dehydration makes swelling worse)
Limit your weight gain to 25 to 35 pounds
Ice the inside of your ankles for 15 to 20 minutes at a time to reduce swelling
Get fitted with comfortable, supportive shoes and boots with wide calves and zippers
Regulate your diet to include more dairy or calcium supplements and foods rich in potassium, (like bananas); avoid diet sodas and processed meats that are high in phosphorous
Take a 15 to 20 minute walk daily
Avoid sitting or standing in one position for long periods
As with many medical problems, heredity may make you more prone to varicose veins. Nonetheless, you may prevent or diminish unsightly, uncomfortable bulging blood vessels by:
Avoiding excessive weight gain
Engaging in mild exercise of the legs (e.g. walking, swimming, bicycling)
Wearing support hose
During pregnancy women develop develop ligament laxity, meaning their ligaments stretch beyond normal limits. This occurs because progesterone levels are extraordinarily high during gestation, resulting in a loosening of ligaments and joints throughout the body. Since the overstretched ligaments offer less support and affect posture adversely , it is recommended that women wear custom-made orthotics during pregnancy to maintain healthy foot joints and decrease discomfort.
By following the above suggestions, you are likely to get through your pregnancy with little or no foot pain which will make life easier both during gestation and in the challenging, though wonderful, months that follow childbirth.