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What Causes Foot Pain During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, women often experience foot pain due to swelling, weight gain, and overpronation of the feet (flat feet). Foot pain is more frequently experienced in the morning and is a normal part of pregnancy.

Common causes of foot pain during pregnancy include weight gain, swelling, and overpronation of the feet (flat feet). It is a normal part of pregnancy along with the list of other various symptoms that accompany you during those amazing nine months. Although pregnancy can be a magical experience, one of the main symptoms women have is foot pain.

As your abdomen expands to accommodate the growing fetus, a significant amount of weight is gained. This causes you to experience forward-facing pressure on your body, which alters your center of gravity. Of course, your feet are the foundation that supports your whole body. Along with your legs, they have to work extra hard to support you during your pregnancy. Therefore, it is common and normal for them to experience discomfort.

Table of Contents

Foot Problems That Are Commonly Experienced During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your feet will experience a variety of symptoms due to different causes. Let’s explore some of the most common foot problems pregnant women face.

Lack of Arch Support

During pregnancy, your body changes to accommodate a growing fetus and prepare for delivery. The hormone, Relaxin, is released to help relax the muscles, ligaments, and joints during pregnancy. It is what your body needs to prepare for the passage of the baby through your pelvic area. Since your body becomes more loose and flexible, it may leave it prone to injury. Ligament laxity causes feet to flatten, giving them less arch support. This is exacerbated by the weight gain that occurs.

How to Treat Lack of Arch Support

To lessen the effects of flat feet when you’re pregnant, you can wear shoes that are specially designed to provide the arches of your feet with ample support. You can also visit a podiatrist to consider wearing orthotics that have the support your feet need when they lose their natural arch.

Changes in the Way You Walk

Another phenomenon that occurs during pregnancy is changes to your gait (the way you walk). As your belly grows, the pelvis and spine start to curve inward. It can cause you to lean back to support your center of gravity. This posture causes you to put your weight towards your heels to compensate for the shift. You may be familiar with the waddling-type gait seen in the later months of pregnancy.

How to Treat Abnormal Gait

It is recommended that you walk as much as possible while pregnant. It will give you the muscular strength you need to support your changing body while relieving swelling. When you stand, be sure to put one foot in front of the other and push off initiating at the heel to maintain an upright position.

Higher Risk for Ingrown Toenails

When your feet experience chronic swelling, you are more likely to develop ingrown toenails. They can become infected if not treated properly. The condition can cause you to have swelling, warmth, pus, drainage, and pain.

How to Treat Ingrown Toenails

It is recommended that you see a specialist for treating ingrown toenails while pregnant. Choose a physician that takes a conservative approach without the need for surgery. If non-surgical treatment doesn’t work, it is best to use a local anesthetic such as lignocaine to ensure the safety of both mother and baby.

Managing Edema (Swelling) During Pregnancy

Swelling during pregnancy affects your whole body and can be expected. Edema or swelling occurs when excessive fluid is contained in the tissues. It is mostly manifested in your legs, ankles, and feet. However, you can also notice swelling in many other parts of the body.

Treatment for Edema

An effective way to treat edema is to elevate your feet. You can also eat less sodium, stay properly hydrated, and use compression socks.

What is Over-Pronation?

Weight gain puts added pressure on your feet, particularly at the arch, which causes it to flatten. Overpronation of the foot is characterized by the feet rolling excessively down and inward.

It causes the arch to elongate and collapse making the heel lean forward. This condition causes you to feel pain, shin splints, and can make you prone to fractures.

Treatment for OverPronation

A great way to treat overpronation conservatively is with the use of orthotics. They are designed to provide arch support and medial rearfoot posting to correct over-pronation. You must get fitted by a professional to ensure you are receiving the correct pair of corrective shoes.

Experiencing Plantar Fasciitis During Pregnancy

Plantar fasciitis is a condition that causes you to experience heel pain. It is inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is a thick ligament that connects the front of your foot to your heel.

Treating Plantar Fasciitis

There are several ways you can relieve plantar fasciitis on your own including:

  • Performing stretching exercises
  • Elevating your legs
  • Using an ice pack
  • Wearing insoles and heel pads

Experiencing Leg Cramps While Pregnant

It is important to differentiate mild leg cramps that are relieved by stretching from persistent and painful cramps that make your legs red, warm, and swollen. The latter can indicate a blood clot, which is a medical emergency. It is normal to experience mild leg cramps in your feet, legs, and thighs due to acid buildup in your muscles.

Treating Leg Cramps

The best way to treat a leg cramp is to do gentle stretching. You can also walk and sit followed by raising your legs afterward. Additionally, massage, a hot shower, or a warm bath are also effective to relieve leg cramps.

What if I Have Flat Feet?

Whether you have a perfect arch or flat feet, being pregnant will flatten your feet. It is a normal part of pregnancy due to the extra weight and the release of relaxin hormone. If you have flat feet before your pregnancy, you will likely experience the same symptoms as if you had good arches.

Treat Flat Feet

At any point in your life, you can help your flat feet develop a better arch by wearing orthotics for extra support. This specialized footwear helps you get the support you need to distribute the weight of your body evenly. Another method to deal with flat feet is to limit the amount of time you walk barefoot.

Dealing With Varicose Veins While Pregnant

Varicose veins during pregnancy are caused by poor blood flow. Pools of blood in the veins cannot circulate well and form bulges under the skin. The legs are a common place for varicose veins along with the rectum and genitals. They can be uncomfortable and fortunately, go away after childbirth.

How to Treat Varicose Veins

Because varicose veins usually go away after delivery, doctors consider them harmless and like to wait until you have your baby before treating them. However, if they are causing irritating symptoms or you feel they are getting worse, you can increase your exercise activity, elevate your feet, wear supportive stockings, and limit your sodium intake.

What if I Have Hot or Burning Sensations on my Feet?

When you’re pregnant, it is common to have a burning or hot sensation on your feet. This is due to hormonal changes that cause a rise in your body temperature. It is more likely for you to experience this symptom when you are fatigued. You may end up having disturbed sleep if not treated.

Treating Hot or Burning Sensations

As with other symptoms, it is recommended that you elevate your feet, wear supportive footwear, take regular breaks, stretch your whole body, avoid excessive sodium, and stay hydrated.

Dealing With Cracked Heels

It’s normal to experience cracked heels while pregnant due to hormonal changes. Since the skin loses moisture, it can lead to dryness making your heels crack. It is important to treat cracked heels as soon as possible to prevent infections, pain, and other complications.

Cracked Heels Treatment

As soon as you notice that your heels are starting to become dry, start a soaking and moisturizing routine. Soak your feet in warm water for about 15 minutes three to four times per week. On a daily basis, apply a quality moisturizer making sure your whole foot is covered. You can also include regular pedicures with pumice stones while avoiding sharp tools.

Ingrown toenails

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Treatments

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How Can I Prevent Painful Feet During My Pregnancy?

There several methods you can incorporate into your routine while pregnant to alleviate painful feet.

Choose Supportive and Comfortable Footwear

Since your feet are going to be carrying extra weight for nine months in addition to experiencing anatomical changes, it is best to choose supportive footwear that provides your feet with the proper support.

Exercise With Proper Shoes

It is especially important to choose supportive footwear for exercising while pregnant. It is beneficial for you to walk often throughout your pregnancy, therefore, choose quality shoe brands that help your spine stay erect and provide the right support.

Take Breaks From Standing and Sitting

Your body is meant to be in motion. Standing or sitting for too long creates muscle contractures. Maintain an active lifestyle that includes plenty of restful periods of stretching and changing positions.

Keep Your Body Weight in Check

Although you are pregnant, you still have to be mindful of empty calories and inactivity. Consult your physician to come up with a healthy nutritional and exercise plan.

Choose Gentle Exercises

Be easy on your body, exercise is meant to relax you and be soothing to your body. Avoid strenuous activity that leaves your muscles tense and fatigued.

Elevate Your Feet Often

One of the best ways to relax your body, increase circulation, and avoid many complications is to elevate your feet daily. Choose a comfortable stool where you can relax for at least 10 minutes while you do deep breathing exercises.

Wear Compression Stockings for Increased Circulation

Wearing compression stockings is an effective and easy way to increase your circulation and relieve your legs and feet. Choose a trusted brand that has the design necessary to be effective. Always consult your doctor before practicing a new routine.

Massage and Soothe Your Feet

Massage is very beneficial for the entire body. Your feet have pressure points that connect to all of your major muscles and organs. Therefore, be sure they are massaged often with a gentle motion.

Wear Orthotic Inserts for Additional Support

Unless you have orthopedic shoes, chances are that your feet are not receiving the proper support. Orthotic inserts are an easy and effective way to provide your feet with more support.

Stay Well Nourished and Hydrated

Water and nutritious foods give you the electrolytes and minerals your bones and muscles need to work properly. You also keep your body chemically balanced, which is necessary for proper overall function.

FAQ

 

How can I stop my feet from hurting during pregnancy?

There are several methods you can try to relieve your feet from pain including elevating your feet, wearing supportive footwear, walking often, and massage.

Is it normal for your feet to hurt during pregnancy?

Yes, your body goes through hormonal and structural changes during pregnancy which make it common for you to experience painful feet.

When do your feet start to hurt during pregnancy?

When you are pregnant, it is more common to experience painful feet during your last trimester. That is the stage where you are the heaviest and you may experience the most inflammation.

What are the problems with pregnant women’s feet?

Pregnant women can experience a variety of foot symptoms including pain, cramps, cracked heals, and ingrown toenails among others.

When does foot pain start in pregnancy?

The onset of foot pain can vary from woman to woman. However, it is more common for foot problems to become more noticeable during the last trimester.

How to relieve foot pain during pregnancy?

There are several ways to relieve foot pain during pregnancy including stretching, elevating the feet, massage, and soaking in warm water.

Top of foot pain during pregnancy third trimester

During your third trimester, the top of your feet can hurt due to decreased arch support. It can also be a sign of plantar fasciitis.

Sharp pain on top of foot pregnancy

A sharp pain on the top of the foot can indicate the presence of plantar fasciitis.

Home remedies for foot pain during pregnancy

At home, you can try warm soaking, massage, elevating your feet, staying hydrated, and wearing supportive footwear.