Celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Snooki have been chastised for wearing heels during pregnancy, and rightfully so. Both wearing heels and pregnancy shift a woman’s center of gravity; the resulting combination means that pregnant women are more likely to fall while wearing heels. In addition, wearing constrictive heels also worsens another problem that women suffer during pregnancy: swelling. With this in mind, I thought I’d share why this occurs and what pregnant women can do to reduce this common pregnancy problem.
Swelling in the legs and feet, (sometimes referred to as “cankles” – a combination of“calf” and “ankles”) is a common problem during pregnancy. As women’s bodies change during pregnancy, they retain fluids. These fluids pool at the lowest point of gravity, causing the legs and feet to swell. This swelling increases as the day progresses, so pregnant women wishing to avoid swollen feet should take frequent breaks from long periods of standing. Sitting down and putting your feet up lessens the effect of gravity, and promotes the fluids to return to your body. Pregnant women (or their loved ones) can also try to massage the area, starting at the toes and moving towards the knee, to reduce swelling.
Shoe choice can also have a major effect on the amount of swelling. Pregnant women should wear comfortable, supportive shoes whenever possible. Heels are not only dangerous for pregnant women as explained above, but also can increase swelling because they can be constrictive and not allow fluids to go back to the rest of the body. Tight socks should be avoided for similar reasons; instead, compression stockings or support hose that are specially designed to return fluids to the body are available over the counter and from your doctor.
While some amount of swelling is normal during pregnancy, excessive swelling can be a sign of bigger problems. If you or a pregnant loved one is concerned about feet swelling or other foot issues during pregnancy, make an appointment with any of our doctors for an examination.