While the joy of motherhood may be one of life’s most precious gifts, expectant mothers have to endure the rigors of pregnancy before they can experience baby bliss. As a woman’s waistline expands, healthy weight gain during pregnancy can alter one’s center of gravity causing a sway -back posture called lordosis. This new posture, coupled with weight gain, can create pressure on the knees, legs and feet. Some of the most common lower extremity elements that pregnant women experience are swollen feet, overpronation (flattening of the arch), and cramps in the legs and feet.
Swelling, or edema, of the foot and ankles results from increased pressure on leg veins and hormonal factors. This can result in feelings of heaviness and pain, and enlarged or varicose veins can develop. Elevation of the legs, frequent stretching while sitting, and waist high maternity support stockings can be helpful.
Flattening of the arch (pronation) occurs during to increased weight on the foot and hormonal influences. The foot may actually permanently increase in size. The plantar fascia tendon of the arch can become chronically inflamed, causing heel or arch pain (plantar fasciitis). These symptoms can be improved with the use of well -cushioned supportive shoes, and with insoles that your podiatrist can provide.
Falls are another frequent problem in pregnancy, affecting 27% of pregnant women, 10% of whom have recurrent or continued falls. These are due to imbalances caused by increased pelvic tilt, wider stance, and increased joint laxity. Because falls can lead to risk of injury to the mother and/or baby, they should be aggressively prevented. This is accomplished with proper shoe gear, insoles, and ankle bracing.
Many conditions described in pregnancy continue after delivery. These include enlarged feet, plantar fasciitis, edema, varicose veins, balance problems. These postnatal problems require evaluation and treatment as well.
Many gynecologists and obstetricians are knowledgeable about the services that podiatrists can provide to their pregnant and postpartum patients and refer them. However, you do not need a referral to visit us. If you are pregnant or postpartum and have any problems related to the foot, leg or ankle, please call for an appointment.