The second and third trimesters come with many unique challenges, including foot problems. Moms-to-be in the Victoria, BC and Kelowna, BC areas can take steps to mitigate common issues with some time for extra care. Getting regular exercise, wearing supportive shoes, and elevating your feet a few times a day will all help.
Why So Many Moms-To-Be in Victoria, BC Experience Foot Problems
During pregnancy, the body releases a hormone called relaxin. Relaxin helps joints, muscles, and ligaments relax to prepare for birth. It also relaxes the legs and feet, leading to arch pain, lengthening, widening, and an increase in shoe size. Your shoe size may decrease after the pregnancy, but you may be at least one shoe size bigger permanently.
Another important factor in foot pain is poor circulation. This is one cause of foot swelling, which can lead to problems like ingrown toenails, corns, and calluses. You may also experience excessive perspiration in the feet. The tips below will help you improve blood flow and reduce swelling.
12 Tips for Avoiding Foot Problems During Pregnancy
1. Sleep on Your Left Side
You have likely been told that during your second and third trimesters, it’s a good idea to sleep on your side. Ideally, you want to place a pillow between your knees. This will improve your posture and blood flow.
Whenever you do something to improve blood flow to the legs, it will also help with blood flow to your feet. This results in reduced swelling and discomfort in your feet. While you can usually sleep on either side, your left side is ideal to reduce foot swelling. This reduces the pressure on the inferior vena cava, a vein that goes from your heart to your lower body.
2. Elevate Your Feet Above Your Heart
This improves blood flow, reduces swelling, and helps prevent varicose veins. Ideally, you will rest and elevate your feet above your heart in several sessions each day. The sessions should last 15 to 20 minutes. You can do this by lying on a sofa or bed with your feet propped up on a few pillows.
3. Soak Your Feet in Cool Water
Cool temperatures cause your blood vessels to constrict. This can reduce swelling in the feet. Soak your feet in moderately cool water a few times a week. Each session should last approximately 20 minutes.
If you’re taking cool baths or soaking in a swimming pool, that counts! You just need to make sure your feet are soaking up to the ankles.
4. Wear Supportive Shoes
Your center of gravity shifts as you gain weight during pregnancy, putting more pressure on the arch and forefoot. You want to wear a low-heeled shoe (not flats), preferably an athletic shoe. This will provide more stability and support. Adjustable buckles can help accommodate swollen feet as long as they are supportive in the heel and arch.
Wearing tight shoes can make the risk of ingrown toenails worse. Make sure you have a lot of room in the toe box to help with this. Tight shoes will also hurt your circulation and worsen the swelling. Note that you may find custom orthotics provide better support if your arch and heel are in pain.
5. Wear Compression Socks
Compression socks can improve circulation and reduce swelling by applying even pressure to your lower legs and feet. This improves the blood flow to your heart. You’ll want to check in with your doctor to be sure that compression stockings are the right choice for you.
As we’re mentioning socks, it’s also good to note that you should aim to wear breathable socks. Tight socks will stop healthy blood flow. Breathable socks may also help with excessive sweating.
6. Get Help Trimming Your Nails
It’s very common to not be able to reach your feet during pregnancy. You still need your toenails trimmed to avoid ingrown nails. The swelling makes this even more important.
If you can’t trim your nails yourself, ask your partner. Alternatively, visit a pedicurist. You can ask for pedicure gift certificates at your baby shower.
Regular exercise improves circulation and reduces swelling. Prenatal yoga, workout classes designed for pregnancy, walking, and swimming are all great options to stay active.
Make sure that you consult with your doctor about your exercise plans. They will talk to you about any unique health concerns and the type of exercise that best suits your needs.
8. Wear Loose Pants
Avoid any tight clothing that restricts your circulation. If you can see an imprint on your skin around your hips, it’s time to retire those pants. Find some loose pants that are easy to move in.
9. Don’t Cross Your Legs
It’s considered safe to cross your legs during pregnancy. However, your feet will be better off if you avoid it. Sitting in a chair with legs crossed or sitting cross-legged on the floor can restrict blood flow to the lower body. It can also be uncomfortable for your joints and ligaments.
To avoid swelling and discomfort in the lower legs and feet, sit with your feet flat on the floor. You may also prop them up on a footrest or ottoman. When doing this, focus on keeping your hips even. This will improve blood flow and be easier on your joints.
10. Monitor Your Sodium Intake
Eating a balanced diet is always useful, but especially so during pregnancy. The same can be said about watching how much salt you’re consuming. Reducing your sodium intake can help with foot swelling.
Avoid prepackaged foods since they are high in sodium. Potato chips, luncheon meats, and fast food are also foods to avoid. Be aware that sodium is often hidden in drinks and unexpected foods, so you’ll want to check nutrition charts carefully.
11. Stay Hydrated
Staying properly hydrated will help reduce swelling in the feet and ankles. It does this by flushing out excess fluids. The standard recommendation of eight glasses of water a day applies during pregnancy as well.
12. Massage Your Feet
Gently massaging your feet can improve the aches, reduce swelling, and improve circulation. If you can do this yourself, or have a partner do it, that’s great. If you can’t reach your feet place a tennis ball on the floor and lightly roll it under your foot. Aim to massage your feet for a few minutes every day.
If your partner is massaging your feet, ask them to place your feet in their lap on a pillow. This can double as time where your feet are elevated, crossing another care item off your list.
How To Know When It’s Time To Visit a Podiatrist in Kelowna, BC
If you’re experiencing foot pain or discomfort you can consult a podiatrist for help. Foot and ankle specialists will be able to perform an exam, diagnose the issues, and provide a treatment plan. They will also be able to go over your daily life and offer advice on prevention techniques.
Your specialist may suggest orthotics to improve foot support and keep your joints in alignment. They may also help if issues like corns, calluses, or ingrown toenails appear. These can all become worse with time and are better to have addressed sooner rather than later.
Pregnancy is a joyful time but also one that requires a lot of self-care. Pain or discomfort in the feet and ankles are a common issue and one that you don’t want to ignore. Contact Island Foot Clinics today to book an appointment with one of our doctors.