Why do my feet hurt during pregnancy?

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In addition to overall weight gain and a noticeably swollen abdomen, a number of women have swollen feet and legs while they are expecting.

The additional weight can put more pressure on the feet, which can make it difficult for some women to move quickly while pregnant.

This is usually more common during the last trimester, which is why some women tend to walk very slowly a month or two before giving birth.

A change in circulation patterns in the feet and legs can also lead to pregnancy-related foot pain.

Fortunately, there are some things expectant mothers can do to treat their foot pain to make pregnancy a little more bearable.

It’s also best for pregnant women to know the reasons for foot pain so that the right treatments can be administered.

Plantar Fascitis 

During pregnancy, the body starts to do things that it would not normally do. During the first trimester of pregnancy, some women gain weight quickly, and this can cause swelling of the plantar fascia of the foot.

Wearing shoes that have no support and exercising in shoes with little support, especially in the summer season, can make the swelling worse.

Dr. Alan Berman, who is a podiatrist at in Carmel, New York at Somers Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine says that sharp heel pain is one of the main symptoms of plants fascitis.

Dr. Berman also asserts that relaxin, a hormone that a woman’s body releases to help make the ligaments looser for the birthing process, can also contribute to foot pain.

A recent study in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation states that changes in the shape and size of the foot can be permanent, which is why it’s best for women to do as much as they can to reduce foot pain and inflammation while pregnant.


There are instances in which the weight of pregnancy puts so much pressure on the body that the arches in the feet begin to flatten, which can make walking or be standing uncomfortable.

This can also lead to edema and over-pronation, which is when the feet are swollen and start to turn inward due to lack of arch support.

Over-pronation during pregnancy is actually more common than some women may think. Timothy C. Ford, a physician at St. Mary’s and podiatric residency program director in Louisville, KY, confirms this.

Ford shares that over-pronation can cause stretching of the plantar fascia, and this can result in inflammation.

Dr. Ford also states that edema is a common complaint during pregnancy because of the accumulation of bodily fluids and blood that are necessary for the development and sustenance of the baby.

This, combined with gravity, can make for swollen limbs and limited mobility.

The combination of edema and over-pronation can make pregnancy unnecessarily uncomfortable.

So, women who have experienced this or want to avoid it can take some precautionary measures to make the journey of carrying a child more enjoyable.

Ways that Foot Swelling Affects the Body 

For some women, the arches of their feet are no longer felt due to inflammation.

Some pregnant women can’t stand for long periods of time, but extended sitting can be painful as well.

This interferes with a woman’s ability to exercise and remain physically active during pregnancy, which sometimes results in excess weight gain.

Propping up the legs and feet as often as possible can be helpful, but there are even more practical tips that women can take advantage of.

Foot pain can also be the result of chronic back pain. When the back is not able to properly support the weight of the body, the pressure will go to the feet.

Back pain is another common symptom of pregnancy, so some women may need to get safe painkillers from their physicians that will treat discomfort in both the back and lower extremities.

Infections, fungus, and spurs can lead to foot pain during pregnancy as well. It’s important for women to eat a diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals to ensure that the immune system is working well.

Reducing sugar and overly fatty foods can also help to relieve pain. Spurs, which are calcium deposits that settle on the bones, can cause discomfort as well. Staying hydrated can help to relieve this issue.

Treatment and Prevention for Foot Pain 

Pregnant women who want to work out regularly may want to try swimming or an elliptical machine since these activities don’t put too much pressure on the feet.

Water-based and elliptical workouts can also help with swelling and pain since they help to extract fluid from the body and promote circulation.

It’s also helpful for women to wear insoles to establish the shape of the feet and provide more support while walking and running.

Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, can also prevent swelling and foot pain. This will flush salt from the body and keep the feet and legs from retaining fluid.

Following a low-sodium diet can also keep salt from building in the body, which can prevent edema.

Reducing caffeine can treat foot pain as well because caffeine can cause the body to hold on to fluid for longer periods of time.

In addition to elevating the feet, it’s important to ice the feet and legs as well. The cool temperature will both reduce edema and eliminate pain.

Pregnant women should be aware of their physical limits if foot pain is an issue and be comfortable with sharing this with their friends and family.

The more pregnant women with edema move, the more the feet with swell and begin to hurt. Limiting walking and workout times will keep the swelling from getting too intense.

Sleeping on the side instead of on the back can reduce foot pain during sleep. When the body is on the side, the vena cava doesn’t have pressure.

This is the vein that leads to the heart, and when this vein is free to circulate blood to and from the heart.

This is the largest vein that leads to the heart, so it needs to be open to function properly during sleep so that pregnant women won’t wake up with a foot or lower body pain.

Pregnant women should also monitor their weight to make sure that they are not gaining too much weight due to swelling.

It is healthy to gain 25 to 35 pounds during the entire pregnancy, so reaching this weight too early in the pregnancy or going over this weight could be a sign of edema.

Rotating the feet and legs can promote circulation as well. Sitting down with one leg raised and rotating the opposite leg 10 times to the left, then to the right can alleviate pain.

Switching legs often to perform the exercise can create even circulation on both sides of the body.

When it comes to shopping for shoes, it’s best to shop later in the day, since the feet tend to be more swollen as the day progresses.

Trying shoes on before leaving the store ensures that the shoes will fit even when the feet are not extremely swollen. Some women may want to avoid shoes with a pointed toe during pregnancy to stay comfortable while walking.

Shoes with a round or square toe are best for feet that have a tendency to swell. When shopping for boots, it’s best to choose shoes that have to give or room in the calves, since the calves could swell after walking for long period of time.

A boot with a side zipper may also be helpful since these are easier to take on and off than boots that have to be pulled on.

Any time the heel of a shoe becomes worn, it’s best to replace it right away, since an uneven heel can make it hard for pregnant women to maintain their balance while standing.

Natural Remedies for Foot Pain

In addition to practical ways to reduce pain in the feet and legs, there are some herbal solutions that are safe for pregnant women to try.

Chamomile tea can be an effective remedy for treating minor foot pain. The herb also relieves inflammation and can be used to relax the body, so it’s best to have a cup or two before bed.

Soaking the feet in a solution of baking soda, water, and apple cider vinegar can reduce swelling in the feet and get rid of spurs as well.

Consuming aloe vera juice helps to lubricate the internal organs, take away inflammation and enhance the body’s defense systems so that pain won’t occur as often in the feet and legs.

Finally, applying creams to the feet can help to get rid of foot pain as well. The skin on the feet is about twenty times tougher than the skin on the rest of the body, so choosing moisturizers with natural ingredients like vitamin E and C or aloe vera can soothe the skin and get rid of the pain.

Massaging the cream onto the feet will also help with pain and make for a more restful night’s sleep.

This helpful video also provides a more in-depth explanation for pregnancy-related foot pain, along with tangible solutions that will relieve discomfort and inflammation.

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