Pregnancy & your feet

During pregnancy feet can be problematic and challenging, just reaching your feet in the later stages of pregnancy is not easy! Add to that swelling, cramps, aching, itchiness and varicose veins, feet and pregnancy don’t seem that appealing!

 But foot pain need not be an inevitable part of pregnancy.

Foot changes during pregnancy 

During pregnancy the body pumps hormones into the blood stream to help the development of the baby, loosening  joints in the mothers’s body to prepare for the birth. But these hormones also effect  your feet and ankles.

Due to natural weight gain in pregnancy, the centre of gravity is moved which changes the posture and walking pattern which can effect balance, which may result in additional pressure on the hips, knees and feet. 

Footwear – many women find that their shoe size increases by half to one size.

Top tips for choosing footwear during pregnancy

  • Make sure there is 1cm between the longest toe and the end of the shoe
  • Keep heel heights to about 3cm
  • Make sure shoes are wide and deep enough at the to box to accomodate the foot
  • Feet tend to swell during the day , so buy shoes later in the afternoon when your feet are largest
  • Choose a shoe with a strap to keep it firmly on your foot, avoiding fiddly straps that are tricky to do up
  • Take time to check your shoes fit properly, don’t rush into a purchase.
  • Try on both shoes and walk around the shop to check if they pinch or rub
  • Choose supportive footwear with extra shock absorbtion, supportive arch and firm heel


Ingrown toe nails can occur due to weight gain or swelling and not cutting your nails correctly. An ingrown nail is a piece or splinter of nail that pierces the flesh of the toe. This usually prompts women to see the podiatrist.

Toe nail cutting self help tips

  • Cut nails with larger nail nippers available from your podiatrist or chemist; with a longer handle and smaller cutting suface
  • Cut your nails straight across following the shape of the nail which is slightly curved. Do not cut too short or down the side of the nail
  • The corner of the nail shoiuld be visible above the skin

Why do my legs and feet swell?

The uterus puts pressure on the veins in the pelvis which slows down the return of blood to the heart. The blood vessels in the feet and ankles are among the smallest in the body. This causes some fluid to leak into the surrounding tissues of the legs and feet, causing swelling and sometimes throbbing. Feet can increase in size and you may need to change shoe size.

Self help to reduce swelling in feet and ankles

  • Put your feet and legs up whenever you can
  • Stretch legs and feet whenever possible, when you are driving
  • Don’t stand for long periods of time without a break
  • Wear comfortable, supportive footwear, ideally with a strap, laces or velcro
  • Don’t cross your legs or ankles when sitting

A note of caution!

Contact your GP or midwife immediately if you get: swelling of the face or around your eyes, noticeable swelling in one leg more than another; sudden or excessive swelling in your legs, feet & hands; if pain persists; excessive itchiness on skin of feet and ankles, particularly the soles; severe or prolonged cramps; skin lesions or moles; excessive or unusual bruising.

When you need extra help

It can take up to a year for your feet to recover after pregnancy. You shouldn’t have to put up with foot pain. A podiatrist can advise on treatment and prevention of your foot pain, footwear and lower limb problems.

Many women have no foot problems during pregnancy, but your podiatrist can still advise on nail care, foot and footwear care, and give your feet a health check, which can be comforting and helpful.