As you might guess, my perspective on footwear is biased. Happy Feet Plus sells footwear that emphasizes health and comfort. I look for information that reinforces our opinions on “proper footwear” when I write these blogs. In all of the research I did, as in-exhaustive as it might be, I never saw that anyone recommend that pregnant women should wear pointy-toed high heeled shoes or flip-flops. Instead, the consistent theme is flat or low-heeled shoes with a wide toe box and good support. Hey, that’s what we believe too!
So, what’s the connection to Edema? While wearing good footwear is important any time, it is especially important when you are pregnant. The added weight and altered center of gravity (see Are You Pregnant and Do Your Feet Hurt?) as well as the fluid retention create changes to a woman’s body that require a solid, stable base. Here’s where good footwear comes in.
As early as the second trimester you may find your shoes fitting a little bit tighter. They’re only going to get tighter so you might as well plan on getting new shoes. The swelling is usually caused by the increase in blood volume needed to transport oxygen and nutrients to your baby. Increasing levels of hormones also change blood vessels, joints, ligaments, and, well, your whole body. No wonder you feel swollen and bloated.
Gravity is largely responsible for fluid retention to be more pronounced in your feet, ankles, and calves. Your growing uterus also puts pressure on the veins that carry blood back from your lower body. Blood flow back from your feet is restricted and fluids stay in your feet and legs. Increases in foot size should be expected, but one foot should not swell more than another. If you do find this happening, see your doctor.
Until you give birth you’re going to have to live with Edema in your feet, but there are things you can do to minimize the impact:
- Have your feet measured several times throughout your pregnancy and wear the correct shoe size for your foot.
- Elevate your feet as often as possible. Use a small stool at work while seated at your desk.
- Wear seamless socks that do not constrict circulation or wear surgical stockings — with advice from your doctor.
- Keep active, but see your doctor before starting an exercise program. Walking is usually recommended. Try lying on your back and simulating riding a bike. This will exercise the muscles in the leg and reduce swelling.vDo not stand for long periods of time. Walking gets your calf muscles working, which helps pump some of the extra fluid out of your legs and feet.
- Take a bath or go swimming; the water puts an outside force on the swelling and helps to decrease it.
- If you are driving for a long period of time, take regular breaks to stretch your.
- Sleep on your side, not your back. This relieves pressure on the vena cava, the largest vein leading to the heart. Otherwise, the pressure slows the blood returning from your lower body.
- Consider reflexology to help decrease the swelling (or buy our exclusive Kenkoh Reflexology Sandal).
- Eat a well-balanced diet and avoid foods high in salt that can cause water retention.
- Drink plenty of water to keep the body hydrated. This helps the body retain less fluid.
Here are some shoe-buying tips:
- Choose shoes with a broad base, and a short heel.
- Choose shoes with a toe box that is high enough and wide enough to comfortably fit, either rounded or square shaped, not pointed.
- Choose shoes with extra shock absorption, a supportive arch, and firm heel.
- Look for a walking or athletic shoe with good shock absorption.
- Visit a local Pedorthist for a shoe-fitting recommendation. Pedorthists specialize in fitting shoes and orthotics to alleviate foot problems.
- Periodic measuring is recommended because the feet may increase in size during the pregnancy.
- Shop late in the day. Feet tend to swell as the day goes on.
- Be sure that the shoes fit properly before you leave the store.
- Buy boots with room in the calf area, because your calves may swell. Also choose a boot with a side zipper — they’re easier to get on and off than a pull-on style.
- Replace worn heels often. Uneven heels can throw you off balance.
- Wear comfortable, supportive footwear, ideally with a strap, laces, or Velcro.