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    It’s safe to say pregnancy causes a lot of body changes, aside from the obvious waistline expansion. ‘Pregnancy nose,’ ‘pregnancy gums,’ and ‘pregnancy feet’ are all normal changes that occur when a woman is expecting. Ed Robertson, Physical Therapist at Pullman Regional Hospital’s Summit Therapy & Health Services, explains what ‘pregnancy foot’ is and how to make smart shoe choices while pregnant.


    I’m pregnant- why don’t my shoes fit?


    It is a common notion that a woman’s feet “grow” a shoe size during pregnancy. “They don’t actually grow, but rather spread out,” notes Robertson. On average, a woman will gain a full shoe size, most of that with the first baby and not much after that with any subsequent pregnancies. 


    What causes ‘pregnancy feet’?


    The hormone Relaxin that begins circulating throughout a pregnant woman’s body to soften the ligaments of the pelvis in preparation for the birth also affects other ligaments of the body, especially the feet. The extra stress on the feet with the typical added body weight can be compounded if the expectant mother has swollen feet or chooses very loose-fitting shoes that she doesn’t have to bend over to put on or tie. 


    This is what leads to a permanent spread of the architecture of the foot. The good news? A post-pregnancy shoe shopping spree may be in your future!


    What shoes are best for pregnant women?


    “It’s okay to be pregnant, and it’s okay to be barefoot. Please just avoid being barefoot and pregnant,” says Robertson. He recommends a supportive sandal like Chocos, Birkenstocks, or Keens that can be adjusted for fit as needed and easily donned. Look specifically for sandals and shoes that provide arch support and don’t allow your feet to lay flat (like they would if you were barefoot). 


    When inside the home, a house slipper, such as the ones by Vionic, is great for the last trimester through the first six months after childbirth. 


    It’s normal to experience sore and swollen ankles and feet during pregnancy, but if you experience sharp pain or trouble bearing weight, talk to your primary care provider. Summit Therapy & Health Services offers a wide range of therapy options- including physical therapy and pelvic health therapy. 

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