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Will You Have Bigger Feet After Pregnancy?

Alison Wood |19, March 2013


The farthest thing from your mind six weeks postpartum is shoe shopping. But here you are! Your adorable Mary Janes from the last few years are squishing your tootsies. You can't wait until you're home so you can rip off the shoes and go bare-foot comfortably. But right now you are trying to scope out some stylish shoes for your seemingly larger feet. This was not in the plan. Bigger feet after pregnancy? No one mentioned a word of this to you! Are you alone in the "bigger feet after pregnancy" club?

The American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation recently reported that a longitudinal study was performed on 49 women throughout their pregnancy. These women had their static and dynamic arch measurements recorded in the first trimester and 19 weeks postpartum. At 19 weeks postpartum the results were calculated and recorded. The arch height and rigidity significantly decreased which caused the foot to actually become longer as well as the arch dropping. The results also indicated that between 60 to 70 percent of the women experienced swelling during pregnancy that led to wider and longer feet five months after birth. On average, the women gained a 2-10 millimeter increase in their foot length. Researchers also noted that the arch drop in the first pregnancy was more significant that subsequent pregnancies.

Why did this happen?

Doctors and medical researchers hypothesize that the combination of added weight and looseness on the joints lead to the undesirable changes of postpartum feet.

Is it permanent?

The extra length in your feet gained from the arch losing its height will most likely be permanent. However, the extra padding around your feet can be due to extra fat deposits during pregnancy. These could disappear as you continue to lose the baby weight through a healthy diet and exercise plan.

How could I have prevented this?

No reliable evidence is available that foot-flattening during pregnancy can be prevented. However, some people suggest that better prenatal foot care may add in better distribution of the weight and lessen the drop of the arch. Others think that a woman closely monitoring her weight during pregnancy could prevent a larger drop in the arch.

Could bigger feet pose a danger to my health?

Women who have carried full-term pregnancies are at an increased risk for pain and arthritis in their hips, feet, joints and spine than women who have never given birth. A flattened foot can also strain the ligaments in the sole of the foot which could place extra strain in the knee area.

Is there any progress being made to prevent or correct the changes in feet after pregnancy?

The American Journal of Medicine and Rehabilitation acknowledges the need for research to be conducted in order to see if rehabilitation procedures could have a positive effect on arch drops in postpartum women. Other researchers and doctors are also considering further study on prevention and possible treatment for larger feet resulting from pregnancy.

Besides the size of my feet, are there other foot issues I should be concerned with?

Yes. Most women are concerned about the appearance of their shoes and feet. They want to look stylish and cute. Pedicures and the latest fashions help them achieve this goal. However, as a pregnant woman's feet swell or grow she needs to wear more comfortable shoes that do not pinch her toes or cause walking to become a tedious action. If the pregnant woman does not choose comfort over style, she may experience ingrown toenails, corns, bunions and other foot problems later on. Women always need to provide stability, comfort and support in their shoes, but especially during pregnancy. Many problems can be prevented by wearing proper-fitting foot-wear.

Alison Wood is a stay-at-home mom of six and freelance writer and blogger. She enjoys raising her six children and desires to share her experiences to help other mothers.

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