During all three of my pregnancies I swore my feet were growing. Even the comfy shoes I loved so much no longer fit and I was left with slippers and oversized shoes that I inevitably threw away after birth. At that time there was no clinical proof that pregnancy caused foot size to grow, but that is no longer the case. A new clinical study now proves women all over the world have been telling the truth the whole time. Your feet will grow during pregnancy – it is not a figment of your imagination.
Science Has Verified Pregnant Women’s Claims of Foot Growth
The small-scale study included less than 50 women, but the results were significant. Up to 70% of women in the study experienced foot growth. The specific differences in foot size from pre-pregnancy to pregnancy varied – 2mm to 10mm increase. Researchers also noted a drop in foot arch, but that could be attributed to progesterone that loosens just about everything in the female body during pregnancy.
Foot arches do not appear to fully recover from the effects of pregnancy and the lower arch is often retained for life. The first pregnancy appears to affect arches the most. Researchers did not note whether foot length returned to normal after pregnancy, but my feet actually stayed bigger by one size after my third and final pregnancy.
So, ladies…you are not crazy when you approach your obstetrician asking why your shoes no longer fit. You may be told to wear comfortable shoes with lots of space and support – for good reason – but that doesn’t address the issue at hand. Foot growth during pregnancy may be an indication as to why women, especially child-bearing women, suffer from musculoskeletal disorders more often than men. More research is needed into how feet grow and arches drop and that research could lead to medical advances in arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions.
Source: Segal, Neil A. MD, MS, CSCS; Boyer, Elizabeth R. MS; Teran-Yengle, Patricia PT, MA; Glass, Natalie A. MA; Hillstrom, Howard J. PhD; Yack, H. John PT, PhD. Pregnancy Leads to Lasting Changes in Foot Structure. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: March 2013 - Volume 92 - Issue 3 - p 232–240. DOI: 10.1097/PHM.0b013e31827443a9.