Best Shoes for Pregnancy Reviewed & Rated

In addition to all the other physical, mental, and emotional changes of pregnancy, there are a number of changes in the feet as well. Rapid weight changes and the change in the body’s center of gravity alter your gait and body mechanics, while hormonal changes affect the joints and connective tissues. All of these changes put extra pressure on your feet as they stabilize and balance your quickly changing body.

It’s important to choose the shoes that will best support you during maternity and after. The right shoes for pregnancy will provide extra support, help maintain balance and stability, and protect your body. And yet your body is also changing so quickly that it can be hard to anticipate your needs, and your feet may change faster than expected. This guide to the best shoes for pregnancy will help you plan for your needs – before the baby is born, and afterward.

Pregnancy affects every part of a woman’s body but can have particular (and sometimes) unexpected effects on her feet. Changes in weight distribution, gait, flexibility, and balance all affect how a pregnant woman stands, walks, and moves, and place extra demands on her feet. While every woman expects to go shopping for maternity clothes, she will need to pick up some maternity shoes as well.

Best Sandal for Pregnancy Listed

How Does Pregnancy Affect the Feet?

Pregnancy affects the feet in many ways, some of which may be surprising. Here are some of the foot changes to expect when you are expecting.

  • Swollen Feet & Ankles

When you are pregnant, your body creates up to 50% more blood and fluids. These fluids help to protect and nourish the baby, as well as help to soften and expand the body and prepare the tissues and joints for delivery.

In addition to all this additional fluid, the increased size and weight of the uterus puts more pressure on your veins, making it more difficult for your heart and muscles to return blood and fluids to the upper body. So the feet and ankles usually accumulate excess fluids and become swollen, making it more difficult or even painful to wear your pre-pregnancy shoes.

  • Center of Gravity Changes

As the stomach expands and becomes heavier, your body’s center of gravity shifts to counter-balance the new weight distribution. This change in balance causes the pelvis and hips to tilt to adapt, which changes how the knees and ankles stabilize the body and changes how pressure and impacts are distributed through the feet and into the body. This change in the body’s center of gravity changes pressure and weight distribution in the feet, so shoes that were once comfortable may not be adequate during pregnancy.

  • Feet Get Larger

Not only do the feet swell, but they actually get longer, increasing the shoe size of many pregnant women. Pregnancy causes the body to create hormones that relax your tendons and ligaments, helping to ease childbirth. But these hormones can also relax the tendons and ligaments that suspend the arches of the feet. As the arches relax, the foot gets flatter and longer, and the arch no longer provides as much flexible support and shock absorption as it did. In pregnancy, a woman often needs larger shoes with more arch support to compensate for her changing feet.

  • The Body Gets Heavier

During pregnancy, a woman can get much heavier much more quickly than other forms of weight gain, which are often more gradual over time. While much of the increased weight of pregnancy is due to the baby itself, much of it is also due to the increased fluids in the body.

Either way, the feet have to support more body weight than they are accustomed to, and there is greater downward pressure on the feet, ankles, and knees. This change in body weight can happen rapidly, giving the muscles less time to naturally grow stronger and compensate. This puts more pressure on the bones and connective tissues to manage the increased weight, so it can not only strain the feet but strain the tendons and ligaments in the feet and ankles.

  • Increased Risk of Slipping and Falling

The rapid changes in the body’s center of gravity increased weight in the stomach, and looser joints of pregnancy, along with the mental changes that come with sleep loss and distraction, all combine to make pregnant women feel more clumsy and increase the risk of losing balance and slipping or falling. While it is unlikely that a normal fall will harm the baby, most pregnant women find themselves walking more carefully and shortening their gait.

  • Increased Spine Curvature

The weight of the baby in the stomach and the relaxation of tendons and ligaments result in a deepening curvature of the lower back throughout pregnancy, particularly if a woman has weaker core muscles. The steeply curved back has less protection from the impacts and pressure of motion, with reduced shock absorption that may lead to more lower back pain.

Pregnancy-Related Foot Changes May Be Permanent

Studies have shown that for many women, the first pregnancy permanently lowers the arch of the foot to some degree, making the foot longer and increasing her foot size. Pregnancies after the first one have diminished effects in this regard.

For many women, the tendency to retain fluid and have swollen feet actually gets worse just after giving birth but naturally goes away with a week or two. However, for some women, the tendency to retain fluids and have increased edema in the feet remains for long after childbirth.

What Should a Woman Look for in Maternity Shoes?

In order to compensate for these physical changes, and provide the best comfort and protection, pregnant women should look for shoes with the following features.

  • Arch support

As the arch naturally lowers and provides less support for the foot, the shoe should compensate by providing comfortable support.

  • Wide, Low Heel

A slightly elevated heel (2-3 centimeters) can actually be more comfortable for a pregnant woman than a flat heel. As the lower body has to work harder to return blood and fluids to the upper body, leg veins, and muscles and be strained. A low heel allows the calf muscles and Achilles tendon to not fully extend, giving them more room to relax, which can reduce cramping and pain in the legs.

  • Non-Slip Soles

Because of the increased risk of losing balance or falling during pregnancy, non-slip, non-skid soles on shoes are essential to help protect a woman and her baby during pregnancy.

  • Stability in The Soles

While you don’t want hard shoes that don’t offer any impact protection, you do need rigidity in the soles in order to comfortably bear weight and pressure, and provide the necessary stability.

  • Generous Fit

Don’t get shoes that are actually too big for your feet, because they won’t provide the necessary stability, and may rub or cause blisters. However, avoid tight or snug-fitting shoes, and look for the room across the bridge of the foot and within the toe box. The feet will swell more throughout the day, and be influenced by diet and exercise, but also may swell unpredictably. And the feet will also change over the course of the pregnancy, so shoes that were comfortable in month 6 may no longer be comfortable in month 8. Avoid shoes that don’t give your feet and toes some (literally) wiggle room.

Other Shoe Features for Pregnant Women to Consider

Besides the natural physical body changes of pregnancy and the resulting foot changes, there are a few other things a pregnant woman should consider in her maternity shoes.

  • Her Reduced Range of Motion

At a certain point in pregnancy, it can become difficult to reach, flex, and bend as freely as normally. This can make simple acts like tying shoes difficult, if not at times impossible. While many women choose athletic shoes during most of their pregnancy, there are times when slip-on become essential.

  • Ease of Cleaning The Shoes

Normal pregnant clumsiness can lead to more spills and messes, and it’s worse if you already have children to take care of. Shoes that not only protect the feet and socks from drops and spills but are also easy to clean, make life a little easier.

How to Alleviate Foot And Lower Body Pressure During Pregnancy

While shoe choice is critical for your health, mobility, comfort, and balance during pregnancy, there are other things you can do to support your best foot health while pregnancy.

  • Exercise

Gentle, low impact exercises that work the lower body muscles help to improve the circulation of blood and fluids away from the lower body. Light walking, swimming, or a gentle spin session will help the muscles of the legs support your circulation.

  • Hydration

It may seem counter-intuitive, but drinking lots of fluids actually reduce swelling. If you remain well-hydrated, it can signal the body that it doesn’t need to store so much fluid internally, and hydration also supports circulation. It can be frustrating to drink all the water you need when there is additional pressure on the bladder, but a pregnant woman should never skimp on hydration.

  • Stretching

Stretching may seem redundant since the pregnant body is already more flexible, but gentle stretching helps to relax and ease muscles that are working in unusual and unexpected ways. Stretching can help alleviate pressure and ease soreness.

  • Massage

Massage has many of the same benefits as stretching, but can be even more helpful for promoting deep relaxation and aiding circulation.

  • Elevate The Feet

When possible, elevate the feet above the heart so that gravity can naturally help blood and fluids return to the upper body. Remember that, while fluid retention and swelling are a normal part of pregnancy, severe and excessive swelling can be a sign of preeclampsia, and should immediately be treated by a doctor.

As the risk of preeclampsia persists for up to 4-6 weeks after childbirth, so continue to monitor your swelling after you have given birth. If you have severe swelling that isn’t eased by rest or elevating the feet, and particularly if it affects not just the feet, but also the face and hands, schedule a checkup with your doctor.

Finally, keep in mind that your body needs will change throughout pregnancy, so you may need different pairs of shoes to keep pace with your changing body. Be mindful of your feet, lower back, and knees feel as time goes on, so you can adjust as needed.

Can You Wear Heels During Pregnancy?

This should be an obvious one but still needs to be covered. The short answer is no, you should definitely not wear heels while you are pregnant. Your center of gravity changes as your weight increases and body starts to change which makes you walk differently and less steadily. In addition to that, your ligaments start to loosen up during pregnancy which often leads to muscle strain and instability. If you fall while pregnant, this could injure you and possibly your baby, so you don’t want to add more height to your growing birth.

Conclusion

Pregnancy puts new stresses and strain on your feet, legs, and lower back, and rapid changes in your joints, tissues, and weight distribution make it hard to find the right shoes to support you during this critical time. In fact, some of the foot changes in pregnancy can last for months or years afterward, and may even be permanent.

Finding the best shoes for pregnancy means being attentive to your body, your needs, and your comfort. With care and attention, the right shoes can help you be stable, comfortable, and supported throughout your pregnancy.

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