Patient Guide: Foot Changes During Pregnancy

Pregnant women often see changes in foot size and shape


ROSEMONT, Ill. (Oct. 7, 2015) – Many women experience foot changes during pregnancy. The size of the feet may increase and the arches may become flatter. Some women also notice instability in their feet or ankles. For some these changes are temporary and pass after giving birth, but others notice permanent foot changes that affect the shoes they are able to wear.
Why does pregnancy affect the feet? Think weight gain and hormonal shifts.
“Normal pregnancy weight gain can cause changes in the way a woman walks and lead to instability, and fluid build-up in the lower extremities makes the feet larger,” says Sudheer Reddy, MD, an orthopaedic foot and ankle specialist in Frederick, Md. “Hormonal changes also make the ligaments of the foot looser, which in turn affects arch height and foot length.”
What can pregnant women do about uncomfortable foot changes? Orthopaedic foot and ankle specialists offer several suggestions.
“Compression stockings can help reduce swelling,” says Reddy, “as can regular walking and low-impact exercise. Proper hydration and frequent calf stretching can also help reduce foot and ankle discomfort during pregnancy.”
To learn more about how feet change during pregnancy, visit the Foot Changes During Pregnancy page at, the patient education site of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS).
About the AOFAS
The AOFAS promotes quality, ethical and cost-effective patient care through the education, research and training of orthopaedic surgeons and other health care providers. The Society creates public awareness for the prevention and treatment of foot and ankle disorders, provides leadership, and serves as a resource for government and industry as well as the national and international health care communities.​

About Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeons
Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons are medical doctors (MD and DO) who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries of the foot and ankle. Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons use medical, physical and rehabilitative methods as well as surgery to treat patients of all ages. Relying on four years of medical school training, five years of post-graduate training and often a fellowship in foot and ankle care, orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons perform reconstructive procedures, treat sports injuries, and manage and treat trauma of the foot and ankle. 
Jennifer Hicks
Director of Public Education