Feet enlarged

If you like shopping for shoes, you'll appreciate this aspect of pregnancy. Your feet may be spreading, changing your shoe size. Hormonal changes that relax the ligaments and joints in your pelvis in preparation for delivery also relax all the other ligaments and joints in your body, including those in your feet. While these changes are normal and necessary, they can make the arch ligament of the foot (the plantar fascia) stretch under your body's extra weight. As a result, the arch may lose some of its supporting strength, and your feet grow flatter and wider. They may be as much as a full shoe size larger.

On top of these changes, your feet may swell due to the normal fluid retention of pregnancy. And if your weight gain is significant, your feet may carry a little extra fat.

The swelling in your feet should go down shortly after delivery. But it can take up to six months for the other changes in your feet to reverse themselves and your feet to return to their normal size and shape. If the plantar fascia has been stretched excessively, your feet may be permanently larger.

■ Prevention and self-care for enlarged feet

As your feet expand, it's important to wear shoes that will provide comfort and support for your feet and ankles. Buy a couple of pairs of shoes that fit you well now and will remain comfortable if your feet continue to grow. Avoid narrow-toed or high-heeled shoes. Look for low heels, non-skid soles and plenty of space for your feet to spread out.

Canvas or leather shoes are good choices because they allow your feet to breathe. Good running shoes are a wise choice. You should also be able to find work and dress shoes that meet these criteria. If your feet are aching and tired at the end of the day, try wearing elasticized slippers.

■ Medical care for enlarged feet

Some shoes and orthotic inserts are specially designed for pregnancy. They're meant to make your feet more comfortable and reduce back and leg pain. Ask your health care provider for a recommendation.

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