CircleBumpCheckedFilledMedicalBookmarkBookmarkTickBookmarkAddCheckBoxCheckBoxFilled

Do Feet Grow During Pregnancy?

Old wives' tale or weird reality?
save article
profile picture of Jessica L. McKinney
By Jessica L. McKinney, Physical Therapist
Updated June 2, 2017
Hero Image

The strangeness of pregnancy strikes again. Yes, your feet can actually get bigger during pregnancy—and yes, it’s often permanent. But it doesn’t happen to everyone. Here’s why it happens, what to do if your feet get bigger, and how can you help prevent foot growth during pregnancy.

Why Do Feet Grow During Pregnancy?

Feet can grow for a few reasons. The foot is made up of 26 bones and more than 30 joints that are held together by a network of ligaments. During pregnancy, there’s a relaxation, or loosening, of the ligaments throughout your whole body. It’s your body’s way of preparing the pelvic joints for childbirth, and your fluctuating hormonal levels are believed to be what causes it.

Weight gain also contributes. Now that your body weighs more, it puts more strain and stress on your feet, which can cause the joints to widen. Got swelling in your feet? That’s a factor too.

Bigger Feet—Or Just Swollen Feet?

Can’t tell whether your feet are just swollen or if they’re truly growing? Look for longevity. In other words, foot growth will last—your shoes that feel tight on Monday at 10 a.m. will still feel tight on Thursday at 5 p.m.—while swelling is bound to fluctuate. Usually, feet are more swollen at night than in the morning, and certain activities and positions and even your diet can cause them to swell more or less.

Compression stockings, regular massage and cardiovascular exercise (as long as your doctor has okayed it) can all help control foot swelling. You should also elevate your feet at the end of the day. While they’re elevated, point and flex at the ankles—up to 50 times!—to help bring excess fluid up from the feet and legs.

If your feet do grow, the good news is that it won’t hurt. The only reasons you’d have pain would be if you kept wearing shoes that were too small or if you had another foot problem caused by altered joint function (and if you did, that would be treatable!).

Related Video

You’ll probably have to go up a half to a whole shoe size, and even though you may not want to give up those cute old Louboutins, it’s important to wear a shoe that fits you well (even after pregnancy) to prevent foot problems. There are a few pre-pregnancy shoes you may be able to get away with, like a soft leather moccasin that has some stretch, but sorry, nothing stiff. Use this as a great excuse to do some shoe shopping.

How To Prevent Foot Growth During Pregnancy

If you’re freaked out about growing out of your favorite shoes, the good news is that there are a few ways you can reduce your chances that your feet will get bigger:

Wear supportive shoes. Be sure you have shoes that support your arches (think: sneakers, not floppy ballet flats) and shoes that don’t squeeze or pinch anywhere (stay away from those pointy-toe numbers that don’t give you any wiggle room).

Try compression socks or stockings. These can help control lower-extremity swelling.

Avoid excessive weight gain. Do your best to stay within the recommended weight gain range for your body type to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on your feet.

Try supportive insoles. These can be particularly effective if you already have low arches (“flat feet”). Ask your doctor or physical therapist if they might be right for you.

Do foot-muscle exercises. These moves can help strengthen the muscles that help support the foot: Stand on one leg, pick up marbles with your toes, scrunch a towel with your toes, stand or sit and raise up onto your tiptoes and then back on your heels (the tiptoe/heel exercise can help with swelling too!).

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

save article
ADVERTISEMENT

Next on Your Reading List

pregnant woman with milk stain on shirt
When Does Milk Start Leaking During Pregnancy?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman eating a salad in kitchen at home
Why You Might Experience Loss of Appetite in Early Pregnancy (and Beyond)
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman sitting on couch with feet up
How to Relieve Swollen Feet During Pregnancy
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
closeup of hands on pregnant belly
How to Relieve Swollen Hands During Pregnancy
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman holding a hot cup of tea
How to Relieve a Sore Throat in Pregnancy
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
toilet paper holder on red background
Why You Might Have Blood in Your Stool While Pregnant
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman holding ultrasound photo over belly
How Much Does the Uterus Grow in Pregnancy?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
pregnant woman sitting on couch with blanket
Why You Might Be Feeling Cold in Pregnancy
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
smiling pregnant woman feeling belly while sitting on couch at home
7 Ways to Get Baby to Move in Utero
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman drinking a glass of water
Why You Might Have a Dry Mouth in Pregnancy
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
pregnant woman with round ligament pain
What Round Ligament Pain Feels Like—and How to Find Relief
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman with hip pain sleeping with pregnancy pillow
What to Do About Hip Pain During Pregnancy
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
tired pregnant woman napping on the couch
Pregnancy Fatigue: Why You're Exhausted—and What to Do About It
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
close up of pregnant woman with hands on lower back
How to Relieve Back Pain in Pregnancy
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman wearing a bikini on the beach
What’s the Deal With So-Called ‘Pregnancy Glow?’
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pensive pregnant woman looking down by sunny window
How to Treat (and Prevent) a Yeast Infection During Pregnancy
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
close up of pregnant belly, side view
How Your Vaginal Discharge Can Change During Pregnancy
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
doctor checking woman's eyes with flashlight
Why You Might Experience Some Blurry Vision in Pregnancy
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman resting in bed
What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome in Pregnancy?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman looking down and holding belly at home
When Do You Start Showing in Pregnancy?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
Article removed.
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List