Pregnancy Can Make Your Feet Bigger…Forever

Pregnancy makes everything bigger, including your feet. But unlike with losing baby weight, you might not be able to drop down to your pre-pregnancy shoe size since the change, for some women, is permanent, according to a new study.

It's common knowledge that feet swell temporarily from water retention during pregnancy. But the permanent growth has to do with fallen arches, according to researchers at The University of Iowa whose study—which was published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation—who measured the arch height and foot length of 49 women during pregnancy and five months after they'd given birth. They found that 60 to 70 percent of the women had longer feet and shorter arches following delivery.

While this is the first study of its kind to measure foot size after childbirth (seriously? no one thought to do this before!?), permanent changes in the sizes and shapes of different body parts is a familiar subject for doctors, midwives, and women who have been through pregnancy and childbirth. You see, there's this thing called Relaxin, which sounds like it could be the title of a Michael McDonald album, but really it's a hormone released in pregnant women's bodies that allows their ligaments to loosen up so that their bones can spread and become more malleable to allow room for the growing fetus and so that your pelvis can open up nice and wide for the baby to pass through.

The bummer part is that Relaxin can reshape your body permanently in ways you might not like. For instance, your rib cage: no matter how much weight you lose, your expanded rib cage will make it so you won't be able pull the zippers up all the way on some of your old clothes. In my case, the Relaxin, combined with the weight of my heavy, baby-filled stomach, had made my very mild, almost undetectable curvature of my spine into some very serious adult scoliosis.

Similar to my spine, when it comes to feet, the extra weight during pregnancy puts more stress on the feet, flattening the arch and spreading the loosened joints and ligaments. The good news is that according to the study, women's first pregnancy has the greatest impact on their change in shoe size, which doesn't seem to be compounded with each pregnancy.

Image via kkymek/Shutterstock

After Pregnancy, Women Have Bigger Feet [Discovery]