Can swollen feet be a sign of a serious problem?
According to the Mayo Clinic, pressure from your growing uterus on the veins that return blood from your feet and legs may leave you with swollen feet and ankles, a common pregnancy complaint for many women in their second and third trimesters.
There are several other common factors that can contribute to swollen feet. The University of Maryland Medical Center points out that temperature and/or weather in addition to physical activity can affect your feet, and that "feet can change shape and increase in size by as much as five percent depending on whether a person is walking, sitting, or standing."
Sometimes, however, swollen feet indicate a more serious condition known as preeclampsia—a pregnancy-induced hypertension which occurs in five to 10 percent of pregnancies. "Symptoms that can appear in association with high blood pressure include excessive swelling of the hands, face, or feet," says Margaret Buxton, a certified nurse midwife at the Vanderbilt University's School of Nursing's West End Women's Health Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Your OB-GYN or midwife will check your urine for increased protein, which would confirm preeclampsia. "Swelling of the feet in the absence of protein in the urine and high blood pressure is usually benign," says Buxton.
If you have preeclampsia, your physician may provide several solutions, such as bed rest or even hospitalization. Preeclampsia can lead to serious health problems for the mother such as weakened nervous system, blood vessels, and kidneys, as well as permanent problems for the oxygen-deprived unborn baby.
Are these foot problems permanent?
Most women's feet will return to a normal size within a few months after childbirth. Some mothers' feet grow one-half to one shoe size—permanently. Other than needing a new postnatal shoe wardrobe, your feet should be fine.
Although the incidence is rare, Dr. Douglas Albreski, director of Podiatric Dermatology Services at the University of Connecticut Health Center, reports that a few pregnant women visit his office each year due to an inflammation of the foot called plantar fasciitis. According to Dr. Albreski, pregnancy is a risk factor for this condition because added weight during pregnancy puts so much pressure on feet.