The joys of pregnancy. Not only do you get to look forward to hip and back pain, but your feet will hurt, swell, and more than likely end up permanently changed for the worse. Hooray!
How feet change with pregnancy
According to a 2013 study from the University of Iowa, pregnancy permanently changes the size and shape of woman’s feet: due to weight gain and the relaxing of your joints, arch height decreases significantly, making the foot longer and wider.
What’s bad about this, according to info from the Australian Podiatry Association, is that as your foot rolls inward on its flatter arch, other parts of your leg now have to work harder to keep you upright. This can be painful and cause injuries down the road.
“We know that women, and especially women who have had children, are disproportionately affected by musculoskeletal disorders,” says Neil Segal, M.D., UI associate professor of orthopedics and rehabilitation. “It is possible that these foot changes that occur during pregnancy may help explain why, in comparison with men, women are at higher risk for pain or arthritis in their feet, knees, hips and spines.”
The best types of shoes for pregnancy
The least you can do is start strong and give yourself a break in the footwear department. Flat shoes with a cushioned innersole and decent arch support will keep you comfortable, safe, and add some measure of injury prevention.
This means no heels. I repeat, no heels. It might sound terrible to many of you out there, but if you’re a heel addict, the pros recommend skipping them during pregnancy.
There are two other things to consider as well: swelling, and accessibility. Many women’s feet go up half or even a whole size during pregnancy, so you may need to buy a pair that’s a size up. As that belly grows, it becomes harder and harder to get your shoes on! This is where slip-ons become crucial.
Suddenly, the shopping landscape is looking bleak, but consider it a challenge. Try to shop for comfort first, style second. It’s one of many priority shifts coming your way. Below are a few options that will still look cute and help you keep your new health concerns top-of-mind.
Top Shoes Picks for Pregnancy
Adidas ZX Flux
The Flux from Adidas ($105) is as sleek as a sneaker comes. Depending on your color palette, this is one you can easily get away with at the office. Speaking of color palettes, Adidas lets you customize everything from the type of mesh to the color of the heel frame, which by the way, is designed for added stability. Bonus: Since they are sneakers, an orthotic can easily be added.
Cole Haan Reiley Loafer
If you definitely can’t get away with a sneaker at the office, I recommend splurging on any shoe made with Cole Haan’s Grand.os technology. As a seasoned Cole Haan discount and sale shopper, I’ve become very familiar with this technology. What it means is that Cole Haan specializes in disguising sneakers and dress shoes. If you keep a close eye on discount stores like DSW and Amazon, as well as the Cole Haan Outlet, you can likely nab a pair of these sneaky beauties for as low as $60. If you pay full price, they can go as high as $180.
When warm weather combines with swelling feet, sandals are called for. The only problem is arch support. With the OluKai brand ($75), you’ll find a cultish following of women who swear the support provided is great, and the sandals are so comfortable they magically “meld with your foot,” so you forget you’re wearing anything at all. Other bonuses include solid construction that should last a few seasons, a simple wear-anywhere design, and the on-and-off ease of flip flops.
Sofft is another brand that focuses on hidden comfort. The Somers ($80) have the classic styling of slip-on Vans with hidden arch support, breathable leather lining (even in the footbed), and high-end materials for the uppers like nubuck leather.
Rockport Zero Moreza Chukka Bootie
Here we have a cute bootie ($80) that somehow meshes together hiking shoe stability with the weight of a running shoe. Rockport markets to an older crowd but, if you have the patience to look, provides some surprisingly cute options for comfort-seekers of all ages, including those with plantar fasciitis and rapidly flattening, pregnant feet.
The Dark Horse: Skecher’s Go Walk
I have to include the Skecher’s Go Walk ($40-$70). Everyone, just stop cringing due to thinking these are ugly and/or thinking the arch support is nil. I have to tell you a story. In first grade, I had this amazing, nice, beautiful, glamorous teacher, Mrs. Bean. She wore pumps all day to instruct 6-year-olds. Then she would choose the child who had been the most well-behaved to go into her closet and get out her “slippers.” She would change into these slippers and make a huge deal about how she now felt that she had clouds on her feet.
She’d give the child a sticker, smile for the rest of the afternoon, and let us read whatever we wanted. Those of us not chosen to bequeath the slippers would seethe with jealousy and try to outdo each other in good behavior the next day. This woman was a genius, clearly.
She flew into my mind the first time I slipped into a pair of these babies. My sister sent them when I was about six months pregnant with my son. I can’t vouch for their style except to say that if you get the black, they look passable, and somewhat cute with black leggings, or with joggers made out of a nice material. I have also heard from some pros that the arch support isn’t stellar, but I never had a problem. My suggestion is to get a pair and put them on at the end of a hard day, just like Mrs. Bean.