BEST SHOES FOR PREGNANCY

Motherhood can be one of the most rewarding of all life experiences. Carrying another life in the womb, though beautiful and precious, means that the feet are required to carry more as well. During the course of an average nine-month pregnancy, you can expect to gain an average of 25 – 35 pounds for a single child and 45 pounds or more with twins!

Maternity Shoes Matter: Your Guide to Selecting the Right Footwear for Your Pregnancy

In addition to the increased weight on the feet, expectant mothers experience a significant change in the center of gravity as their belly grows. This change in the center of gravity results in a loss of coordination and balance; it also changes the gait of women, especially in the later stages of pregnancy.

Most pregnant women also experience significant foot and ankle swelling during pregnancy, making some of their most beloved pairs of shoes too snug and uncomfortable to wear.

pregnant foot

This foot and ankle swelling is due to increased fluid levels found in the body during pregnancy settling in the feet because of gravitational pull. This can further complicate movement for moms-to-be.

While most changes experienced during pregnancy fade once the baby is born, a study published in Live Science by the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation concluded that some of the changes mothers’ feet may be permanent. The study showed that pregnancy may be associated with permanent changes in natural arch height, with the changes seen during a first pregnancy being the most significant.

Overall, 60% – 70% of mothers studied had longer and flatter feet following childbirth. Research has suggested that this is because hormones are released during pregnancy that allow for increased joint and ligament looseness and flexibility. This hormone increase, likely the body preparing for birth, can potentially make the foot more malleable and easily contorted under the increased pressure of pregnancy.

These changes in arch and feet could contribute to the increased risk for musculoskeletal disorders in women. Neil Segal, an associate profession at the University of Iowa and expert in orthopaedics and rehabilitation, explained that the change in the structure of the foot during pregnancy may be due to the extra weight put on the feet when carrying a child. The change in the size and arch of the foot in response to this weight may contribute to the increased risk of pain and arthritis in the feet, ankles, knees, hips, and other joints following pregnancy.

Segal also explained that the loss of natural arch in the foot, causing the foot to flatten, could potentially stretch and damage the ligaments running along the sole of the foot, which can lead to knee strain and changes in gait.

Is there anything that can be done to prevent long-term changes in the feet and avoid pain?

The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) provide several tips and strategies for expectant mothers hoping to minimize the effect of pregnancy on their feet.

Moms-to-be can avoid or minimize foot and ankle swelling by taking off shoes and elevating feet whenever possible.

pregnant women with feet up

You should also avoid crossed-leg sitting, especially for long periods of time. In fact, experts suggest pregnant women avoid sitting or standing still in the same position for prolonged periods whenever possible.

Wearing compression socks can prevent or minimize foot and ankle swelling and promote blood circulation by facilitating the flow of blood back to the heart. Additionally, moderate physical activity may also promote health circulation and minimize the build-up of fluids in the feet which causes swelling. Experts caution expectant women that any exercise done should not be exhausting and the mother should attempt to stay cool. Water aerobics can provide pregnant women with the exercise she needs without causing exhausting and high impact on the feet, all while staying cool.

Foot and Ankle Center podiatrist Jane Anderson suggests that pregnant women try to sleep on their sides at night. Sleeping on your side can relieve pressure on the vena cava, which is the largest vein leading to the heart that carries blood from your lower body. She also reminds expectant mothers of the importance of stretching and massages to maximize healthy blood flow and muscle function.

Get support however you can!

Experts encourage pregnant women to consider using orthotics / insoles in their shoes to provide additional arch support and cushion if needed. Custom Orthotics can also be made by a professional for women to that require a more specific foot contour for support.

If an expectant mother is provided with insoles or custom orthotics early into the pregnancy, before her feet are exposed to excessive stress related to carrying her child, damage can not only be prevented, but healed! By taking the pressure off of the internal structure of the feet and arch, insoles / orthotics can allow the foot to return to its previous contour and function over time. Changes in the shape and function of a pregnant woman’s foot can cause the knees to become misaligned, which results in chronic pain. The use of orthotics / insoles can also encourage natural, healthy alignment of the kneecaps as well.

Another often-overlooked source of support is less about construction and more about function. Many experts in health and shoe longevity recommend pregnant women use a shoehorn.

shoehorn

The use of a shoehorn when pregnant will make it much easier to take shoes on and off, which will lead to less stress on the body and the shoe itself. With the change in the center of gravity for pregnant women, using a shoehorn also avoids an unnecessary strain and contortion of the body to maintain the upright position when dealing with shoes. The shoehorn makes it much less of an ordeal, especially in the later stages of pregnancy, remove shoes whenever possible, which further supports the body by allowing you to reduce your foot / ankle swelling.

Let the right shoes be your firm foundation.

While compression socks and shoehorns can go a long way toward increasing your comfort during pregnancy, nothing can take the place of choosing quality shoes to wear! The right shoes for pregnancy should be easy to slip on and off, eliminating the need to bend down and tie the laces or risk falling over laces that have become untied. The shoes should provide adequate support for your changing foot size and shape. Generally speaking, it is advised that pregnancy shoes should be about one size larger than your usual foot size to accommodate foot widening and swelling throughout the pregnancy. The most popular maternity shoes include flats, clogs, sandals, and athletic or running shoes. Each type has its own pros and cons, with the ultimate decision in maternity footwear depending on the mom-to-be’s needs and preferences.

Flats

Flats are a popular shoe choice for expectant women because they are so easy to slip on and off during the day. Flats are also appropriate shoes for most outfits and occasions, so they are often the go-to shoe for ladies. Futhermore, flats also don’t have laces to worry about and are generally made of a comfortable material. Unfortunately, flats provide very little support and cushion for your feet, which means that the added pressure of a pregnancy could make flats less beneficial. If you choose to wear flats when pregnant, you should only wear them for limited periods of time over very forgiving terrain since they lack supportive, protective soles.

Clogs

The decision to wear clogs should made after carefully considering the quality of a particular pair. While some clogs feature contoured arch support, impact-absorbing soles, and a gradual heel-to-toe slant, others feature none of these construction aspects and are more similar to a block of wood with straps. Those clogs are certainly not pregnancy friendly!

In general, quality clogs are appealing to pregnant women because they are easy to slip on and off, are versatile, allow for good ventilation of the foot while still providing some sole protection, and offer different straps / closures. You should determine where you’re going before slipping into a pair of clogs. Clogs are taller than flats, which can be a negative if a pregnant woman is in the later stages of pregnancy and struggling to maintain her balance. Many clogs also feature highly rigid soles that don’t bend with the foot, tapered toe boxes that squash the toes together to stay on the clog, and an unnatural arch contour. Most conventional clog designs don’t allow for the use of insoles / orthotics, so there’s very little you can do to add support.

Sandals

Sandals are the go-to shoe for many women, including those expecting. While sandals offer many advantages, including the ability to quickly and easily slip the shoes on and off, versatility, good ventilation for the foot, relatively good ankle / foot support, and room for the foot and toes. You also don’t have to worry about laces when wearing sandals. Birkenstock Women’s Gizeh Thong Sandal

Because most sandals aren’t constructed with a heel or tall sole, these shoes allow pregnant women to keep their feet close to the ground, avoiding any additional concern about balance. While these shoes don’t offer the warmth or protection from the elements some women might need depending on the season or where they live, there is always the option to wear socks with the sandals for comfort or when staying at home for an evening.

As with any type of shoe, it is important to remember that not every shoe is created equal. Sandals, and their potential benefits, vary greatly depending on the shoe itself with several brands being reliable choices for mothers, including Ecco, Birkenstock, and Chaco.

Athletic Shoes

While not as convenient to put on and take off as clogs, flats, or sandals, athletic shoes offer the most support and protection for your feet by far. Athletic shoes aren’t excessively elevated, allowing a mom-to-be to avoid further complicating her adjusted center of gravity. Running or athletic shoes are your best option when planning to walk for long periods or over difficult terrain.

Because athletic shoes are closed in, you’ll need to consider purchasing a size up to allow for foot widening or swelling. You’ll also want to make sure that your feet don’t become too hot while in the shoe. Good ventilation is crucial for good foot health and the prevention of fungus or blister development.

A good athletic shoe should feature a supportive sole, bend naturally where the foot bends, and have a toe box wide enough to accommodate your toes. It should also have enough grip to keep you safe when navigating difficult walkways or in inclement weather.

Plan your maternity shoe quest.

Before deciding on which shoes are best for you, it is important to plan when you’re going to try on potential footwear. Feet swell naturally throughout the day, more so for moms-to-be, so you should always try on maternity shoes in the late afternoon or evening. You should also make sure to use the same type of socks that you will likely wear with the potential shoes. Obviously this is less of a concern with sandals or most clogs, but the type of sock worn to try on a closed-in shoe can change the entire fit and size needed. Because of the changes in foot size and width experienced during pregnancy, you should also have your foot measured for size determination before assuming that the same size will still be best.

With proper shoes, accessories such as compression socks, and a focus on maintaining your comfort and health, you’ll be able to successfully lay the foundation for a wonderful pregnancy! If you’re not sure which maternity shoes are right for you, experts suggest seeking professional advice from a medical expert and/or a footwear service representative. Experts also remind expectant mothers that all maternity experiences are different and depend greatly on the stage of the pregnancy so continued communication with professionals and consideration of the mother’s needs are crucial.

Maternity Shoes

1. crocs Unisex Classic Clog

crocs Unisex Classic Clog

crocs Unisex Classic Clog

Pros

  • Relatively inexpensive; consistent quality from Crocs
  • Very simple and can be slipped on and off easily
  • Easy to clean; waterproof

Cons

  • Made of synthetic plastic material; not very professional looking
  • May be a bit too wide for some people’s feet
  • Water may leak into the gaping holes on the Crocs on a rainy day

Summary

Putting on shoes can be the last thing you want to do while being pregnant, or after delivering your baby. Thankfully, these shoes come right off and right on easily; no lacing or straining to get these shoes on! Crocs have become famous, and are super comfortable. However, they aren’t the best for wearing in a professional setting and something that Crocs are unfashionable. They are great to have overall and prevent sweating of the feet, but water can seep into the sands from the large holes.

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2. TOMS Women’s Canvas Slip-On

TOMS Women’s Canvas Slip-On

TOMS Women’s Canvas Slip-On

Pros

  • The vision of TOMS is amazing: for each pair of shoes you buy, they give another pair to someone else in need
  • Comfortable padded insole
  • Nearly a hundred different colors and designed; even recycled, eco TOMS

Cons

  • Have to pull on the tab on the back to slip over the heel
  • Very narrow; not for thick, wide feet
  • Can be slightly expensive (but, it is for a good cause!)

Summary

Toms is one of those brands that will never really go out of style. Not only are they a fashionable choice of shoe, but they also are very symbolic and telling about the person. When somebody purchases a pair of TOMS shoes, they donate another pair of shoes to someone in need around the world. As for pregnant soon-to-be moms, these shoes are great to have, though they are not as easy as other shoes to get on because you need to pull the back tabs around the ankle. Again, they may be a little bit too expensive compared to the quality, but it’s for a great cause.

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3. Skechers Performance Women’s Go Flex Slip-On Walking Shoe

Skechers Performance Women’s Go Flex Slip-On Walking Shoe

Skechers Performance Women’s Go Flex Slip-On Walking Shoe

Pros

  • Variety of colors and textures; unique heather tones
  • Insole that reflects the force of standing and walking on it; ultra comfortable
  • Easily slips on and off

Cons

  • If your shoe doesn’t fit the design perfect, heel rubs
  • Some say there is too much toe space; runs slightly long
  • Slightly narrow for the average person’s foot

Summary

Using these skechers slip on sneakers will make you feel like you are walking on almost nothing – as if you are floating above the ground. These shoes are specifically designed for walking and gym usage. For the moms out there, you can rest assured knowing these shoes will be comfortable and light, while also being easy to slip off and on without laces. Be careful when ordering these shoes, however, has there have been some reports that they back fo the shes can slide and rub against the heel. But, the general consensus is that these shoes make a great pair of maternity shoes.

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4. Birkenstock Women’s Gizeh Thong Sandal

 

Birkenstock Women’s Gizeh Thong Sandal

Birkenstock Women’s Gizeh Thong Sandal

Pros

  • Buckle trap over foot for extra security
  • Natural cork insole
  • Contoured for increase comfort and more naturally accommodates foot

Cons

  • For sandals, are quite expensive
  • May slip off too easily
  • The insoles wears down easily and gets discolored

Summary

If you are a mom or mom-to-be looking for a nice, summer shoe you can slip easily on your foot, this is it. This shoe is ergonomically designed and has an arch in the cork so that it can accommodate most everyone’s feet. The sole is made of a natural cork material and is incredibly careful, although it can wear down and become discolored over time. These shoes are a bit on the expensive side, nearing $100, but they are high quality and should last you a long time.

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5. Aerosoles Women’s Super Soft Slip-On Loafer

Aerosoles Women’s Super Soft Slip-On Loafer

Aerosoles Women’s Super Soft Slip-On Loafer

Pros

  • Classic loafer; both formal and casual
  • Decorative tassels
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • May be a bit too small for some feet; order up a half size
  • The toe area is not very roomy and can squish toes
  • Others find the shoes too wide for their feet and have sent them back

Summary

Loafers are classic, and the tasseled leather bits at the front of the shoe makes them much more classy. Now you can dress up and go to formal situations, the office, a business meeting, etc. in style without sacrificing on comfort. These are great maternity shoes for women who are pregnant, and are at an incredible price. Just make sure to get the right size according to your feet, and you should have a pair of comfortable slip-on loafers for a long, long time.

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6. Sanuk Women’s Yoga Sling 2 Flip-Flop

Sanuk Women’s Yoga Sling 2 Flip-Flop

Sanuk Women’s Yoga Sling 2 Flip-Flop

Pros

  • Ultra stylish and trendy; bohemian
  • Comfortable fabric strap rests on top
  • Yoga mat material as the footbed; very comfortable

Cons

  • Foot leaves an impression into the footbed
  • Can be irritating between the toes when first wearing them
  • The U-Rubber sponge outsole may not be the most supportive

Summary

These slip on sandals are for the hip, yoga-loving mom! They are ultra comfortable, and in fact are made of the same material that’s used to make yoga mats. Every step you take is super comfortable. However, after all that walking, it can eventually leave unsightly footprints in the insole, however this is nothing major. The shoe comes in tons of fun designs and colors to try on. There’s something for everyone’s style!

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7. Dexflex women’s claire scrunch flat

Dexflex women’s claire scrunch flat

Dexflex women’s claire scrunch flat

Pros

  • Portable; easy to take with you in case you want to change from heels to flats
  • Ultra lightweight; feels as if you’re barefeet
  • Neutral printed colors as well as other designs

Cons

  • Too thin; may feel uneven surfaces below the feet
  • Not a lot of support on the heals and insole in general
  • No lift if you are looking to appear slightly taller

Summary

These shoes are just a layer of thickness away from being socks. Ultra thin and light, it will feel like you’re walking with nothing on your feet. This has its pros and cons in itself. On one hand they are super light and easy to carry, on the other hand it can be a challenge walking over rocks and pointy options, as it will probably be felt through the outsole. These are recommended for temporary use, or relief from uncomfortable high heels and other shoes, but as everyday shoes they may be hard on your feet and back.

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8. BOBS from Skechers Women’s Bliss Fashion Slip-On Flat

BOBS from Skechers Women’s Bliss Fashion Slip-On Flat

BOBS from Skechers Women’s Bliss Fashion Slip-On Flat

Pros

  • Stylish design, sleek and modern
  • Slip on and off effortlessly
  • Memory foam insole; very comfortable

Cons

  • Inspired by TOMS but without the shoe donation
  • Cheap synthetic material
  • The outsole is made of stiff material, can be uncomfortable

Summary

BOBS by Skechers are quite similar to TOMS, however, they do not donate a pair of shoes to a child in need as TOMS does (at least to my knowledge). However, the shoes are incredibly comfortable with their memory foam lining as well as the process of getting them on. It’s super easy to pop these right off and on your feet. However, some were shocked by how stiff the fabric was, but it will wear down and stiffen once it’s broken in. Overall, BOBS is a great option to buy at an affordable rate (as low as $15 on Amazon!).

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