The Best Shoes for Pregnant Women Dealing with Swollen Feet


Podiatrist Andrew Wilson, DPM, who sees patients at Mercy Personal Physicians at Lutherville, responded to questions from concerning the best types of shoe wear for women dealing with swollen feet during pregnancy. Here are Dr. Wilson’s insights:

We all know that pregnancy brings multiple changes to the body, but you may be surprised to hear how it affects the feet. Often swelling in the feet is not significantly increased until the 2nd trimester. During this time the change in hormones results in an approximately 50% increase in your blood volume, which understandably increases leg swelling. The farther along you get in your pregnancy, the accumulation of weight gained will place an increasing amount of stress on the feet. We must consider that the change in hormones also increases the laxity of ligaments throughout the body. This can actually increase the size of the feet by around a half a size and is not always reversible.

To prevent foot pain, the most important step happens prior to deciding which shoes you will wear. As a result of gravity, the more you are on your feet, the more the fluid drains downward. With the increase in blood volume this puts a significant amount of pressure on them. To prevent this abnormal distribution it is recommended to wear compression stockings daily. This can keep the feet from swelling to a size that makes them uncomfortable in your shoes. I recommend putting on the compression stockings first thing in the morning, as this is the least swollen your feet will be all day. Also consider limiting the time you spend on your feet, and elevate them as much as possible. Taking walks also helps. As you walk, the muscles contract and force the blood back up to the heart and the one-way valves in the veins prevent it from returning to the feet.

When purchasing the shoes you’ll wear throughout your pregnancy, there are a few things to consider. Look for shoes that will give you a little extra room. You may consider getting a shoe a half to a whole size larger. Do not choose shoes that are constructed with rigid materials or have straps that are not adjustable. This may cause cutting off circulation if your feet swell. Tennis shoes are the best shoes to wear during pregnancy and I often recommend Brooks and Hoka shoes to my patients. Both have a larger toe box, mesh top covering and increased cushioning which are well suited for foot swelling.

As your pregnancy progresses, it will be harder to bend over and tie your shoes.  Consider a good pair of slip-on tennis shoes like Vionic Nalia. Also, Crocs a good option as they are affordable, flexible, easy to clean and easy to slip-on.

I recommend staying away from high heels and uncomfortable dress shoes. However, if the occasion requires it I recommend that you consider Vionics or Danskos as they have multiple options that keep the foot in a good biomechanics position.

Another thing to remember is to avoid walking barefoot as this might increase foot pain as weight gain increases the stress on the foot. If you don’t have a good pair of house shoes, I recommend Oofos or Hoka recovery sandals. Your foot will appreciate the extra cushioning.

As comfort is key, also consider Uggs and Birkenstocks. Birkenstocks will be especially comfortable if they have molded to your feet. However, consider that as the ligaments loosen your foot might actually change in size, though the over-all weight distribution should not change much. If you are pregnant in the colder months consider Uggs. They should have plenty of room for swelling, are comfortable and can easily be slipped on and off.

Remember comfortable footwear is an important part of maintaining good foot health, especially throughout pregnancy. Choosing the right shoe can help reduce discomfort and pain during this special time of your life.