The Loh Down On Science

Does pregnancy change women's feet?

FIGURE 2. Measurements of arch function. Pedobarograph (top left), foot pressures during walking (bottom left), and center of pressure excursion (black line on the right)."

Segal et al., Am. Jour. of Phys. Med. & Rehab., 2013

Congratulations on your new baby! And your new shoe size? 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

For years women have been complaining that having a baby makes your feet bigger.  Neil Segal from the University of Iowa could find nothing in the medical literature to confirm or deny it.  So he decided to check the "growing" allegation himself.

Segal measured the feet of forty-nine women at the beginning of pregnancy, noting each foot's degree of arch and its size.  He then followed in the women's purportedly expanding footsteps and remeasured five months after delivery.

Segal found that sixty to seventy percent of the women indeed had longer, wider feet once the stork had delivered.  Specifically, their arch rigidity decreased during pregnancy, causing their arches to drop.  This resulted in a corresponding increase in the length of their feet.

The changes seem to occur mostly in first pregnancies and doesn’t usually get worse in later ones.  

In short, to your next baby shower, bring a tiny pair of baby shoes, and a giant pair of clown shoes ... for the mom. Just kidding.

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The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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