How come my feet have grown after I’ve had a baby?

Mar 19, 2014

Why, after being a size 4 all of my adult life do I now have to buy size 5 shoes?!

All pregnant women expect to get bigger with pregnancy, but it’s not just your bump that can grow! Research has found that Relaxin, the hormone responsible for relaxing the joints, ligaments and muscles surrounding the pelvis and low back in preparation for child birth, will also act on other ligaments in the body.

A study at the University of Iowa found that on average during pregnancy, arch height decreased by between 1-5mm and foot length increased by 2-10mm, with these changes remaining at 19 weeks post-delivery.

During pregnancy, as your feet take the load of your increasing body weight (plus a growing bump), combined with gravity and the effects of your hormones, can cause your feet to ‘grow’ in size, either in length or width. Many women find they will need to wear a larger shoe size during their pregnancy to accommodate their larger feet. This is often due to water retention and swelling in the feet and legs, causing them to look and feel bigger than they are!

Most women will find that once they have had their baby as the relaxin levels in their body lower, their feet will return to their ‘normal’ pre-pregnancy size. However, in some cases there can be a permanent increase in shoe size. This can be due to a variety of factors – number of pregnancies, hyper-mobility (natural flexibility) of the foot and weight gain.

This permanent change in foot size is more common than we think! The permanent change is caused by the plantar ligaments that support the longitudinal arch of the foot becoming stretched and permanently lengthened. This in turn leads to flattened or collapsed arches, which can potentially lead to foot, ankle, knee and hip pain over time.


The actress, Denise van Outen, mentioned after the birth of her daughter a few years ago, that her feet grew from a size five to six while she was pregnant, and have stayed that size since – she had to give away most of her designer shoes as they no longer fitted!

If you have noticed that your feet have permanently increased in size after you’ve had your baby, with your middle arch starting to flatten out, goPhysio could help. With our GaitScan system, we can assess your new foot position and if it would help you, provide you with a pair of custom made orthotics which will help support the arches of your foot and relieve the pressure on other structures higher up in your leg. In the future this will help prevent long-term adaptations being made by your body which can result in other problems, such as back, pelvic & hip pain. As a new Mum, with little time to rest, you’ll certainly be on your feet a lot more and this isn’t likely to change for many years to come. Looking after your body and being pro-active in preventing issues is key. If you’ve already noticed aches & pains, custom made orthotics will help reduce these.

If you have any questions about how we can help with foot pain during pregnancy, pop in to see us or give us a call!

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