October 5, 2016

Heels during pregnancy – myths and truths

Maybe you’ve noticed that some pregnant women (especially during their last weeks of pregnancy) walk differently compared to before becoming pregnant. Their walk seems heavier and they are not as stable as they used to, even when walking barefoot around the house.

The reason is simple. Because of the added kilos and the way they are positioned around the body, pregnant women’s center of gravity is shifted. The ligaments are under increased pressure which makes their stability also become affected and the chances for a fall becoming several times higher than usual.

So, to wear or not to wear heels during pregnancy? This is the question!

In theory, there is no pregnant woman especially-designed type of shoe. There is no such concept, one that can be officially set aside from all the other styles of shoes. But this doesn’t mean it shouldn’t get invented…

Fashion has, nonetheless, always found a keen ally in orthopedics.
Salvatore Ferragamo, for instance, had studied anatomy in California precisely because he wanted to create ’’pain-free’’ shoes. (By) The 1930s he had engineered the wedge sole and among his faithful clientele he counted leading ladies of the era, such as Eva Peron or Marilyn Monroe. It was a tremendous success especially because it had been the first time someone had thought about scientifically, and not merely empirically, analyzing the bone and muscle structure of the foot, the tilting of the vertical axis and the placing of the weight of a proportional manner that doesn’t exert pressure on the sole nor on the spine.

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Photo taken at the beginning of the 7th month of pregnancy.

An adequate pair of shoes can diminish the discomfort and pain coming from the added pressure on the knees and ankles. As every pregnancy evolves very differently, and the newly-gained weight can imply a few or dozens of extra kilos, the heels controversy is relative. Each and every new mom will know (best) to adjust her shoes to her best comfort. As far as I am concerned, up to the 8th month I’ve been wearing high heels, with straps or laces, but only when attending events and for no longer than an hour. Even if I could easily go beyond this self-imposed limit, I decided to stop before beginning to feel tired or tension building up in my joints. The rest of the time I’ve been wearing ballet flats and moccasins.

At a closer look, the ideal shoes for a pregnant woman should meet 3 major criteria:

1) to be easily put on – without having to bend over or use your hands. In this case, the best type is that of the slip on shoes.

Up to mid-pregnancy shoes can have all sorts of laces, buckles, zippers, but during the second period of the 9 months the belly is going to be protruding enough as to make reaching for your feet really difficult. To avoid this inconvenience, choose slip on shoes. Ballerina shoes, loafers (Venetian style moccasins, not laced up Oxford shoes). Also, mules – that type of shoe covering the toes and cut out at the back made popular by Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s -, sabot shoes and slippers so in this year can make for highly stylish options…

To be absolutely avoided are laced, gladiator type shoes and straps shoes like Mary Janes and, most of all, slingbacks which don’t provide enough support and stability to the heel.

You can’t quite put your finger on how all of these specifically-named shoes look? Don’t worry! In my new book all of these styles of shoes are going to be thoroughly explained and illustrated. 🙂 Stay tuned! Soon, online and in bookstores!

2) to have a cut that supports the ankles found under increasing pressure from an increasing weight. For overworked ankles not to give way under the new weight we need to provide them with extra support.

During this time, the height of the heels needs to decrease as the size of the belly goes up. The bigger the belly, the lower the heels. You don’t have to give them up completely, just dose your wearing. Kitten heels, those 3 to 5 cm heels, strike the perfect compromise between fashion and comfort.
A thicker heel, even if slightly higher, will be able to support the ever growing number of kilos. The farther along the pregnancy, the weight is going to mount an increased pressure on the ankles. As I’ve said it before, even barefoot, during the last weeks of the pregnancy, balance is not a pregnant woman’s strong point. That’s precisely why a bulkier heel not higher (let’s be generous) than a medium height heel, shouldn’t be a problem if worn for short periods of time, as set by each woman for herself. I, for instance, don’t wear heels (even if I could) for longer than an hour, regardless of their height.

3) to allow some extra space for possibly swollen ankles. Some pregnant women suffer from edema – lower limbs water retention. For others, what increases is their very shoe size, with a number, even two.

Consequently, most pregnant women are going to feel their formerly favourite shoes like anacondas around their feet ready to stop their blood flow.

What is there to be done? Knowing about this, look ahead and put your favourite shoes on the top shelf – that one you can’t reach. You are going to stretch them out for sure and when scaling back down to your usual size you are going to see you can no longer wear them.
On the other hand, buy yourselves two-three affordable pairs that you can rotate. There’s no point in buying big fashion house shoes, since after the pregnancy you are only going to be able to give them away. But if you feel you need to make someone happy… 🙂 A friend… Go ahead!

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Photo taken at the beginning of the 7th month of pregnancy.

And one more thing! You also have to factor in the choosing of a pointed toe that is going to optically enhance your leg, as opposite to a rounded toe shoe that widens the foot and shortens the leg, nothing we strive for during this likely swollen feet times.

In some countries, private companies provide their pregnant employees with 2 000 dollar vouchers in order to buy pregnancy wear. No, we don’t necessarily have to move, but we’d better act smartly and the strategy of buying two-three affordably-priced shoes we can wear alternatively seems the most rational.

And not to come to an abrupt end, I’m also going to tell you that statistics show that an average wage US woman spends up to the equivalent of EUR 5 000 in maternity clothes by the end of the pregnancy. The equivalent of a second hand car. Interesting, isn’t it?

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