6 Risks Of Wearing Heels During Pregnancy

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High heels are an essential component of the style statement for many women. However, wearing heels during pregnancy may not be a good idea. Doctors strictly do not advise it for several scientific reasons. Your body weight and balance do not remain the same as pregnancy advances, and even muscles and ligaments undergo certain changes (1). As a result, wearing heels may add to the discomfort of pains and cramps and come with certain other risks. Read this post as we talk about the effects of wearing heels on pregnant women and share some safety tips.

Effects of Wearing Heels During Pregnancy

Let’s check out:

1. Calf cramps

When you wear heels for a long time, your calf muscles are in a contracted position. This leads to cramps in the muscles, which may be aggravated during pregnancy (2).

2. Back pain

High heels are supposed to alter your posture. Your pelvic muscles are bent forward, giving a rounder shape to your back.

  • You will gain a considerable amount of weight around the front during pregnancy and this change in posture will cause pain.
  • The ligaments in lower back and legs are loosened during pregnancy. Wearing heels puts excess pressure on the pelvic and back joints, since the support is not proper. This results in aches around joints and ligaments of lower back and pelvic area (3).

3. Less balance

The strength in your ankles is likely to reduce due to excess weight and hormonal changes in the body.

  • This is a common reason that will lead to lower balancing capacity.
  • When you are wearing heels, there will be a higher probability of losing balance and tripping over, causing injury to you and your unborn child (4).

4. Stretched muscles

Just like your back and abdomen, the ligaments in the ankles and calf also loosen due to pregnancy-induced hormones.

  • This leads to stretching of muscles in the feet.
  • The shoes that you could comfortably wear pre-pregnancy will now become tight and painful (5).

5. Swelling in feet

A medical condition known as edema or swelling in legs, ankles and feet is quite common during pregnancy.

  • Wearing tight shoes and high heels or platform heels will further aggravate the problem.
  • Wearing high heels especially in the late pregnancy can cause swollen feet.
  • More fluid will be accumulated in the lower part of your body and along with swollen feet, you might also experience pain (6).

6. Miscarriage

A pregnant woman wearing high heels is always at a higher risk of sustaining falls/trauma which can result in having a miscarriage (7).

Tips To Wear High Heels In Pregnancy

Wearing heels during pregnancy is not at all advisable, as it can lead to serious harm to both you and your unborn baby. However, if you absolutely must, then keep the following tips in mind:

  • It is okay to wear low heels in your first trimester, after which the hormonal flow increases and your muscles start to stretch.
  • Try to wear lower and sturdier heels.
  • Buy shoes that are comfortable and don’t create a tight grip on your feet.
  • Avoid stilettos, platform heels or kitten heels. The thinner the heels, the less support your body will get, making it all the more difficult to maintain balance.
  • If you have to wear heels during the entire day, try to take short breaks. Take them off for a while, relax your feet and then put them on again. Wearing wedge heels during pregnancy is not a good idea because there will be an increase in body weight, shape and center of gravity changes affecting your walking. Also, ligaments will be looser which may lead to muscle strain and joint instability.
  • At parties or outings, avoid walking or standing for longer durations in high heels. If you have to wear them to get the perfect look, try to sit around most of the time.
  • Replace your heels with flats for everyday purposes.
  • If you have worn heels and are experiencing discomfort, try stretching exercises for calf muscles and gently massage your feet

Most women consider high heels a stylish must-have, yet wearing heels while pregnant is not advised. High heels may inhibit normal walking motion and reduce blood flow to the extremities, despite the lack of scientific evidence linking them to varicose veins during pregnancy. Wearing heels for an extended period can strain muscles and ligaments, adding to the common cramping and aches during pregnancy. They may also increase your chance of a miscarriage due to trauma by contributing to unintentional trips and falls. High heels should be substituted with lower, more supportive heels or avoided altogether during pregnancy to avoid complications.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When to stop wearing heels during pregnancy?

It is best to wear low and sturdy heels during and after the first trimester of pregnancy. High heels are not recommended past the first trimester. Your feet undergo structural changes right from the first trimester due to the loosening of joints and ligaments. Additionally, the weight borne by the joints gradually increases with increasing body weight. All these factors may contribute to musculoskeletal pain if the feet are not properly supported (8) (9).

2. How much heel is safe during pregnancy?

A low heel, not more than three centimeters (one inch), is considered safe for pregnant women (9).

3. Can you wear heels when nine months pregnant?

It is not recommended to wear heels when nine months pregnant.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Pregnancy stages and changes.
    https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/pregnancy-stages-and-changes
  2. Ouch! How heals can shrink leg muscle cause pain.
    https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2010/07/16/high_heels_and_pain/
  3. Aches and pains during pregnancy.
    https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000580.htm
  4. Kaname Takeda et al.; (2015); Changes in balance strategy in the third trimester.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4499990/
  5. Body changes and discomforts.
    https://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/youre-pregnant-now-what/body-changes-and-discomforts
  6. Swollen ankles feet and fingers in pregnancy.
    https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/related-conditions/common-symptoms/swollen-ankles-feet-and-fingers/
  7. Bulent Cakmak et al.; 2015; Postural balance and the risk of falling during pregnancy.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26212584/
  8. Neil A. Segal et al.; (2014); Pregnancy Leads to Lasting Changes in Foot Structure
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3596423/
  9. EL-Gharib, Mohamed & Albehoty, Sherin; (2018); High-heeled Shoes in Pregnancy.
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324695214_High-heeled_Shoes_in_Pregnancy
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Sadiya Qamar

Sadiya is a writer and editor with a passion for writing about parenthood and children. Her focus areas are health, wellness, and beauty. For MomJunction, she writes on kids’ health and nutrition.  Sadiya believes in doing in-depth research and providing accurate information to help parents with concerns on their children’s growth and development.

Dr. Ng Kai Lyn

(MMed (O&G), MRCOG)
Dr. Ng Kai Lyn is a Singapore-based obstetrician and gynecologist, specializing in urogynecology, minimally invasive surgery, and clinical interest in fertility. She has vast experience managing and treating benign gynecological conditions, including uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, endometrial polyps, and endometriosis. She is also fellowship trained in urogynecology. She manages pelvic organ prolapse, pelvic floor reconstructive surgery, overactive bladder, urinary incontinence,... more