Pregnancy, children and the feet

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Children and pregnant women all go through changes in their feet. What should be done to have healthy feet?

Health and development are high-priority concerns for both expectant mothers and young children, but the health and development of feet are commonly ignored or poorly understood.  Being aware of feet ailments common to mothers and children can facilitate timely and effective prevention and in effect, healthy feet.

Feet pain during pregnancy

Hormonal changes during pregnancy dramatically affect a woman’s physiology, including making the body’s ligaments more pliable.  This has drawbacks such as changing the woman’s posture, but also significantly strains the feet -the main weightbearing platforms- as the woman gains weight.  This can be especially true for Singaporean mothers, who are on the go and working full-time during their pregnancy.

Women often complain of new foot problems arising during pregnancy.  These should not be regarded as temporary “pregnancy pains” which would sort itself out after childbirth.  If they are not medically addressed and are allowed to continue, acquired foot deformities such as fallen arches and bunions can persist for life, and even get worse if they continue to be ignored.

Normal baby feet

Infant and baby feet are soft little paddles.  This is normal; baby feet are comprised mostly of elastic cartilage rather than hard bones.  A quick rule-of-thumb is that your baby’s feet should be flexible and flat, as well as “straight”.  If the baby’s feet feels rigid at certain areas, or has a bony prominence, or appears curved, then there may be a deformity.

healthy feet

A suspected deformity should be medically examined as quickly as possible.  The younger the patient, the easier and more effective the corrective treatment.  Conversely, if such early signs are ignored the deformity will persist for life.

Walking and running with growing feet

Ignored foot problems can directly impact a child’s proper development and fitness.  As the point of contact between the ground and the skeleton’s closed kinetic chain, misaligned foot structure can give rise to poor posture, poor performance in sports and play, and misshapen bones becoming more deformed as they grow and solidify.  This in turn can lead to low self-esteem, dislike for physical activities and team sports, and a sedentary lifestyle leading to poor fitness in adult life.

A child will never be able to verbalize to a parent about this, especially since this can be a developmental problem spanning years of growth.  It is up to the alert parent to be cognisant of the feng shui of the body – a single disharmonious element impacting one’s entire life in subtle ways.

In summary, both expectant mothers and young children may experience adverse changes in their foot structure, as both are periods in life undergoing great physiologic change.  The earlier such problems are caught and treated, the better the treatment outcome.  Medical specialists who deal with bones and joints are the most experienced in addressing these foot problems, such as orthopaedic doctors and podiatrists.

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