Q: My shoes are tighter now that I'm pregnant! Is it normal for my feet to grow?

A: All the swelling you experience during pregnancy may make it tough to squeeze your feet into your usual heels or boots. In fact, it's not unusual for an expectant mom to go up a half to a full size in shoes. In addition to fluid retention, the hormone relaxin (released primarily during the third trimester to relax your pelvic ligaments for childbirth) flattens and lengthens foot ligaments, which may mean it's time to buy a larger pair of shoes. Your feet also need extra support and comfort now. Since your center of gravity is constantly shifting as you gain weight, you should wear shoes that actually balance you, and that means it's best to avoid high heels. Choose shoes with a broad-based 1- to 2-inch stacked heel. For a dressy or office shoe, try an Aerosoles-style with a crepe sole for shock absorption. If you're looking for a walking or athletic shoe, buy a running sneaker, which also offers more shock absorption. If width is an issue for you, buy men's shoes in an equivalent size, since they're cut wider. Here are some more shoe-buying tips: - Shop late in the day. Feet tend to swell as the day goes on. - Be sure shoes fit before you leave the store. It's a myth that you can "break them in." - Choose shoes with a square or round toe. Avoid pointy-toed shoes. - Buy boots with room in the calf area, because your calves may swell. Also choose a boot with a side zipper -- they're easier to get on and off than a pull-on style. - Replace worn heels often. Uneven heels can throw you off balance. --Wesley Davidson

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