Barefoot Shoes for a Healthy Pregnancy and Postpartum - Kim Wheaton
The way we carry our bodies is important in every season, but especially for those of us in our childbearing years. Growing a tiny human puts extra strain on our bodies in many different ways. The added weight of a growing belly plus all those juicy hormones making our joints feel lax demands that we take extra care to support our bodies.
(And no, this doesn’t mean cushioned and “supportive” shoes - it means strong and capable feet!)
Not just during pregnancy, but we should also be mindful of our alignment in our postpartum time. Within the first couple of months after having a baby, our bodies are in recovery mode, and need to be taken care of with extra tenderness and consideration. And for as long as we’re breastfeeding, those hormones are still in our system making everything all loosey goosey!
If you’re a mother, you know that as important as it is, it can feel really hard to find time for self care. That’s why I love encouraging new and expecting mamas to spend as much time barefoot as possible. Going barefoot or wearing barefoot shoes takes literally zero extra effort, but brings so much reward.
During pregnancy, it’s important to maintain proper alignment: hips over heels, ribs over hips, and head over ribs. Wearing shoes with any sort of heel lift will without a doubt impede your ability to walk and stand properly.
Proper alignment is important because there are already so many other factors working to throw you off balance! Many pregnant women struggle with a forward tilt of their pelvis as a result of their growing bellies. Back pain is common. But making sure that you’re properly stacked with a neutral pelvis will go a long way in reducing discomfort and preparing your pelvis for a smooth and straightforward birth.
And did you know that your feet are directly connected to your pelvis via a system of connective tissue called fascia? Also, the muscles in your pelvic floor originate in your feet! By wearing barefoot shoes, you’re giving your feet and your pelvic floor opportunities every day to become stronger and more supple.
Healthy feet = healthy pelvic floor = healthy and happy mama.
Try this: Stand up and hinge into a forward fold (you can take your feet wider than hip distance if your belly needs the space!). Take note of where your fingertips touch your shins or the ground. Now, take a lacrosse or large bouncy ball and place it under your unshod foot, rolling it around and applying pressure as it feels good. Spend a few minutes massaging each foot with your ball, then stand up and bend into a forward fold again… Notice how much farther you get after releasing the fascia on the bottom of your feet!
This release extends all the way up your chain, and is a powerful example of how much your feet really do affect the rest of your body, especially your pelvis. If you’re expecting a baby, I encourage you to do this release daily. It’ll help keep your pelvis mobile and ready for birth.
(It’s important to note that, if you’re not accustomed to living a barefoot lifestyle, you should take care to listen to your body as you transition. Especially if you’re expecting and your joints are already looser than usual, it may take time to build up the strength for going barefoot full time.)
If you are postpartum and working to recover from a core or pelvic floor injury, such as diastasis, prolapse, or incontinence, wearing barefoot shoes (like PaperKrane!) and working on your foot strength is an incredibly powerful piece of the puzzle. It’s also low hanging fruit in terms of time and energy commitment. (Restore Your Core is a phenomenal program that I’ve personally used and recommend to all my clients.) Your body is amazing, and it was designed for strength and healing.
If you’re in the season of having babies, it’s critical that you take good care of your body. Wearing barefoot shoes and working on improving your foot health is a simple choice with a huge number of benefits. You can’t afford not to!
Kim W. is a birth doula, pre and postnatal corrective exercise specialist, prenatal yoga instructor, and creator of yourbarefootguide.com.