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Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome & Pregnancy — What You Need to Know About Your Feet

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Pregnancy is one of the most significant life changes a woman can have. The expectant mother's life isn't the only thing that changes, her body changes as well, some of which are attributed to her body's production of a hormone called relaxin. Relaxin prepares the reproductive system and relaxes the ligaments in the pelvis as well as throughout her body, including in her feet.

However, expectant mothers who have a connective tissue disorder called hypermobility type Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) are even more prone to experiencing problems with their feet. If you are an expectant mother who has been diagnosed with EDS, here's what you need to know. 

What Is Hypermobility Type Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?

Ehlers-Danlos is a disorder of the connective tissue. It is genetic and results in the body's production of ineffective collagen, a protein that gives structure to various cells in the body, particularly connective tissue.

How Do Relaxed Ligaments Affect a Pregnant Woman's Feet?

A ligament is a short band of connective tissue that connects cartilages or bones. This connective tissue is normally tough and flexible. During pregnancy, however, ligaments relax and lose their stiffness. Since Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a connective tissue disorder, the affect relaxin has on ligaments is more profound for them. Here are several problems this may cause: 

  • fallen arches
  • overpronation
  • sprains
  • strains
  • plantar fasciitis
  • clawed toes

The reason for this is because when the ligaments are relaxed, the structural supports in the musculoskeletal system are more likely to be overused to compensate. Of course, this is in addition to the effects of the hypermobility aspect of the connective tissue disorder.

What Can a Pregnant Woman With EDS Do? 

There are several things a pregnant woman with EDS can do to mitigate the risks of foot injuries and pain. First, it's extremely important for you to wear sensible footwear that provides you with stability since your feet are overly flexible and your ankles are unstable. You should also wear inserts to cushion your feet and provide arch support. 

Appointments with a podiatrist would be beneficial for you, particularly as you continues through the pregnancy. The podiatrist can assess you and provide you with orthotics or braces, if necessary. You may also benefit from stretching exercises that may relieve the tightening of the muscles and tendons that are overused from compensating for the relaxed ligaments. Your podiatrist can show you how to appropriately and effectively stretch your muscles that are affected.