What's going on: Not for nothing was the term "barefoot and pregnant" coined. "If I take my shoes off after 3 P.M., I can't get them back on again," says Bonnie Scofield of Morrison, Colorado, who keeps a spare pair of extra-large flats at work for such emergencies.
Temporary weight gain and water retention are to blame for some of this increased foot girth, of course, but the old saying about growing a shoe size with every pregnancy may actually be true. That's because when the aptly named hormone relaxin helps open the pelvis in preparation for birth, it also loosens up other parts of the body. "When the ligaments in the feet stretch out, the bones there aren't held together as tightly, and the foot spreads," says Carol Frey, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon in Manhattan Beach, California. You may be stuck with those pudgy piggies, too: More than half the women in one study reported permanent foot growth of up to a whole size after pregnancy.
What to do about it: To ease swelling, treat your tootsies to cool foot baths and prop up your feet as often as you can. If that doesn't do the trick, stock up on a few pairs of comfortable, versatile shoes a half or whole size bigger than normal -- and learn to love living large.
Leah Hennen is a contributing editor to BabyTalk.