It is not completely uncommon to see pregnant women walking in high heels. Some may consider high heel wearing as a feat during pregnancy, some may appreciate ones fashion statement, and others may think this is completely absurd and dangerous.
But, are high heels even safe to wear while pregnant?
The main concern with wearing high heels while pregnant is the risk of falling and injuring the mother and/or the unborn baby. Heel-associated falls are a real risk when not pregnant, so the risk exists with pregnancy.
Specific high heel related injuries are primarily focused around the foot and ankle. Missteps may cause the foot to twist underneath the leg resulting in foot and ankle sprains/fractures. One may fully lose balance and fall, suffering more global injuries involving the upper extremities as one may try to brace for impact with outstretched arms. Hitting ones head is a possibility. And, in the case of being pregnant, falling in general can have an impact.
How walking in high heels while pregnant is different? Pregnancy adds weight and this increase may cause balance difficulties. Pregnancy also shifts ones center of gravity forward (in front of you). High heels also shift the center of gravity forward. Therefore, combining heels and pregnancy creates a frontward force that may make one more prone to falls.
The higher the heel and skinnier the stiletto, then the more likely one is for a fall. Long-time high heel wearers may be less prone to missteps as they may be specifically coordinated for heel walking. Uneven terrain clearly plays a role in stability while walking in heels. People with a history of high heel mishaps may be susceptible to falling.
As a reconstructive foot surgeon, I can tell you that injuries do occur from missteps and falling when wearing high heels. Most commonly, these injuries are minor with simple treatments. More severe injuries can be involved. Broken bones may need casting and/or surgery. Cast immobilization during pregnancy may place the mother at increased risk for extremity blood clots. Broken bones that are indicated for surgery may be postponed until a later date to avoid surgery on a pregnant mother - all important decisions for appropriate health care professionals and the patient.
What is the real 'risk' of having a significant health problem (for mother and/or baby) due to a high heel associated falling event while pregnant? This question cannot be answered with any particular data, and is most likely because this occurrence seems to be extremely small. But, the risk of falling with or without injury indeed exists and pregnant women should consider this before donning a pair of high heels.
Do you think wearing high heels during pregnancy is safe?
~ Dr. Neal M. Blitz
To learn more about Dr. Blitz, please visit www.nealblitz.com
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