It seems nowadays that seeing celebrities walking around the street in sky-high heels while pregnant is the latest trend to hit the streets. Who hasn’t seen Jessica Simpson, Victoria Beckham or Kourtney Kardashian strut around town in their sky-high heels weeks before delivery? But that’s not reasonable or recommended for the average expecting fashionista.
Beckham learned the hard way what happens when celebrities are unwilling to sacrifice fashion for pregnancy. The former Posh Spice, who has been known to tool around town in five-inch stilettos, wore high heels even in the late stages of her pregnancy — but not without cost. Beckham, who gave birth to her fourth child in July, has been seen sporting — gasp — flats around town instead of her usual towering heels after she reportedly suffered a slipped disc. It’s presumed that her heels are to blame and that she is now under doctor’s orders to wear flat shoes.
Simpson even proclaimed that she would be giving birth in her favorite Yves Saint Laurent heels, but later in her pregnancy had to give them up because she couldn’t do it anymore, joking on Jay Leno that “it’s a lot of weight to carry on six inches.”
If other stars have taken note of Beckham’s or Simpson’s predicament, they certainly haven’t been letting on. As recently as a few weeks ago, stars like Alyson Hannigan almost fell while she was getting out of her car in NYC, then it happened to Kourtney Kardashian while walking in New York City.
Fortunately for both of the ladies, their entourage was there to catch them before they took a nasty fall. But what kind of example is this setting for women who look to celebrities for fashion trends and styling tips?
Tabloids tell us that the rich and famous are “just like us,” running errands and picking up their kids from school, but while they saunter around town in heels right off the runway, how can we believe them? I certainly don’t whip out my favorite pair of Prada pumps to pick up milk and eggs from the store. Nor have I envisioned comfortably running after my kids on the playground in Jimmy Choos, at least not while awake.
These unrealistic fashion standards set for expecting moms are just as detrimental as most fashion advertisements are to a young girl’s self-esteem. Stilettos have become statements; a bold banner for femininity and womanhood. But unbeknownst to us mere mortals that flip through the style sections, these glowing stars are experiencing the consequences from their stunning heels.
Stilettos for pregnant women are not inherently dangerous, according to doctors. But when a woman’s weight and shape changes during pregnancy, so does her center of gravity. Because of this, she may be more prone to falls, which could have dire consequences.
Most pregnant women also tend to have an arched back posture to accommodate their expanding bellies, often leading to lower back pain. Wearing high-heeled shoes and boots can exacerbate those problems, especially as feet start to swell in the later months.
But women don’t have to give up their high-heeled, high-fashion tastes just because they’re expecting. Some women, especially those who work in the corporate world, do go out of their way to work within their existing wardrobe and not change their basic look or usual fashion sense for as long as possible.
Most obstetricians recommend that patients wear flat shoes or shoes with less than a two-and-a-half inch heel, especially in the third trimester. As pregnancy progresses, among other things, the extra weight puts a strain on your arches, causing many women to go up a half to full size larger during and after pregnancy.
I recommend to my customers, who can’t imagine surrendering style to a baby bump, to look for a wider 2 1/2 inch heel vs. a thin stiletto, because this will give you more stability when walking. I also recommend sticking to a more supportive shoe that offers arch support on a daily basis. Here are some things to look for in a shoe when you’re expecting so you can continue to be your fabulous and fashionable self.
• Shock absorption: Pregnancy weight gain puts extra strain on your feet. Look for shoes that offer extra cushioning or memory foam to minimize the impact of walking.
• Arch support: Pregnancy can cause painful arches. Look for shoes with solid arch. This will keep you properly aligned while also preventing your feet from flattening or rolling inward.
• Breathability: Pregnant feet will sweat, probably more than usual. Look for shoes made out of natural leather or breathable liners to prevent blisters and regulate your foot temperature.
• Length expansion: Pregnant feet can lengthen, often up to a full size. Look for a shoe that offers some kind of customized fit, either with removable in-soles or length expanding technology. Avoid the temptation of just buying a shoe a size up since improper fitting shoes can cause you to slip and fall.
• Width expansion: Feet will swell. Look for a wider-width shoe or one that has some sort of stretch release in the toe box to safely accommodate foot swelling while avoiding the pain of too tight shoes.
• Proper fit toe box: Excess stress from tight-fitting shoes during pregnancy can cause permanent foot damage and prevent circulation. Look for shoes that provide you with just the right amount of wiggle room in the toe area.
The trend to wear Christian Louboutins to the birthing table might not be such a good idea after all, not even for the bravest of us. You look cute temporarily, but you might end up regretting your decision later. By looking for the right features in a heel that still meets your design aesthetic, you can still have a fashionable and healthy pregnancy your feet and back won’t hate you for.
Claudia Espinola is a shoe designer and self-proclaimed “cobblette,” having studied shoe design and construction in Milan, Italy prior to founding her company Casa Couture, Inc., a footwear company that meets the needs of expecting moms in their quest to find a fashionable shoe they can wear through their pregnancy and beyond.