It’s no secret that your body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy. Starting in the first trimester, things start to look and feel different. Your breasts get larger, your hips may widen, your hands and feet can swell. And then of course, there’s the belly! But while these sorts of physical changes are to be expected, pregnancy also brings a whole bunch of unexpected changes. Some women may experience things like malasma or other skin changes. Other women may notice that their eyesight or sense of smell is different. And plenty of women experience a really odd side effect: larger feet! The question is, do your feet get bigger during pregnancy? You may be surprised by the answer.

So, do your feet get bigger during pregnancy? Yes! It’s not just your imagination!

Firstly, your feet will swell (it’s almost unavoidable). This swelling is due to pregnancy weight gain and swelling from the extra fluid that your body retains during pregnancy. The good news is, these are temporary, and you can actually manage them fairly well throughout your pregnancy. Ease your swelling by keeping your feet elevated, soaking them in cool water, and drinking plenty of fluids.

PREVIOUSLY: Having Children Can Actually Change Your Immune System

But there’s another reason your feet get bigger during pregnancy, too.

When you’re pregnant, your body produces a pregnancy hormone called relaxin. This hormone loosens the joints around your pelvis, so eventually baby can make its way down the birth canal. However, relaxin also loosens the ligaments in your feet, causing the foot bones to spread. Technically, your feet aren’t actually growing, the bones are just moving because those tight ligaments aren’t holding them together anymore. Such an odd pregnancy side effect, right?

PREVIOUSLY: Well This is Strange: New Moms Voices Get Lower After Pregnancy

Swelling in your feet can start as early as the second trimester, and will continue through the end of your pregnancy. You may notice your shoes are a little tighter, even if your feet aren’t noticeably swollen. That’s the bones changing position!

And now for the bad news…

While swelling caused by pregnancy weight gain and fluid retention will subside shortly after you give birth, the changes to your foot size caused by loosening ligaments is actually permanent. Those ligaments don’t just snap back into place after the baby is born. This change can bump you up a half or whole shoe size, believe it or not!

It’s not just an old wives’ tale. Do your feet get bigger during pregnancy? Yes! So hold off on buying yourself cute new shoes until after the baby was born. You very well may need a bigger size.

(Image: iStock / TanawatPontchour)