"I am wearing heels -- the highest heels," admitted Leslie Zemeckis, a California model, actress and wife of producer/director Robert Zemeckis. "I love heels, and they're still comfortable. I was buying shoes -- spiked but not flimsy, very sturdy -- and was getting the funniest looks from other women," she laughs.
She's not alone. "I still wear heels, and people tell me all the time, 'You shouldn't wear heels,'" said Los Angeles actress/model Mandie Brady in her seventh month of pregnancy. "I like platform shoes, but I trip more barefoot. So far, knock on wood, I've been okay." Even very pregnant Oscar winner Catherine Zeta Jones donned spiked heels for the award ceremonies she attended while expecting. Chicago maternity style maven Jennifer Strom Simonte of Belly Dance also has hopped on the bandwagon, proving that not only left-coasters like to get high on life. "Many people say 'no heels when pregnant,' but we ignore that rule. There is nothing better than a fabulous pair of pointy heels to dress up an outfit and make you feel sexy," she says. "Also, heels help lengthen the leg, so they always make people feel better about themselves."
So what's the problem with heels, anyhow? Is it part of the same old anti-fashion conspiracy that said pregnant women had to wear tacky pastel floral prints on shirts that look eight sizes too big? Alas, no. "Since the entire center of gravity changes as the baby grows, it's best to minimize the heel to one-half to one inch at most," says Patti Glick, R.N., also known as the Foot Nurse [www.footnurse.com] because of her expertise in that area. "Also, for improved stability, a wider-based heel is preferable," she says. And for the final blow, Glick adds, "I am not in favor of platform shoes at all -- pregnant or not." The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) agrees that high heels -- which they define as pumps with heels of more than two inches -- are not the best footwear choice for anyone. Calling them "biomechanically and orthopedically unsound," APMA cites medical, postural and safety issues as reasons for concern.
"The body undergoes changes and acquires a new weight-bearing stance, [so] women should wear shoes with broad-based heels that provide support and absorb shock," according to the organization. Additionally, the extra weight your feet are supporting can lead to a variety of foot problems.
To heel or not to heel?
So some people are telling you "no" -- including perhaps your Ob/Gyn or midwife -- but your chic little heart is crying out for hellishly heel-ful glamour. What's a mama-to-be to do? You have three options: get flats, go for the moderate approach, or throw caution to the wind and tread carefully.
Flats: A low heel doesn't have to mean tennis shoes or fuzzy pink slippers. There are a ton of adorable and trendy flats out there so you know, you can still be stylin' even without the high heels. Suzanne Mitchell of Baby Mabel's in Solana Beach, California, suggests flip-flops for day wear. Surprisingly, Midwesterner Simonte of Belly Dance agrees: "We are huge fans of flip-flops! We have many dresses that can be dressed up or down, and a pair of flip-flops and a jean jacket make a summer sundress more versatile." Yes, these beach shoes are now considered fashionable and can be quite comfortable. "These days, you can find them in all colors and styles," says Simonte. "They are so affordable, you can have an entire collection for the summer."
Moderation: This means, quite simply: Don't wear high heels all day, every day. "If women persist in wearing high heels, there are ways to relieve some of the abusive effects," says the APMA. "They can limit the time they wear them, for example, alternating with good-quality oxford-type shoes or flats for part of the day."
Just going for it: During her pregnancy, Skye Hoppus, cofounder of the Childish Clothing line of maternity and baby wear, told us, "I still love my stilettos!" If this sounds like you, we just ask you to pick shoes you feel super-comfortable walking around in. (Nobody wants to see a very pregnant woman tripping over an ant on the sidewalk.) And remember that all those people staring at you strutting your stuff either are concerned about your well-being (that's a nice thing, okay?) or are just totally jealous that, even pregnant, you're one stylish woman.
Whatever footwear you ultimately choose, let comfort be your guide.
You really can find shoes that pamper your sole -- and your soul -- at the same time.