Compression Stockings for Pregnancy
Compression stockings for pregnancy are a powerful tool against some of the discomfort associated with swollen ankles, legs and feet. They can dramatically reduce the likelihood of developing varicose or spider veins, and can also prevent the development of DVT. In this post we explore the reasons maternity compression stockings are so effective, and point you towards the best compression socks for pregnancy.
Pregnancy and Your Legs
So why does pregnancy affect your legs in such a big way?
Well, it all relates to what is happening to your veins. During your first trimester your vein walls become more relaxed while at the same time, the volume of blood flowing through the veins is increasing. According to Jobst, the actual blood flow volume increases by as much as 45%. These two effects in combination make it difficult for the blood to flow back to the heart.
This decrease in blood circulation is made worse by the fact that overall mobilization and activity is reduced during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. Increasing amounts of time are spent sitting or lying down which further reduces blood circulation.
For these reasons, most pregnant women will at the very least experience some degree of leg, ankle and feet swelling. The feeling of heaviness is very common and is the direct result of more blood in the legs.
The other common effect this reduction in blood circulation has is developing varicose veins or spider veins. In fact, according to Sigvaris, 30% of women who are pregnant for the very first time and 55% of women who have had more than one pregnancy develop varicose veins.
A potentially more serious effect of blood pooling in your legs, is an increased risk of developing DVT. A decrease in blood circulation and a lack of activity are two of the main contributors to developing DVT.
How can you reduce the likelihood of developing any of these conditions?
The best course of action is to keep your legs as healthy as possible during pregnancy. To do this, try to avoid long periods of immobilization. Avoid sitting or standing for long periods and try and be as active as possible. Other than maintaining higher activity levels, the best way to increase blood circulation and therefore reduce any swelling, or development of varicose veins or DVT, is to wear compression stockings.
Compression stockings for pregnancy
Wearing compression stockings during pregnancy is one of the very best ways to maintain healthy legs. The reason is they promote the circulation of blood. Graduated compression stockings encourage the flow of blood upwards towards the heart. They do this by being tightest around the ankle and having decreasing compression upwards. This essentially squeezes the blood out of the legs. Not only does this reduce the likelihood of any swelling, it results in much healthier legs. As the blood flows out of the legs, it makes way for fresh blood to come down from the heart. This fresh blood brings with it oxygen and other nutrients which are vital for general muscle and body tissue health.
Compression stockings for pregnant women counteract the effects of inactivity. They result in the same outcome as activity, without actually having to do the activity. This can go a long way to keeping your legs healthy, and reducing any risk of DVT or varicose veins developing.
Is it safe to wear compression stockings during pregnancy?
This is a common question asked about compression stockings. The best way to answer this is to ask the advice of your own doctor. However, the overall consensus is yes.
It is safe to wear compression stockings during pregnancy and will potentially decrease your risk of developing varicose and spider veins, as well as decrease your risk of blood clots. It is a good idea to wear the stockings during pregnancy, especially if you are prone to varicose and spider veins
Best Support Stockings for Pregnancy
Compression stockings can be categorized by length and by compression strength. As far as length goes, they generally come in three varieties:
- knee length, also known as compression socks for pregnancy, or pregnancy support socks
- thigh length
- full length compression hose for pregnancy
Deciding which type of compression stockings to buy comes down to your individual circumstances. If you only have swelling in your lower legs, than knee length will more than suffice. However, if you want full leg compression to fully minimize any risk of DVT or varicose veins, then thigh-high or compression hose for pregnant women would be the way to go.
Something else you may want to consider is the ease of putting on the compression stockings. Depending on the compression strength, they can be quite difficult to get into. This is especially true towards the end of your pregnancy when flexibility is restricted. If you are feeling stiff, you might not want to buy full-length. In this situation, knee length is probably the better way to go.
Compression stockings come in a variety of compression strengths. For most, 15-20 mmHg or 20-30 mmHg will be most suitable. If unsure, it is recommended that you consult a medical professional. It is normal to at first find compression stockings uncomfortable. For this reason, it is often recommended to transition into higher compression strengths by first adjusting to a lower strength. For example, you may want to get used to wearing 15-20 mmHg for a week before transitioning into 20-30 mmHg.
Compression stockings are available in most major stores and drug stores, as well as Amazon. As far as brands go, the best are made by Jobst. These are our recommended stockings for you. While slightly more expensive than the rest of the market, their quality is the best.
Hopefully, this guide has answered any questions you might have about wearing compression stockings during your pregnancy. If you have any questions about compression stockings for pregnancy, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below.