It’s hard business growing a little human. As your baby grows, more pressure is placed on the veins and lymphatic vessels in the pelvis and lower body. When you combine this with hormonal changes and increased blood volume, there can be a backup of fluid in the legs and pelvis, and this fluid has a harder time traveling back up against gravity.

Mild-to-moderate swelling during pregnancy is common, especially in the lower extremities. You may even notice varicose veins appearing in the legs as well. Luckily, most of this swelling isn’t serious and can be managed with a combination of lifestyle strategies combined with maternity compression socks.

Compression socks = healthier mom-to-be

Did you know that the risk of developing a blood clot during pregnancy increases 4-5 times more compared to women who aren’t pregnant? When the circulatory system gets backed up, the risk of blood clots increases. If you already have a genetic predisposition, and a history of blood clots developing, then you should speak with your healthcare provider to reduce your risks while pregnant.

What are the signs that might indicate a problem?

  • Rapid progression of severe swelling
  • Swelling accompanied by headaches, blurred vision, or sensitivity to light
  • Severe swelling in the hands and face
  • Swelling that occurs in one leg and not the other, or accompanied by redness, heat, or pain
  • Swelling accompanied by chest pain or difficulty breathing

Swelling that is moderate, present in both legs, and stable during the day but reduces at night when you are able to put your feet up, isn’t usually a cause for concern. A great way to manage swelling like this is with compression stockings.

Feel better with compression

Medical compression stockings work in a simple but ingenious way.

Without any side effects, compression stockings help prevent varicose veins, spider veins, and water retention during pregnancy. Their defined pressure distribution keeps the veins in shape. The pressure is strongest at the ankle and decreases towards the thigh. This pressure helps reduce the enlarged veins, making the valves more effective in transporting blood to the heart. The result is reduced swelling and legs that feel better.

It is recommended that compression stockings be worn from the third month of pregnancy until two months postpartum or until the end of breastfeeding. The stockings will:

  • Promote venous blood flow return to assist with venous health
  • Help alleviate symptoms associated with pregnancy:
    • swollen feet
    • swollen ankles
    • tired and achy legs

What type of compression is best for me?

The level of compression can vary, as does the style of compression stockings. There are knee-high, thigh-high, and full waist-high stockings. The best option for you will be whatever provides you the most support. Well-fitted and lightweight compression is generally not harmful and can protect your blood vessels and lymphatic vessels, reduce the risk of a blood clot, and provide you with more comfort throughout your day.

Make sure that the compression you use is graduated (tighter at the ankle and reduction of compression as it progresses up the leg.) It usually only needs to be worn during daytime hours, as your body has an easier time with blood circulation when you’re lying down.

Pregnancy should be a joyful experience, but make sure it’s also a healthy one for you and for baby!

To learn more about pregnancy and compression.