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Why do legs feel tired and heavy during pregnancy?

Many women suffer from heavy, tired or swollen legs during pregnancy. Altered hormonal balance, increased weight and additional blood in the body means veins have to work harder during pregnancy. How much extra blood is produced?  Close to 20 percent extra blood develops at the beginning of pregnancy.

Symptoms and development of venous stress

Weight gain that occurs during pregnancy increases the pressure on the leg veins. The blood then flows more slowly back to the heart, especially through the leg veins. The vein dilation also leads to the venous valves no longer closing properly, which can cause the blood to flow back. In addition, fluid can leak through the blood backlog into the surrounding tissue, causing the legs and ankles to swell. As a result, varicose veins can form. 

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Around half of all women develop varicose veins during their first pregnancy. In the second pregnancy, even more women can be affected. One-in-three women experience the formation of “pregnancy varicose veins” during their first pregnancy. These do not always disappear on their own after delivery. Although they tend to regress after childbirth as the weight and pressure on the veins stabilizes, veins and venous valves are sometimes permanently impaired after pregnancy. This can lead to chronic venous disease, especially in women with additional risk factors, such as genetic predisposition or obesity.

And the risk of vein occlusion also increases: pregnant women have a three-to-five times higher risk of thrombosis than non-pregnant women. Up to six weeks after the baby is born, this risk increases even more – especially after a cesarean section or with large blood lossesWith a thrombosis, a blood clot clogs the veins. This causes the blood to build up and serious consequences can result.

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Why use maternity compression stockings during pregnancy?

Compression stockings are a perfect solution for keeping your legs healthy. Medical compression stockings offer reliable support in effectively preventing thrombosis in pregnancy. Together with frequent exercise, they support the functioning of the muscle pump and the return of venous blood. Today’s compression stockings look like regular hosiery. Keeping your personal style intact while remaining in good health.

Compression class 1 is sufficient for most pregnant women. Compression class 2 can also be used for those with existing vein problems or with heavy water retention. The stockings should be worn from the third month of pregnancy until two months post-partem or until the end of breastfeeding.


Medical compression stockings from medi® offer prevention and effective support. The wide range of colors and designs of our mediven® stockings also ensure high compliance. The mediven product range extends from knee socks and thigh variants to maternity panties with an extra-comfortable panty top.

If you continue to suffer from swollen legs, you should have a doctor check whether there is a serious venous issue behind the symptom.

Stretch marks

In many pregnant women, the rapid weight gain leaves physical traces on the body. When the connective tissue is weak, stretch marks are created. In addition to the belly and waist, they can also appear on the legs. Applying lotions with special oils can prevent this, as can wearing compression stockings.

Hellp syndrome or preeclampsia

Swollen legs during pregnancy could also be signs of Hellp syndrome or preeclampsia which is associated with high-blood pressure. In any case, please consult your doctor if you cannot control the swelling.

Lipedema and pregnancy

Hormones – an important role in lipedema.

Lipedema is a pathological, chronic fat maldistribution disorder of the subcutaneous tissue. It appears as an increase of painful fatty tissue on the legs and sometimes also on the arms that is accompanied by edema (excess fluid). Experts assume that the cause is hormonal because women are almost exclusively affected. It usually begins in puberty but can sometimes also occur after a pregnancy.

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medi tips for your pregnancy

  • Try not to cross your legs while sitting because the blood circulates better if you keep your legs side-by-side.
  • Comfortable shoes and loose clothing will help keep you relaxed.
  • If you’re in warm weather, try to keep yourself cooled off as much as possible.
  • Integrate gentle exercise into your everyday life – swimming, walking and yoga are ideal for pregnant women.
  • Strengthen your veins with vein exercises.
  • Try to maintain an upright posture when carrying out your everyday activities in order to avoid incorrect posture and extra strain on your back.
  • Put up aching, swollen legs as often as possible.
  • Wear compression stockings.
  • Drink 8 cups of water a day and make sure that you eat a balanced diet (fruit, vegetables, fiber – anything that is rich in vitamins). 

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