A pregnant woman’s body undergoes many changes from conception to the birth of her baby and one of these changes can also include oedema or swollen feet. This can be an extremely uncomfortable experience for the would-be-mommy, however, there are few measures that you can take to relieve this pregnancy symptom and one of them includes wearing compression socks. Read on to know more about compression socks and whether or not it is a good option for you!
What Is Compression Stocking?
As your body prepares to support a new life growing life inside you, it produces more blood and fluids. Along with this, your growing uterus also starts putting pressure on the vein, also called vena cava, which is responsible for carrying blood from the feet and legs to your heart. All of these factors can cause swollen and painful feet and legs. This condition of swollen legs and feet is known as oedema, which is very normal during pregnancy and approximately 75 per cent of pregnant women experience this pregnancy symptom anywhere after 27 weeks of pregnancy. However, this symptom usually does not subside until the arrival of your munchkin, so does that mean that you will have to bear the discomfort and pain!
Well, wearing compression socks may help in relieving and releasing the pressure from the legs, ankle, and feet. These socks apply graduated pressure, which means these socks apply more pressure on the feet and ankles and lesser pressure on the legs. This helps in improving blood flow by allowing the blood to be pushed back from the legs to the heart. For this reason, you can wear these stockings and sometimes your doctor may even recommend you to wear them to ease your pain.
How Compression Socks Can Help During Pregnancy
Here are some benefits of compression socks during pregnancy:
1. Help in improving blood circulation
As you progress with your pregnancy, your growing uterus starts putting weight on your legs that may lead to disrupted blood flow to the legs and feet. Also, the changing pregnancy hormones may increase the chances of blood clots, which may sometimes lead to conditions such as DVT or deep vein thrombosis. Wearing compression socks is a great way of improving blood circulating and keeping such health complications at bay.
2. Help in reducing swelling
A pregnant woman’s body produces more blood and fluids to support the growing fetus. The increased fluids in the body can sometimes lead to swelling in the feet and legs. Using pregnancy socks for swollen feet is a great way of keeping swelling at bay especially if you are on your feet most time of the day!
3. Helps in preventing varicose veins
If you have been observing some purplish or bluish veins on your legs, which are also known as varicose veins, it could be of the pregnancy symptoms. These veins appear on your legs when the valves of the veins do not function properly and thus result in this painful condition. However, wearing compression socks may help in improving the blood circulation, which in turn can help in reducing or minimizing this painful pregnancy symptom.
4. Help in providing relief from leg and feet pain
As you get further along with your pregnancy journey, you may feel pains and aches in your feet and legs. This happens due to the extra weight that your body carries and also because of hampered blood flow. However, using or wearing compression socks can help in relieving the pain by improving blood circulation.
Which Compression Level Is Right for You
The compression socks for pregnant women come with different levels of compression as they are designed for specific usage. It is best to get prescribed by a doctor for the level that is best suited for you or sometimes your doctor may recommend it based on your health condition. Following are the different compression levels.
- 8 to 15 mmHg: This level of compression is great providing relief to the achy or tired legs. The gentle compression level provided by these socks is great for energizing legs by improving blood circulation.
- 15 to 20 mmHg: This mild level of compression is great for getting relief from aching, swelling, or varicose veins of minor to moderate intensity. This amount of compression is great to keep DVT at bay while travelling, sitting for standing for long hours.
- 20 to 30 mmHg: This is the most widely used level of compression that is prescribed by doctors to provide relief from oedema, varicose veins, DVT, etc. by providing moderate compression. This level is usually known as firm compression or Class I.
- 30 to 40 mmHg: Often referred to as Class II level compression, this level socks are great for providing relief from severe cases of varicose veins, oedema, DVT, etc. This level of socks should only be worn if your doctor advises you to do so.
- 40 t0 50 mmHg: This level of compression that is also called Class III level is considered the highest level of compression and is prescribed to treat conditions such as post-thrombotic syndrome, chronic venous insufficiency, etc.
How to Choose the Best Compression Socks for Pregnancy
Make sure you keep the following factors in mind when buying compression socks for pregnancy:
1. Easy to wear
If you are thinking that wearing a pair of compression socks would be similar to wearing your regular pair of socks, well, that is not the case. This is because these socks are tighter and you simply cannot put them on like your regular socks. You may need to roll them, like a pantyhose and thus it may become difficult to wear them in this manner towards the end of your pregnancy. There are brands that offer easy to use pull-on styles that may come with zippers, which are comparatively easier to wear. Therefore, you must consider this point in mind while picking up a pair for yourself.
2. Comfortable to wear
These socks are designed to provide gentle pressure and support to your feet and legs. However, if you feel that the socks are too tight, digging into your skin, leaving marks on your skin, your legs are feet are getting squeezed, or your feel any other such discomfort, you may like to switch to a lighter compression level of socks. There is no doubt that you can wear pregnancy compression socks for flying, driving, doing household chores, and various other day-to-day tasks, however, ideally you should not wear them to bed.
3. Buy one in your size
Like your regular pair of socks, these compression socks also come in various sizes. These sizes usually correspond to your regular shoe size, however, most brands come in two sizes, small/medium and large/extra-large option. You should check the sock sizing before picking a pair for yourself.
3. Pick the right length
These socks come in different styles, which means from ankle length to thigh length, you can pick up any length as per your requirement. Usually, knee-length or thigh-length socks are more effective for women suffering from varicose veins.
4. Choosing the right level of compression
Just like size and length, these socks also come in different levels of compression that can range from 8 mmHg to 50 mmHg. However, the higher compression levels are usually recommended by a doctor. But there are over the counter socks available too, if you do not require any particular degree of compression.
How to Use Compression Socks When Pregnant
You can wear compression socks as soon as you wake up in the morning or when you start your day. This is because these socks are great for keeping swelling and pain at bay. You can wear these socks while sitting, walking, standing, or while doing any other activity. Also, once your feet get swollen, you may find it difficult to wear them as these socks are tight, so wear them before any swelling happens. You do not have to wear them at night as your feet and legs are at the same level as the rest of your body.
Here are some commonly or frequently asked questions on wearing compression stockings during pregnancy that many would-be-mommies may have in their minds.
1. Will my baby be at risk if I don’t wear compression socks?
There are many benefits of wearing compression socks during pregnancy and if you keep all these benefits in mind then you may think it to be a great idea. This also means that apart from providing more nutrients to your growing baby by improving better flow, wearing these socks may also help in preventing conditions such as blood clots, which may prove to be fatal for the growing fetus. So, if you plan not to wear these socks, you may do so but do keep in mind that it may be better for you and your baby’s health if you do otherwise!
2. Are compression socks/stocking different from maternity stockings?
You may have come across maternity stockings and it may make you wonder whether these are different from compression socks! Well, there is no difference between the two, rather they are the different terms used for the same product. So, whether you call it maternity stockings or compression socks, it all means the same!
3. Can I sleep in compression socks during pregnancy?
If you wish to doze off in them, you can do so as there is no drawback of doing so but many women may find it uncomfortable in doing so. Also, when you are lying down, your legs and feet are on the same level as the rest of the body, which means no hampered blood flow and pressure on the legs. However, if wearing these socks gives you comfort and relief from pain, you can keep wearing them all day long and even while sleeping at night.
You can buy compression socks from your local drug store; however, it is always better to consult your doctor before doing so. Your doctor will not only be able to guide you about what would be the ideal level or length that you may require. Therefore, we recommend getting in your health care provider before you make any such decision.