Can You Wear Compression Socks While Pregnant?

Pregnancy is the most wonderful and magical part of being a woman. However, this miracle entails going through changes from the first day of conceiving up to the day your baby is born. And these changes come with discomfort such as minor leg swelling or edema. Unfortunately, these supposedly minor problems during pregnancy will lead to severe health conditions such as deep vein thrombosis and embolism in some cases.

In this article, we will talk about the uncomfortable swelling of legs and feet that women experience during pregnancy and how compression socks can help them address these issues. 

1. Why Wear Compression Socks When Pregnant?

It is important to understand the changes that happen to your body during pregnancy and how compression socks can help ease discomfort felt in your legs and feet during this wonderful phase in your life.

a.) Increase in Body Weight.

During pregnancy, your body will increase in weight as the fetus inside your womb develops into a baby. And by the end of your pregnancy, your newborn baby baby will weight an average of 3.5 kg or 7.5 lbs.

Aside from carrying your baby’s weight, you will also gain an average of 25 to 35 pounds. This additional bodyweight will put extra pressure on your feet, ankle, and legs, causing them to feel stress and pain.

As your baby grows inside your tummy, your feet, ankles, and legs will need external support to help carry the additional weight during this period in your life. Wearing compression socks is a great tool that can provide the support your lower extremities need. It will also lessen the stress that your legs will feel, especially if you are standing or walking for extended periods of time.

b.) Edema

During pregnancy, your body’s fluid will increase up to 50% more in order to provide nourishment to you and your growing baby. These excess fluids may accumulate within muscles and tissues, causing parts of your body to have edema or mild swelling. Swollen muscles and tissues near the joints may hinder the natural movement of your feet, ankles, and legs. In effect,  wearing pants and footwear will become uncomfortable.

So how can you lessen edema or swelling during pregnancy? It’s by wearing compressions socks. Compression socks functions by gently squeezing excess fluids from the tissues and muscles. Consequently, these fluids will exit your body in the form of urine. Thus, relieving your body from pain and fluid all at the same time.

c.) Poor Blood Circulation

Your circulatory system is responsible for bringing oxygen-rich blood from your lungs to the different parts of your body through the arteries. When the various organs of your body have used up the oxygen, the veins will carry the deoxygenated blood back from your feet towards your heart.

As your baby grow inside of you, your body will produce more blood causing your leg veins to expand in diameter. This expansion will then cause the failure of vein valves to push blood towards your heart. As a result, blood will accumulate and clot in your leg veins.

To prevent such occurrence, wearing compression socks will put pressure to your leg muscles and tissues and force your veins to get back to their normal measurement. Your vein valves will regain their normal functions and blood circulation will be back to normal again.

d.) DVT and Embolism

As discussed earlier, pregnancy causes blood to accumulate in your legs. In some cases, this may lead to severe conditions such as DVT and Embolism. But what is DVT  and embolism? DVT or Deep Vein Thrombosis happens when a clot forms in deep veins such as those found in the lower legs, pelvis, or thighs. On the other hand, embolism occurs when a blood clot caused by DVT travels to the lungs and blocks the air passage.

DVT is considered as a severe medical condition since the clot developed by DVT can dislodge and block the passage of oxygen to the lungs. To prevent such conditions, doctors may prescribe that you use DVT stockings, anti-embolism stockings or compression stockings to prevent blood from accumulating in your leg veins.

In a recent study comparing 15 trials, results showed that wearing compression socks during pregnancy has significantly reduced DVT risks by as much as 63 percent.

e.) Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are those unsightly enlarged and swollen veins produced when blood accumulates in veins of the legs. They usually appear in your feet, ankle, and legs during pregnancy because of the changes in your blood circulation.

The occurrence of this conditions can also be hereditary. So if your grandmother or mother had varicose veins during their pregnancies, chances are you will have them too.

While varicose veins are generally harmless, the pooling of blood in your veins may lead to severe and life-threatening conditions such as DVT and pulmonary embolism if left untreated. And while compression socks do not claim to prevent varicose veins, wearing them will help control your varicose veins from getting worse. Moreover, compression socks also come in pretty colors and designs which do not only help you hide the unappealing look of varicose veins but can also make you look in style and fashionable.

2. Side Effects of Wearing Compression Stockings: Should You Wear Compression Socks When Pregnant?

Compression socks with low compression ratings are generally safe to use. You can purchase and wear them without the need of any prescription. But there are certain individuals who should avoid wearing them. And who are they? People who have lower extremity disorders such as peripheral vascular diseases should avoid wearing them. It is because the pressure from compression socks may worsen the conditions of their ischemic disease.

Proper wearing of compression socks should be of beneficial to pregnant women. But even so, choosing the wrong compression ratings and size may lead to the following risks:

  • Cutoff Circulation. While the primary purpose of compression socks is to improve blood circulation, choosing socks that are too tight may have the opposite effect and prevent blood from circulating properly.
  • Chaffing and Bruising. Poorly-fitted compression socks may also lead to chaffing and bruising your skin. This is especially risky for pregnant women who are diagnosed with diabetes.
  • Itching and Irritation. If you have sensitive skin, compression socks may cause your skin to feel itchy and irritated.

Aside from those with existing conditions on their legs and feet, you need not worry about any side effects of wearing compression socks throughout your pregnancy. Doctors usually recommend that you keep wearing compression socks until you deliver your baby or even six weeks after your baby’s out.

So, if you are still wondering if compression socks are good for pregnancy, then the answer is definitely a big “Yes.” So you better start investing on them and remember to choose compression socks that are made of materials that are comfortable for you.

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