Compression socks are no longer just for the elderly. In fact, many women are now using them during their pregnancy. With all the benefits that come from wearing compression socks, it is no surprise that pregnant women are taking advantage of these medical grade socks. We’ve dug deep to find out why your typical grandmother’s socks are making their way into the maternity world.
Compression socks, sometimes referred to as compression hosiery, are specially designed to help prevent conditions of the veins and muscles in the legs. They come in different lengths and graduations of pressure to fit a variety of needs.
When a woman is pregnant, she experiences many changes in her body to carry the unborn child. This often includes development of varicose veins, spider veins, or even deep vein thrombosis, when blood clots form, causing swelling and pain.
Pregnant women are prone to developing these problems because of the increase of blood at full term pregnancy, and higher levels of blood coagulation (how easily the blood clots) from pregnancy hormones. Wearing compression socks throughout the later stages of pregnancy can help keep the legs healthy during and even after the pregnancy.
Many women will experience health issues in their legs, often for the first time in their lives, when pregnant. Swollen legs, achy and tired muscles, and/or feelings of heaviness are all too common. These conditions developing in pregnant women are seen frequently when:
- There is a family history of varicose veins or venous diseases
- A condition in the veins existed before pregnancy
- The pregnant woman sits and/or stands for prolonged periods of time
- Lack of regular exercise during pregnancy
- During repeat pregnancies (second, third, etc.)
As the fetus begins to develop, the woman’s risk for deep vein thrombosis (DTV) and blood clots increases. This is due to the uterus expanding and putting pressure on the blood vessels, which restricts blood flow to the pelvis and the legs and back up to the heart. This slow blood flow is the main contributing factor to DVT and blood clots.
What are the benefits of compression socks?
Compression socks immediately assist with swelling and edema. Additionally, wearing graduated compression socks aids in the prevention of spider veins and varicose veins development; while at the same time helps alleviate muscle pain, aches, and heaviness in the legs. The added pressure increases the blood circulation, which aids in healthy blood flow throughout the legs.
Pressure Sizes and Length Varieties
Compression socks can be over-the-counter or prescription, and come in three different graduations of pressure to suit your needs. Over the counter compression socks are available in 10-15 or 15-20 mmHg (millimeters of mercury). And prescription strength compression socks must be fitted by a professional, and start at 20-30mmHg up to 50+mmHg.
They come in knee-high and thigh-high length to assist with your conditions. Pregnant women often wear their compression socks at night, or when they know they will be sitting for prolonged periods of time, such as working at a desk or travelling.
No matter when you decide to wear compression socks, make sure you grab a pair to help during your pregnancy. Actually, make that two pairs so you can always have a fresh pair ready to wear; and your legs are always reaping the benefits and staying healthy through all stages of your pregnancy.
Laura is a firm believer in the value of compression wear. She is a health enthusiast, and writes about the world of compression wear at Compression Info.