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Pregnancy and Compression Socks: What You Need to Know

Pregnant women with leggings

Pregnancy is a time in life for women where the focus shifts from self and a significant other to their child. Women who engaged in unhealthy behaviors before getting pregnant, such as smoking or frequent alcohol consumption, showed marked decreases, and many times complete elimination in such behavior after they learned that they were pregnant, according to a study performed by the Society of Wetland Scientists.

Compression stockings are brought up as a panacea for pregnancy ailments, which leaves people wondering if they’re too good to be true. People have many questions on compression stockings: How do they work? Are they safe? What are their downsides? We’re here to answer those questions and more.

Pregnancy, Swelling, and Compression Socks

When you’re pregnant, most of your body’s processes slow down to prepare to accommodate the new life inside you. Your body also produces more blood for the same reason. In addition, your growing uterus puts pressure on your vena cava, a vein that carries blood from the legs and feet to the heart, hindering the already slowed blood flow. Finally, the legs are already difficult for blood to travel through since the heart has to pump blood against gravity there. Together, these factors lead to swollen, painful legs. This is called edema, and it’s a completely normal part of pregnancy.

Unfortunately, normal doesn’t mean pleasant. Many women complain of the swelling being uncomfortable and sometimes downright painful. Compression socks are an easy and affordable way to get blood pumping the way it should.

Will Compression Socks Prevent or Reduce My Leg Pain During Pregnancy?

Almost always. Compression socks are so good at relieving edema pain that whenever edema is mentioned, compression socks are usually mentioned, too.

Do Compression Socks Help Prevent Varicose Veins During Pregnancy?

Yes. We’ve written before about compression socks’ ability to manage varicose veins, but the three best ways to prevent varicose veins during pregnancy are to avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time, get regular exercise, and wear some sort of compression socks/stockings.

You should also know that if you didn’t develop varicose veins until the first time you got pregnant, it’s likely that they will go away after shortly after you give birth. Varicose veins are more likely to show up during pregnancy because of all the extra work the body does during that time. Once the stress of pregnancy goes away, varicose veins often go away with it.

Will Compression Socks Prevent Blood Clots and Deep Vein Thrombosis?

No, they won’t prevent them. However, they will greatly reduce the risk of getting them. That’s why if you only wear compression socks once during your pregnancy, it should be during a long car or plane ride, since that’s when you’re most likely to develop dangerous blood clots.

Will Compression Socks Dislodge a Current Blood Clot?

No, and it’s a good thing that they don’t, since a dislodged blood clot can be deadly. In many cases, wearing compression socks is a part of the treatment for an existing blood clot. Of course, consult your doctor before making any sort of decision regarding this.

What Do the Different Compression Values Mean?

Compression socks apply graded compression, which means that how hard they squeeze on your ankles is different than how hard they squeeze your calves. So, when a compression sock says it has 15-20mmHg compression, that means that it applies harder pressure around your feet and lighter pressure as the sock moves up your leg. This gradation helps compression socks to be comfortable while still assisting blood’s journey to the heart.

Compression socks stronger than 15-20mmHg must be prescribed by a doctor. Try a pair and see if it works for you before scheduling an appointment with your doctor.

Will I Put My Baby at Risk if I Don’t Wear Compression Socks?

Since there are only benefits, no downsides, to compression during pregnancy, you could say that. It’s more helpful, though, to consider the perks of compression. Better blood flow means that your baby is getting more of nutrients it needs. Plus, compression socks help to prevent blood clots, which can be fatal to you and your baby.

Is There Any Difference between Compression Socks/Stocking and Maternity Stockings?

Nope! Maternity stockings are just rebranded compression stockings.

Can I Sleep In Compression Socks While Pregnant?

You can, but some people find it uncomfortable. There is no harm in not wearing your socks 24 hours a day, so if it helps your pain or gives you more peace of mind, go for it.

Are There Reasons Why I Shouldn’t Wear Compression Socks?

If you don’t mind that sometimes they’re a little hard to put on, nope! Wearing compression socks during pregnancy poses absolutely no risk to either you or your child. If you ever have questions about that, though, you should consult your doctor about it.

You should know, however, that if you wear compression socks that don’t fit, they won’t work properly and will likely be uncomfortable.

Here’s to a smooth, healthy pregnancy!

Hopefully as you move forward in your motherly journey, you feel more informed to make decisions for you and your baby! If you’re looking for a place to buy some cute compression socks, check out our store!

If you’re looking to learn more about compression socks, check out our blog. “The History of Compression Socks” is a great place to start.