When compression socks are mentioned the first thing that might come to mind is this – Those socks should before athletes only! However, here’s a quick question. Are you a victim of pregnancy swellings with legs about the size of a tree trunk? How are those legs after a long day?
That’s not true. Hence, let’s talk about pregnancy compression socks and how they are useful for pregnant women. Pregnancy for women is a life-changing experience, it can be exhausting both physically and mentally.
Having a Baby is not Easy!
Health Concerns Associated with Pregnant Women
Women have to deal with mild or severe pregnancy symptoms, pains all over, with body changes. As the body prepares to welcome a new life, few changes occur to accommodate the baby. The body produces more blood, the uterus increases in size which causes pressure to increase on the legs and so.
One of the problems faced by most pregnant women is edema, a venous disorder, simply known as fluid retention either in a specific part of the body usually the limbs, or the whole body. Another is a varicose vein (bulging veins), this can be very uncomfortable. After several studies explain how to manage pregnancy-related body changes, it was discovered that compression sock can help reduce swelling and also move excess fluid out of the legs significantly causing overall relief (Dresang, Lee T., et al. 2008).
Are Compression Socks Safe to Wear During Pregnancy?
It is normal to be concerned about the health safety associated with compression socks for women during their pregnancy or third trimester. The answer to this is yes! Compression socks are safe for wear by pregnant women, however, this comes with some conditions:
- The supervision of a health physician (Gynecologist preferably), while making choice on the type of compression needed (based on pressure level) and how long the compression socks are to be worn.
- Specification on what stage pregnancy should a maternity compression socks be suitable for.
Furthermore, several kinds of research have been made annually to verify how helpful the wearing of compression socks is for pregnant women. An article published by The International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology highlighted that their research indicated that compression therapy improved medical symptoms associated with venous congestions and blood circulation of the legs during pregnancy periods and postpartum. It was also discovered from the research that consistent use of compression during periods of pregnancy and after birth, alleviates the development of blood clots causing obstruction of the blood vessels.
But What Really are Compression Socks?
Compression stockings or hosiery are specially modified fabrics, designed to help sooth pains and uncomfortable symptoms on the lower body parts. They are usually elastic and modified to mount a certain amount of pressure on the affected area. Athletes use compression socks to relieve pain on the legs during vigorous exercise. However, individuals with medical-related conditions use them for treatment therapy.
The need to wear compression socks arises for a pregnant woman in need of relief from pregnancy-related leg cramps. Although leg cramps are normal pregnancy experiences, it can be really frustrating to be confined to a bed because your legs hurt. Compression socks, not only relieve your pain, but it will also help shift your weight off your legs so that they feel lighter and easier to carry. Compression socks hug your legs with a pressure comfortable enough to make your feet feel lighter while enabling blood movement up your body.
Who Wears Compression Support Stockings?
Well since compressions socks can be basically referred to as nice stretchy and fitted socks that give relief to the muscles and aid blood circulation, literally, there’s no that would not want that right!
Although this article is focusing on maternity compressions, compression socks are worn by lots of individuals for different reasons. They include but are not limited to:
- Pregnant women
- The aged (men and women)
- Athletes/Sports enthusiasts
- Individuals prone to thromboembolism (development of blood clots)
- Blood circulatory challenges on the lower body part
- Post-surgery patients
- Health workers, hospitality workers, and professionals are required to stand on their feet for long periods
- And more
Fun Fact: How Long Has Compression Legwear Been in Existence?
Although in another form, compression socks have been around for a very long time. In the form of cloths tied around soldiers’ legs and waists to give them a gallant look. Compression sock may not be an elastic fabric, it can be in the form of a bandage wrapped tightly around the limbs, this performs the same function as compression socks.
Forms of Compression Socks
There are several types of compression socks, however, your choice depends on the purpose of the socks (medical or non-medical purposes). Medical compression socks are used to prevent or sooth health conditions that may occur from pregnancy symptoms like deep vein thrombosis (DVT). They include:
- Graduated compression socks- In this type of socks, the pressure it uses is strongest at the ankle and feet and gradually reduces as it progresses up the leg. Some only reach up to the thighs, they reduce feet fluid build-up and varicose vein, while some reach up to the calf, these are used to improve peripheral edema. Graduated socks are easier to wear especially if you will be using them for a long time. The advantage of using graduated compression socks is the improved flow of blood up your body. This way weight can be lifted off your legs, you feel less pain and aches in your lower region.
- Anti-embolism socks- These socks reduce the possibility of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). They also provide gradual compression. These socks are great for pregnant women struggling with DVT and have to travel by air. This reduces your chance of getting blood clots and swelling especially if you would be traveling for long hours.
This is the continuous use of specially modified fabrics which can mount a specific amount of pressure worn on the legs or hands for correctional or preventive purposes. It makes use of compression socks or bandages to give support to the legs so that the blood vessels can be narrowed (this improves blood flow) therefore preventing pooling of blood in the legs. This process circulates blood from the high-pressure regions of the body e.g legs to the heart for proper circulation. Therefore the end result is a light, pain-free leg, free of a blood clot and a reduce possibility of developing varicose veins.
Features and Designs of Compressions for Pregnant Women
We understand the dilemma and will help get those feet to size great to go shoe shopping for!
Trendy and fashionable: There are trendy types of compression socks designed to meet medical needs while flowing with the current fashion trends. Following are the types of fashionable compression socks designs you will find in the market:
- Open toe socks: This type gives you the opportunity to wear high heel sandals so you can flaunt your $100 pedicure.
- Closed socks: Give you a more cozy feeling while you flow with the trend.
- Colorful socks: Compression socks no longer come in dull colors, you can pick out whichever color that suits you.
- Various lengths of compression socks to choose from: Thigh-length compression socks, anklets, knee-high, full-lengths, and calf-length compression socks and many more.
Health Benefits of Wearing Compression Socks
Wearing them during the third-trimester can improve your leg health!
Most women find pregnancy overwhelming alone on its own, having to deal with physical changes on the body and emotional fluctuation can make women tired not to talk of extra problems like achy, tired feet, heavy and swollen feet, and painful varicose vein. It is explainable that the body starts to prepare to accommodate your baby immediately after fertilization. Your body produces more blood, hormonal changes make the walls of your blood vessels too smooth to pump blood properly, this causes blood to pool in your legs which may clot. This comes with a heavy feeling on your lower regions and overall tiredness. In severe cases, the clot may cut loose and be transported to the lungs where it can cause a condition known as a pulmonary embolism. When you wear them, coupled with a few exercises, you will enjoy the following:
- Prevent the development of DVT, varicose vein and swollen feet if worn early enough and to correct these conditions even after their symptoms.
- Lighter legs, so you can move around all you want, enjoy uninterrupted sleep and a normal daily routine without being restricted by heavy painful legs.
- The overall health of you and your baby. Your blood pressure affects your baby’s too. It important that your heart rate is kept normal. If your heart does less work to pump blood, you feel less tired and so does your baby.
- Fashion and Style: Compression socks now look really fashionable, you do not have to worry about dull and common designs anymore. You can wear compression socks and still follow the fashion trend. You can develop your own unique style also.
What Should A Good Compression Sock Look And Feel Like?
It is not enough to just walk into a store and pick out the most eye-catching one you see. It is about choosing the one that is suitable for you. Here are a few things you need to consider before picking out compression socks for you:
- Colour and Design: You are free to choose any design or color that suits your personality. No need to be restricted to old dull patterns.
- Fits: It is important that you pick out your perfect size, under-sized socks may deform your legs or leave you with irritated skin. You might need the help of a professional to get your correct size and probably fit it to your size.
- Quality of Fabric: Check that the fabric is soft against your skin, because rough materials may irritate your skin.
Different Pressure Range of Compression Socks for Pregnancy/Maternity
The pressure that compression socks offer will determine how constriction will be placed on your legs. The lower the pressure, the lower the compression; the higher the pressure, the higher the compression a sock can apply. The pressure contained in compression socks is represented by mmHg which is known as the millimeter of Mercury. Let’s take a look at what the different levels of compression mean:
The lowest category (8-15 mmHg): This is mildly constrictive, it is used to prevent the development of varicose veins, relieve leg pain especially for people who are always on their feet for a long time.
The middle category (15-20mmHg): This uses medium pressure to compress the limbs. They prevent the occurrence of deep vein thrombosis, help with pain relief and reduce aches in your leg.
The top categories ranging from 20-50mmHg: These categories are used by individuals with severe cases of Deep vein thrombosis, severe varicose vein, venous ulcers, and leg pains. 40-50mmHg will require a prescription from your doctor as it the height of compression socks.
Pregnancy and Compression Socks
They are one of the best things to wear when having a baby and after!
Pregnant women use compression socks to prevent and manage pregnancy-related swelling and pain on the legs. Compression socks work by holding the leg together, firmly, thereby making it feel lighter while easing the pain. There are different categories of compression socks depending on how much pressure they can exert, some are designed for support only while some are also fashionable. You can buy these socks if you feel the need to, all you need to consider is your size, how comfortable you need it to be and how stylish you need it to look. You can as well talk to your doctor for a precise recommendation if your leg cramps are really severe.
Compression socks also help improve venous function by increasing blood flow from your legs to your heart. This will also relieve your achy legs and make it lighter.
However, to maximize the function of the compression socks, you may have to ensure:
- You do not stay in one position for too long, instead of standing or sitting for a long time, you can take a short walk.
- You stretch your body as much as you can. Mild exercise is good for the body, however, avoid rigorous ones for the baby’s safety.
- Rest as much as you can. To keep your heart stable, it is important to rest effectively, clear your head and take short naps.
- Place your leg over a pillow before sleeping.
Start to wear them during maternity now!
Since compression socks are made from soft elastic non-toxic materials, they are safe to use. However, some users complained of the following:
- Uneven Indentation on the surface of the skin that soon disappears after stopping the use of compression socks.
- Irritation and itchy rashes on legs due to heat from wearing compression socks
- Wrinkled skin from too much constriction from compression socks
- Fungal growth on the feet causing a strong odor
- Over-controlled blood circulation can lead to seized blood circulation causing numbness of the legs
It is advised that you should avoid prolonged use of compression socks to avoid the aforementioned side effects. Too much of anything is bad anyway!.
They are literally one of the best garments for all the mommies out there!
Conclusively, compression socks give a two in one package of being pregnant and comfortable while looking gorgeous. You just have to get a compression sock that fits you and matches your style.