Sore feet, swollen ankles, and even varicose veins are common discomforts that many people experience during pregnancy. Most of the time, swelling starts showing up toward the end of pregnancy, gets worse over time, and goes away completely after the baby is born. Any sudden or severe swelling should be reported to your healthcare provider, but even if your swelling is within normal for pregnancy, compression socks
can help alleviate some of the aches and pains.
Compression Socks and Pregnancy
Between 30 and 75% of pregnant people experience swelling in their 3rd trimester. The typical blood flow to your feet is accomplished by your heart pumping the blood out and down and the veins returning the blood to your heart using valves in a one-way flow system. As your baby grows your blood volume expands, your blood vessels dilate, and the pressure from the uterus on the pelvic veins increases, all of which makes this return flow more difficult. To compensate for the compromised blood flow, the blood vessels in your legs lighten their return load by pushing some of the fluid into the extracellular spaces, which is what creates the swelling.
Normal pregnancy swelling accumulates throughout the day and then gets better when you prop your feet up or go to bed at night, as it’s easier for your body to maintain good circulation when it isn't working against gravity. Varicose veins can also pop up in the legs, ankles and feet due to these circulatory changes. Varicose veins are enlarged and swollen veins that are overfilled with blood. They are often painful or burn, are generally uncomfortable, and increase your risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
If you are experiencing aching feet, swelling, varicose veins, or are at a higher risk of developing DVT, your care provider may recommend you wear compression socks
. Compression socks help by reducing the diameter of the blood vessels in the legs, which improves the vessels' ability to push the blood back up to the heart. With this improved blood flow there is less swelling and discomfort, and it also reduces your risk of developing blood clots. If you're pregnant, a pair of compression socks may become your new best friend!
How To Choose Compression Socks
When choosing compression socks
you'll want to consider how they fit, the level and type of compression they provide, cost, and how they look, too!
Compression socks should fit tightly, but comfortably. They should not cause your toes to get tingly, but should provide noticeable support to your legs.
Level of Compression:
There are different levels of compression available, from light to firm and some are a graduated compression, meaning more support is given to the feet and less as it moves up your calf. Many pregnant women prefer a medium to firm, graduated compression sock for the most benefits and comfort.
Compression socks prices vary quite a bit, but most of them cost around $30 and Motif Medical's compression socks are even covered by insurance!
There are a range of style options available for compression socks—anything from solids to patterns. With all the options available you're sure to be able to find some that will fit well in your wardrobe.
Once you get your compression socks, you'll get the best results if you put them on before you get out of bed in the morning, essentially before gravity has the opportunity to start working. Compression socks are much better at preventing swelling than making it go away once it's accumulated. If you don't typically have an issue with swelling or varicose veins, you may only want to wear your compression socks if you know you're going to be on your feet a lot, plan to be walking/hiking, or if you know you'll be sitting still most of the day.
Compression socks are especially great to have when traveling, since you can't move around and be as active when you're flying or driving. Once you get home and prop your feet up, you can take your compression socks off and enjoy the rest of the night. Just remember to put them back on in the morning—your feet will thank you!