Pregnancy is a significant time for a woman. While changes occur in skin radiance and hair density, legs are not to be neglected. Because of pregnancy hormones and the development of the uterus, the condition of the legs and ankles are altered, causing the sensation of heavy, tired, painful legs and swollen feet. This is due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy with an increase in blood volume in the body. The deep and superficial veins are therefore under pressure.
Wearing compression stockings is one of the solutions to combat this phenomenon of heavy legs and these small problems of chronic venous insufficiency. Compression stockings can also reduce the risk of venous inflammation, thrombosis, and varicose veins. It is therefore advisable to wear compression stockings from the beginning of pregnancy.
There are different types of compression stockings, the support stockings that will be used at the beginning of pregnancy up to three months after delivery, as a preventive measure. We explain everything to you!
What are compression stockings for?
As explained above, problems of chronic venous insufficiency and poor blood circulation are very common during pregnancy due to the increase in blood volume of nearly 20% over the first few months of pregnancy by up to 45% at the very end. The use of compression stockings prevents swollen legs, varicose veins on the thighs, or venous stasis in the foot.
When to wear compression stockings or tights for pregnant women?
It is recommended to wear 20-30 mmHg grade pregnancy support stockings from the 3rd month of pregnancy up to 6 weeks after delivery for prevention.
How does compression therapy work?
Graduated compression applies a measured amount of compression to the legs. The pressure is at its maximum at the ankle and gradually decreases as it moves up towards the thigh. This allows blood to flow better to the heart and, through its pumping action, the heart expels blood into arteries and veins more efficiently.
Thus, the compression stocking or tights can reduce fluid accumulation in the lower limbs and the resulting discomfort. This is why they can be very useful for a pregnant woman but they are not essential.
What are the differences in the types of compression stockings?
Having painful legs in the morning or varicose veins on your thighs when you are pregnant is synonymous with venous insufficiency during pregnancy. To counter this type of problem, the use of compression stockings is therefore recommended.
Ankle stockings, mid-knee stockings or pantyhose, there are different models of compression stockings. For the pregnant woman, the compressions tights are adapted to their changing conditions since there is an elastic stretch triangle on the abdomen for optimal comfort and evolution of the pregnancy. Tights are often preferred for their full support, but stockings are convenient when worn underpants!
Another very important element is the class of compression stockings.
The first class represents preventive stockings that are intended for people who are sensitive to venous problems or pregnant women when there is no high risk of venous insufficiency (15-20 mmHg). The second class is recommended for pregnant women when the risk is higher and is confirmed by your doctor (20-30 mmHg).
How to put on compression stockings?
Here are some tips to make it easier to put on compression garments:
- Make sure your legs are dry
- Always use suitable rubber gloves when putting on and off your stockings or compression garments due to better grip. Use technical aids.
- Be careful with long nails, jewelry, rough heels, damaged shoes or any other object that could damage your compressive clothing.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle and a healthy weight.
How to maintain compression stockings and garments?
- Wash your stockings every day in warm water with a mild soap. Do not add fabric softener.
- Wash by hand or machine with a delicate cycle (unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer).
- Rinse your stockings with clean, warm water.
- Do not wring your stockings and avoid direct heat (dryer, radiator, sun).
- Sponge them in a dry towel and prefer to dry them in the open air.
- Do not iron your socks.
Validated by Annie Pépin, Compression garments clinician at Médicus