Compression Stockings: Pregnancy and Postpartum Benefits

Compression Stockings: Pregnancy and Postpartum Benefits

That heavy feeling in your legs after a long day? Those loops on your ankle when you take your socks off? Varicose veins seem to only get worse as your baby grows? Unfortunately, these are all common occurrences for pregnant women and tend to worsen in the third trimester. Usually, they're nothing to worry about, and compression stockings (also called compression stockings) may help avoid the discomfort of swollen legs.

Why should I wear compression socks?

As your baby grows, they put more and more pressure on the veins and lymph vessels in the pelvis and lower body. Combined with hormonal changes and increased blood volume, this can cause fluid to build up in the legs and pelvis, as it is difficult for fluid to flow back against gravity. You may notice swelling in your lower extremities, varicose veins in your legs, or swelling and pressure in your pelvis. While severe swelling can be a sign of a serious problem, mild to moderate swelling is common during pregnancy and can often be managed with a combination of lifestyle strategies and support in the form of compression stockings for pregnant women. They can also help relieve leg pain or leg cramps and relieve sore feet.

Do compression stockings really make me healthier in the long run?

Yes they can. The risk of developing blood clots during pregnancy increases 4-5 times compared to non-pregnant women. This is because the veins and structures in the pelvis are under more pressure, which can lead to a backup in the circulatory system. Some risk of developing blood clots is genetic, and if you have a personal or family history of blood clots, talk with your caregiver about ways to reduce your personal risk during pregnancy.

While a pair of compression stockings won't eliminate the risk of blood clots, they do help support your veins, thereby improving your blood flow. Flowing blood doesn't have as many chances to form clots. Compression coupled with moderate exercise (like walking) can better support your system.

Compression stockings can also help prevent varicose veins because they help support blood vessels that may bend under the stress of pregnancy. These can become uncomfortable and may worsen with age. Varicose veins usually don't go away on their own, so it's important to do everything you can to keep them from getting worse during this time of increased stress. If you are considered at high risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), your doctor may recommend that you wear compression stockings.

When should I ask my caregiver about swelling?

Swelling during pregnancy, also called edema, is usually harmless, but it can be a sign of something more serious, such as preeclampsia or a blood clot. If you notice more swelling anywhere on your body during or after your pregnancy, it's a good idea to let your caregiver know. They can help you understand your personal risk reduction strategy. Even as you mentioned before, sometimes things can change quickly and you may need to call your OB/GYN or care provider to let them know.

Check the list below for signs that you may need to call your care provider.

  • Rapid progression of severe swelling
  • swelling with headache, blurred vision, or sensitivity to light
  • Severe swelling of hands and face
  • swelling in one leg but not the other, or with redness, warmth, or pain
  • swelling with chest pain or difficulty breathing

If your swelling is mild to moderate, appears in your legs, is neither painful nor red, stable (meaning it may be more noticeable at the end of the day and may get worse over time, but it Doesn't vary much from day to day), decreases at night or when you lift your foot, you may be able to wait until your next appointment to discuss with your care provider. In the meantime, consider using compression stockings to help you feel better and reduce your risk of complications.

Which compression method is right for me?

The degree of compression varies with the many types and styles of compression, ranging from knee- or thigh-high socks to full-length tights or pantyhose. The best compression stockings for you will cover the areas you think need the most support, usually the calves and ankles during pregnancy. If you notice pelvic pressure or varicose veins in your labia, compression leggings or cycling shorts may offer you more specific support. A well-fitting and lightweight compression is generally harmless during pregnancy (although it's always a good idea to check with your care provider about your individual needs), it protects your blood vessels and lymphatic vessels from being overwhelmed, and reduces the risk of blood clots , and help you feel more comfortable throughout the day.

How should compression socks fit?

Maternity stockings should be snug but comfortable, ideally with progressive compression (tighter at the bottom than at the top). Knee-high socks should be below the knee, not folded or tumbled at the top. If your socks are pinching your knees or leaving deep dents, you may want to try a different size or style. A poor fit can actually make the swelling worse!

When should I wear it?

Compression stockings are recommended at the beginning of the day, they can be worn throughout the day, especially if you are going to be standing up a lot. You don't need to wear them at night to sleep because they can actually get too tight if you don't exercise for a long time. Your body circulates blood more easily when you lie down, so you may not need to pressurize at night.

What do I need to know about postpartum swelling?

Most moms will see a significant reduction in swelling in the first few days after birth. However, some moms notice that their swelling persists for a while, especially after a C-section or using IV fluids.

Is swelling normal after a C-section?

Swelling after a caesarean section is common for a number of reasons, including the use of intravenous fluids and medications, decreased activity during initial healing, and ongoing changes to the circulatory system after pregnancy. Your body has been through a lot and it may take some time to flush out all the excess fluid. Swelling after a C-section can last for several weeks, but should improve steadily during this time. You can help move it by walking around as much as possible, alternating between standing and sitting, elevating your feet as high as possible, and walking with compression socks on. There's also research showing that wearing compression stockings right after surgery can help reduce the risk of blood clots associated with surgery, so keep these socks with you and wear them until you're back on your feet!

Body swelling can also persist after vaginal delivery, especially if you need IV fluids. The extra fluid retention, combined with the fact that your uterus is still enlarged, and the fact that it doesn't move as usual in the early days, can lead to swelling in the days after birth. Get as much exercise as you can, drink plenty of water, and you should be back to baseline in a few days.

When should I call my provider about postpartum swelling?

In most cases, swelling that persists after delivery is nothing to worry about and will go away on its own. However, just like during pregnancy, sometimes swelling can be a sign of something more serious. Check the list below for when to call your doctor about postpartum swelling.

  • swelling is getting worse, not better
  • swelling with headache, blurred vision, or sensitivity to light
  • swelling in one leg but not the other, or with redness, warmth, or pain
  • Severe swelling of hands and face
  • swelling with chest pain or difficulty breathing

Do compression stockings help with postpartum recovery?

Yes! Compression socks and other forms of lightweight compression can help move excess fluid. They can also help your feet feel more energized and rested after a long day, and help prevent blood clots and other circulation problems.

What else can I do to manage swelling during pregnancy and postpartum?

As strange as it may seem, drinking plenty of water can help reduce swelling during and after pregnancy. Water helps fluids flow more freely in the legs, so it is easier to stand up and flow out of the legs and out of the body in urine or sweat. It may be worth taking a few days to monitor your fluid intake and see how it helps you. Drinking to satisfy your thirst is usually enough, consider adding a drink or two to see how it helps your swelling - no chugs needed!

If you sit, put your feet on the stool as much as possible, and if you have the opportunity to lie down, put a few pillows under your feet. Raising your legs brings gravity into the picture and helps your body move fluids.

Foot massage? Yes, please! A foot massage is a great way to clear fluids from your feet, especially at the end of a long day. Remember that the risk of blood clots is higher during pregnancy, so if your swelling is only on one side, or if you are painful, red, or hot to the touch, stop rubbing your feet and seek medical attention right away.

All in all, compression stockings are a great tool for everyone to get on their feet, especially pregnant and postpartum women.

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