During pregnancy, there are so many new things that you will experience. At the end of it, you’ll have an adorable little baby, but, in the meantime, you’ll get showered with gifts, have that pregnancy glow, and feel your little one kick and move around.
However, there are also changes to your body that can be a little bit of a pain. The extra weight can lead to backaches. Even sleep can feel challenging since you’ll need to adjust a bit as your belly grows — with a lot of bathroom breaks thrown in for good measure.
Even with all these challenges, it’s important to remember what things you have to look forward to. Plus, there are plenty of non-medicinal ways to help relieve some of the issues that come along with pregnancy, like compression socks.
Compression socks are a helpful tool that puts slight pressure on your leg to help relieve leg cramps, varicose veins, or other issues that may occur due to an increase in bodily fluids. Since shoes and socks can be difficult to put on during pregnancy, especially around the end of the second trimester, it might help to know the two easiest ways to put on compression socks.
What Are Compression Socks?
Compression socks are basically socks, but with an important difference. These socks are made to fit snugly and gently put pressure on your leg. Compression socks are still stretchy, but they are tight enough that they can help reduce swelling.
There are plenty of options to choose from. It’s important to find compression socks that are the right fit for you.
If you get graduated pressure or compression stockings, they will be tighter around the ankles and get looser as you go up the leg. There are long compression stockings that are thigh-high, and there are even compression tights if you need them. You could also purchase compression sleeves, which don’t have the foot.
There are some stockings that are used after surgery, but generally, if you’re pregnant, you won’t need those. Graduated stockings tend to be a good fit for people who will be on their feet for part of the day but have medical reasons that make it difficult.
There are also socks that can add more pressure than others, but if you think you need those, you should consult with your OB-GYN or midwife. They could help you get a better idea of which socks could best meet your needs.
You don’t want socks that are so tight they are uncomfortable for you, but you do benefit from the pressure on your legs. Consider how your you figure out what type of sock you need.
How Do They Work?
We know that compression socks pressure your legs to help with cramps and swelling, but why does that work? What do compression socks actually do?
Basically, compression stockings help promote blood flow. They help your blood vessels work better by helping the arteries relax, so they can carry oxygen to the necessary muscles and then help push the blood to the heart.
Because of the improved blood flow, compression socks can also reduce the potential for blood clots. Instead of pooling in your veins, your blood is moving around efficiently. Although clots help prevent us from bleeding too much after we get a cut, clots can be dangerous if there isn’t any reason to block blood flow, especially if they make their way to the heart or lungs.
Clots can also be the reason for clotting and discolored skin, among other issues. The pressure and increased blood flow can help prevent cramps or tired and achy legs.
Why Would I Need Compression Socks While I’m Pregnant?
Improved blood flow can be great for so many people, like athletes, but why would someone who is pregnant need to use them?
Many different issues might mean that you need compression socks, but one of the primary reasons is that the amount of fluids in your body increases during pregnancy. Add in your growing uterus and the increased weight of your baby, and that’s a lot of pressure potentially resting on the vena cava and pelvic veins.
As a result, there are many possible issues that you might need the socks for, such as:
- Varicose veins
- Swelling in the feet, legs, or ankles
- Leg cramps
- Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, the medical term for clots that form in veins that are deep in the body, like the pelvis or legs
If you’re having some issues with clotting, you can also use Plasmaflow to reduce the possibility of clots forming.
If you notice any pain, warmth, skin discoloration, redness, tension in the legs, or swelling, these may be symptoms of DVT. You should call your doctor and head to the hospital.
You can think of compression socks as a type of wearable massage for your legs. Compression socks might be right for you if you have any of these issues.
When Should I Start Wearing Compression Socks?
You may be wondering when it would be a good idea to start wearing compression socks. Some women may wait to use them until they have leg cramps or swelling, but you can wear compression socks during your first trimester.
You don’t necessarily need to wear them daily, but they can be helpful in preventing certain issues. However, if you notice signs of swelling or stagnation of the blood, it may be a good idea to start wearing them more regularly.
Putting compression socks in the morning when you’re ready to get out of bed is the ideal option, especially if you have a busy day. Swelling tends to occur later in the day or if the weather is hot. It’s a preventative measure since it’s easier to keep swelling from occurring than trying to reverse it.
When you’re ready to go to bed, or you want to sit with your feet up, you should take them off. Since your legs will be level with the rest of your body, the blood vessels can function well on their own. Also, don’t forget to take them off when you’re showering, taking a bath, or swimming in the pool.
If you feel any discomfort or tightness, or the socks feel uncomfortable on your skin, or if you’re having any health complications due to the compression socks, you should stop wearing them.
How Do I Put Compression Socks On? Two Easy Ways
During your first trimester and the early parts of your second trimester, putting on compression socks is super easy. All you need to do is make sure the socks are smoothed out, the right size, and aren’t bunched up.
If the socks are bunched up, they can’t evenly spread out the pressure. Rolling or folding the tops down will make the socks too tight and may cut off circulation or cause other blood flow problems, making the situation worse.
Once you reach the late second trimester, not only will your bump be more visible, but you will also start to have problems bending at the waist, which can make putting socks on way more complicated. Fortunately, you have two options.
1. Use Your Partner to Help
One thing that a pregnant woman needs is support. Support can be offered in many different ways. Your support system can help you with cleaning, moving heavy things around, or putting on socks.
Your partner can be a big help in big things and small things, like helping you with your compression socks and shoes, if needed.
2. Find an Assistive Device
If your partner isn’t available to help you put on your socks, or you don’t feel comfortable asking them to help with this task every day, you can also use an assistive device.
There are currently inventions that allow you to place the sock over a frame so you can slip your foot into the sock without help.
There are plenty of options for you to look into. Although it’s difficult to bend at the waist during pregnancy, these devices eliminate that requirement.
Finding Ways Around the Bump
Pregnancy can be amazing, but it makes mobility a bit harder. Fortunately, there are many products that can help relieve pain or other issues that expectant mothers can have during pregnancy without the need for medication.
Compression socks are great. Using pressure to promote blood flow can prevent problems like swelling, clotting, and leg cramps. They’re like a massage for your legs.
Compression socks can come in all shapes and sizes. It’s important to find the right fit for you. It’s also important for you to find a way to put these socks on as your baby bump grows since it can be difficult to bend at the waist.
With the help of your support team or an assistive device, you should be able to put compression socks on and go about your day easily. Compression socks are helpful and practical throughout pregnancy.
Managing Your Weight Gain During Pregnancy: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
Varicose Veins: Symptoms and Causes | Mayo Clinic
Leg Cramps During Pregnancy | American Pregnancy Association