Compression Socks in Pregnancy
Being pregnant is a very exciting and joyous time. However, for many of us, it can be challenging as well. With pregnancy, many new things are happening to the body and swollen legs and varicose veins are very common problems among pregnant women. Luckily, pregnancy compression socks can help fight these problems.
Swelling During Pregnancy
Swelling, also called edema, is the accumulation of fluids in the tissue. The body will swell during pregnancy, producing about 50% more blood and body fluids to accommodate the needs of the growing fetus. The edema occurs on the face, hands, and lower extremities. As the baby grows, so does the uterus, which affects the return of blood to the heart. This, as well as the changing hormones, can cause the body to retain more fluids.
Preeclampsia is a condition only found during pregnancy. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of sudden weight gain and edema, particularly in the face and hands – may be an indication of preeclampsia. However, these symptoms are not considered reliable signs of preeclampsia alone since they also can be found in normal pregnancies. Other symptoms are severe headaches, visual disturbance, severe abdominal pain, and shortness of breath. While all these symptoms are common complaints during pregnancy, it can be very difficult to distinguish if what you are experiencing is normal, or an indication of something serious. Preeclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women whose blood pressure has been normal. Any sudden, unusual swelling or concerns should immediately be addressed by a physician.
Another thing that it’s important to monitor is one’s salt and caffeine intake while pregnant since both can cause and exacerbate edema. Standing or walking, as well as sitting down for prolonged periods of time contribute to edema, pain, and discomfort in your lower extremities.
How To Alleviate Swelling
Using graduated compression socks during pregnancy is a great way to manage swelling in feet and ankles, as well as combating leg cramps, heavy feeling, pain, or discomfort. Compression socks for pregnancy promote circulation and help your blood flow back to the heart through the venous system by providing a gradual amount of compression to your legs. Pregnancy compression socks are tightest around the ankle and the pressure gradually decreases going up the calf. Most women greatly benefit from wearing compression socks during pregnancy.
There are varying degrees of compression levels available in pregnancy compression socks. While most women are using 15-20 mmHg compression during the first two semesters, a higher pressure of 20-30 mmHg is often used during the third trimester where swelling is more predominant.
Rocca Sock pregnancy compression socks are designed with women undergoing pregnancy in mind. Rocca Sock pregnancy compression socks are engineered in a 15-25 mmHg true graduated compression providing the best of both worlds.
Varicose veins are twisted and enlarged veins. Varicose veins are most often found in your legs and while some women experience only mild symptoms during pregnancy, for others varicose veins can cause great pain and discomfort.
Normally when you walk, your calf muscles pump blood toward your heart and the one-way valves in your legs prevent blood from falling back. Varicose veins develop when your one-way valves don’t function properly, causing blood pooling in the veins. When this happens the vein wall stretches, and causes enlarged and twisted veins.
There is a greater risk of developing varicose veins during pregnancy due to the blood volume in your body increasing. As the baby grows, the pressure from your uterus presses on the veins causing them to partially block making it harder for the blood returning from your legs to the heart. Hormonal changes during pregnancy cause the vein walls to be softer, making it more difficult for them to work properly.
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Can Compression Socks Prevent Varicose Veins?
One of the best ways to manage varicose veins during pregnancy is pregnancy socks, and the best socks for pregnancy are compression socks.
Women with a family history and/or already have issues with varicose veins prior to pregnancy are more susceptible to acquire varicose veins when pregnant. The best ways to manage varicose veins during pregnancy is to avoid standing or walking for a prolonged time and not to sit for too long. Elevate your legs when resting. Getting regular exercise and wearing graduated compression socks daily.
Although compression socks are not guaranteed to eliminate or completely prevent varicose veins, they can greatly reduce the risk of getting them as well as manage pain and discomfort.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is the development of a blood clot in a deep vein. The clot formation can happen anywhere in the body, but most often affects the lower legs. Pregnant women have a six times higher risk of developing deep vein thrombosis than non-pregnant women according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
DVT can cause you to have swelling and pain, but it is possible not to have any symptoms. Pregnancy compression socks help minimize the risk of developing DVT because the pressure applied by the socks stop blood from pooling and clotting.
Women can greatly benefit from wearing graduated compression socks during (and after) pregnancy. Pregnancy compression socks provide a multitude of benefits by adding pressure to the legs to increase blood flow which allows for proper circulation. Pregnancy compression socks alleviate pain and discomfort, lower the risk of developing varicose veins, as well as deep vein thrombosis.
Article credit: Tina Wilson
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