Compression Socks for Pregnancy: What to Know

Compression Socks for Pregnancy: What to Know

Thinking about compression socks for pregnancy? We take you through their benefits, the different types, and how to choose the perfect pair.
Swollen feet and legs are a common issue when you’re expecting.

But with compression socks, pregnancy can be a little more comfortable.

So how do they work?

And what should you look for in the perfect pair?

Let’s check it out.

In this article: 📝

  • Why do feet swell during pregnancy?
  • What are compression socks?
  • Are compression socks safe for pregnancy?
  • What level of compression socks do I need for pregnancy?
  • Compression socks for pregnancy: the bottom line

Why do feet swell during pregnancy?

One reason for swollen feet during pregnancy is that you’re carrying a lot more fluid.

During pregnancy, the fluid in your body increases by six to eight liters.

Alongside that, your womb is getting bigger as your baby grows.

That puts pressure on the veins in your pelvis and your inferior vena cava.

That’s the big vein that carries blood from the lower half of your body back to your heart.

The combination of all that fluid and pressure can lead to swelling.

Usually, it happens in the legs, ankles and feet.

And it’s completely normal: around 80 percent of expectant mamas experience the same thing.

The medical name for it is edema.

Pregnant women are also more prone to varicose veins.

These occur when the vein walls weaken, or when the valves that stop blood flowing backwards don’t work properly.

Blood collects in the vein, making it swell.

And you’re more at risk of developing blood clots when you’re pregnant too.

That could include a serious clotting condition called deep vein thrombosis, or DVT.

The good news is that compression socks for pregnancy can help with all these issues.

So what are they, and how do they work?

What are compression socks?

Compression socks fit more tightly than normal socks.

They gently squeeze your legs and feet, encouraging the blood to flow.

That simple process reduces swelling and discomfort, and lessens the risk of varicose veins and blood clots.

There are two main types of compression socks.

Anti-embolism socks are usually used by patients confined to bed after surgery.

But graduated compression socks are ideal when you’re expecting.

These fit snuggest around the feet and ankles.

And they gradually loosen the further up your leg they go.

Are compression socks safe for pregnancy?

Compression socks are very safe, and also very beneficial.

Not only do they help prevent conditions like DVT, but researchers have also found that wearing them improves nausea, vomiting, and quality of life in early pregnancy.

As for when to start wearing compression socks during pregnancy, the answer is as soon as you know you’re expecting.

And it’s a good idea to wear them for six weeks after you’ve given birth.

That will cover the whole period when you’re at higher risk of edema, varicose veins and blood clots.

Put them on before there’s any sign of swelling, and wear them for as long as they’re comfortable.

But remove them when you go to bed.

When you’re lying down, your circulation won’t be fighting against gravity, and the socks aren’t necessary.

What level of compression socks do I need for pregnancy?

Different socks offer different compression levels, measured in mmHg.

Most non-prescription socks are one of three levels:

  • Light compression (15 to 20 mmHg), the most comfortable option, offering lighter support
  • Medium compression (20 to 30 mmHg), often used by people with mild varicose veins
  • High compression (30 to 40 mmHg), used by people with more severe edema, varicose veins, or blood clots.

Everyone’s different, and there’s no hard and fast rule for the “right” level of compression.

Experiment with different options.

If a pair of socks feels uncomfortably tight, try some with lighter support.

Compression socks for pregnancy: the bottom line

Compression socks for pregnancy are a great way to tackle the discomfort of swollen feet and ankles.

They also reduce the risks of varicose veins and blood clots.

And they can even help with vomiting and nausea.

For recommendations on these and other pregnancy must-haves, we’ve got you covered here.

And if your feet are swollen after a c-section, we have ideas to help.

Good luck, mama!

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