Pregnancy comes with all kinds of little treats: swelling and varicose veins are just a couple of them.
(Also check out Your Pregnant Body – 20 Things They Don’t Tell You.)
Here’s the deal your heart has with your legs: your heart will pump blood down and your leg muscles and veins will pump it back up.
However, blood volume, a growing uterus, and hormones relaxing your body so you can unhinge for birth all contribute to not-so-great circulation. Your legs often can’t handle their part of the bargain and they end up like balloons that have been filled with water and everything is pooling at the bottom. What’s worse is that it’s often exacerbated by sitting or standing for long periods of time – your legs have gravity working against them, not with them. They become swollen, tired and achy and even increase your risk for blood clots (especially when you’re flying).
So this is where compression gear comes into play.
If you took that same balloon and held it tightly in your hand, it couldn’t expand as much and it would be easier to pump any fluid back up.
Compression socks ( or compression hose; pressure stockings; support stockings or gradient stockings) keep everything (you guessed it) ‘compressed’ by being very tight at the bottom and gradually get looser as you go up (sort of like inverted Spanx). It’s like a little elevator to help your legs with their new heavy lifting of fluids to help your heart out – it’s the reason why so many athletes and runners use them.
Okay, so now you decide that compression hose might be a good idea, which ones do you get?
Thankfully they don’t all look like 1922-Nervous-Hospital tensor bandages anymore. They come in everything from sassy socks to sexy tights.
The more coverage you have the better support your get. So more is better, right? Well, sort of. The challenge is that these suckers are hard to get on so you probably want to stick with the least amount of support you need then work your way up. Here are your options:
If you’re dealing with sore loaf-of-bread feet, go with socks. 15-20mmHg is what your average socks come in. Anything above that you’re into Anaconda strength and they need to be prescribed by a doctor.
- Pro: They are the easiest to get on
- Con: The compress the smallest area
If you want more coverage then check out Thigh Highs.
- Pros: You’re covering more real estate without having to go over your belly.
- Con: They are relying on your upper thigh to stay up. Too loose and they’ll fall down. Too tight and you’ll look like a popped can of Pilsbury Grands. They sound like they’d be sexy, but they aren’t – hey, we aren’t here for the hotness, right?
If everything hurts from your ankles to your back, go for tights.
- Pro: Full coverage so they will really help with leg swelling and they just look like tights.
- Cons: They can be tricky to get on. (And off for bathroom trips.) Imagine control top pantyhose that are controlling ALL the way down.
I have a pair from VIM & VIGR compression socks and I only find the foot portion tricky to get on but the leg part is quite easy to pull up (easy for me to say because I’m not 40 weeks pregnant.)
So if you find your lower half is swelling, tired or achy – or you plan on flying somewhere – grab a pair to see if they help.
After all, nothing is sexier than saying to your partner, “Hey Babe, how’s about coming over here and putting my compression socks on for me?” (Be sure to cue up the song “Cherry Pie” by Warrant too.)
Let me know if you have a pair and what you think of them! I’d love to know!