Did you know that during pregnancy your blood volume increases by about 20%?
Hormonal changes that come with pregnancy also result in increased blood pressure, increased size and permeability of blood vessels, and greater laxity of connective tissues (for example, greater flexibility of ligaments). This is largely due to the hormone relaxin. In addition to causing loosening of ligaments to facilitate birth, the hormone relaxin also results in loosening other connective tissues, such as blood vessels and fascial structures. This accommodates for the increase in blood volume and blood pressure. It also results in less tissue pressure, which normally helps with drainage of excess fluid from the space between cells. Swelling may also be caused in part by compression of the major veins and lymphatic vessels in the pelvis which can become restricted from the pressure of your growing baby.
These changes are normal and necessary to nurture and facilitate the growth of a healthy baby. However, sometimes these changes result in symptoms such as swollen, tired, and achey legs.
Varicose Veins and Pregnancy
Hormonal changes, pressure in the pelvis on veins and lymphatic vessels, and weight gain can also contribute to the development or worsening of varicose veins during pregnancy. It is not uncommon for varicose veins to show up during pregnancy, especially for those with a genetic predisposition or pre-existing varicose veins. Although varicose veins disappear soon after the baby is born for many, prolonged distention of veins for those with existing varicose veins or varicosities that persist after birth can over time lead to more permanent damage of the veins and valves within them – this can contribute to the progression of varicose veins long term. Compression stockings (and lymphatic drainage) can be used as a treatment for varicose veins.
Medical Compression Stockings
Medical compression stockings can be a helpful tool for managing these symptoms during your pregnancy. (Massage & lymphatic drainage therapy can also be helpful for managing these symptoms)
Compression stockings can help to reduce swelling by increasing pressure in connective and vascular tissues under the skin thereby providing support for your veins and lymphatic vessels. The stockings are designed to apply a precisely defined gradient pressure on your legs, where compression is strongest at the ankle and decreases in an upwards direction along the leg. This gradient in pressure helps to improve circulation.
Why use compression during pregnancy?
- Decreased swelling in feet and legs
- Relief from aching, fatigued legs
- Helps prevent & minimize varicosities
- Lessens vertigo and nausea
- Prevention of thrombosis (blood clots)
(Mendoza & Amsler, 2017; Lim & Davies, 2014; Xiong & Xiaoming, 2018).
- Prevention of distension of veins with blood and varicose veins. Distention of veins over time can lead to more permanent damage of the veins and valves within them – this is the cause and progression of varicose veins long term. Compression stockings can be used as a treatment for varicose veins
- Prevention of connective tissues from filling with excess edema or fluid, ie. swelling. Overtime swelling in the tissues can lead to local impaired skin and connective tissue health. This is a factor in achey, heavy and tired sensations in legs.
Compression Therapy at The Nest
Here at The Nest we offer fittings for medical grade compression stockings, including maternity specific compression stockings. Stockings come in knee high, thigh high, or a full pantyhose option. There are a few colours to choose from – black, navy blue, caramel, anthracite, or cranberry.
Use of compression stockings along with massage therapy and lymphatic drainage treatment can be a great way to manage the symptoms discussed above.
Please note it is always important to check with your doctor, midwife, or primary care provider before starting compression therapy. Your care provider can give you a prescription for medical compression garments when necessary.
Some insurance companies will cover medical grade compression stockings with a prescription from your doctor or midwife. Check with your insurance provider to see if you have coverage. We do not provide direct billing for medical compression, but a receipt will be provided, which you can submit to your insurance provider for reimbursement.
What people are saying:
“These are the most comfortable compression stockings I have ever worn. They are soft, breathable, and really help my swelling when I go for walks or am out in the garden”
“My compression stockings really help with that ache that I would often get at the end of a long day standing. And I barely notice I’m wearing them!”
Mendoza E, Amsler F. (2017). A randomized crossover trial on the effect of compression stockings on nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. International Journal of Womens Health. 2017 Feb 22. doi:10.2147/IJWH.S120809. ecollection 2017. PMCID: PMC5328173.
Sim Lim, C., & Davies, A. H. Graduated Compression Stockings. (2014). CMAJ, 186(10): E391-E398. doi:10.1503/cmaj.131281
Xiong, Y., & Xiaoming, T. (2018). Compression Garments for Medical Therapy and Sports. Polymers 10(6), 663. https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10060663