Even if you’re lucky enough not to be perennially swollen during your third trimester (or earlier!), chances are you will experience some swelling at one point or another. Postpartum swelling is also common as IV fluids administered during labor and delivery need to go somewhere and the easiest place is your feet and hands. When I was dealing with this I opted to put my legs up a wall for 20 minutes and dry brushed my legs and feet. I didn’t often get puffy, but when I did it was always related to not drinking enough, being out in the sun too long, the aforementioned IV fluids and either walking too much or being too sedentary. One thing I didn’t try was wearing compression socks – mainly because it was peak summer – but had I spoken to Dr. Gbolahan Okubadejo, a New York City area spinal and orthopedic surgeon while pregnant, that certainly would not have been the case! I’ve since become a convert even though the swelling has subsided and plan on wearing a pair of STOX next month on my first post-pregnancy international flight (I love that they break their compression socks into categories like “recovery” or “travel”).
Read on to learn more about the potential benefits of compression socks during and after pregnancy.
Momtastic: What are the benefits of compression socks during pregnancy?
Dr. Gbolahan Okubadejo: One benefit of compression socks during pregnancy is that it helps manage the increased swelling that comes with being pregnant. The socks gently squeeze the leg, which relieves discomfort. Compression socks also improve circulation. Blood typically is pumped down your body to your feet and then back up from your feet to your heart. During pregnancy, however, blood flow is interrupted. The socks reduce the diameter of the leg’s blood vessels, which in turn assists in increasing blood flow from the feet back to the heart. Women also experience increased hormones during pregnancy, which leaves them at risk for varicose veins and blood clots and wearing compression socks helps prevent the development of both.
Momtastic: Any benefits post-pregnancy?
Dr. Gbolahan Okubadejo: The symptoms are similar to the swelling that occurs during pregnancy. After giving birth, women may experience postpartum swelling due to excess fluid remaining in the body. Also, caring for a newborn is hard work and is likely to keep you on your feet for extended periods of time, leading to foot swelling. Additionally, all of the benefits of compression socks during pregnancy can also apply to post-pregnancy.
Momtastic: Anyone who should not use them?
Dr. Gbolahan Okubadejo: Compression socks are OK for all pregnant women, however, it is crucial to wear the correct size. If compression socks are too tight, redness and irritation can occur.
Momtastic: When and for how long should women wear them?
Dr. Gbolahan Okubadejo: Women should start wearing compression socks at the beginning of their pregnancy. However, the intense swelling usually begins around four months. I recommend women put on them on at the beginning of the day and keep them on until they are ready to sleep. If you happen to take your compression socks off during the day, wait until to put them back on the following day.
Momtastic: Any tips for finding the best pair? Any specific brands you recommend?
Dr. Gbolahan Okubadejo: When looking for a peair of compression socks, definitely pick out the most comfortable ones. I recommend the Physix Gear Compression socks for pregnancy because they are known to be highly comfortable. They are also effortless to put on regardless of them being tight compression socks. Additionally, these socks maintain their compression abilities after being washed.