Benefits of medical compression stockings throughout pregnancy & after birth

This One-Pager reviews the effectiveness of medical compression stockings (MCS) against various signs and symptoms, throughout pregnancy & beyond. It is available for download in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese.

Pregnant woman with baby clothes

Pregnancy related signs & symptoms

  • Nausea and vomiting affect approximately 50% to 80% of women in early pregnancy (that is during the first trimester and early second trimester). Symptoms can be mild, or they can even require treatment and hospitalization (1). 
  • Leg signs & symptoms: Due to physiological changes, many mothers-to-be develop varicose veins over time. This can lead to chronic venous insuffi ciency, which is accompanied by leg pain, heaviness and edema. These symptoms usually worsen as pregnancy progresses (2)(3).
  • Venous thromboembolic events: The risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) increases during pregnancy and is at its highest in the three months after birth. If left untreated, DVT can lead to a pulmonary embolism (PE). VTE (DVT, PE) remain a main cause of maternal mortality in the developed world (4).
  • Maternal hypotension is a frequent complication following spinal anesthesia or epidural analgesia during birth. It may cause nausea and vomiting in the mother, and it can lead to fetal complications such as hypoxia, heart rate abnormalities, or acidosis (5).

MCS benefits throughout pregnancy and beyond

Nausea and vomiting

MCS (23-32mmHg) alleviate nausea and vomiting in trimester 1 and 2 (1).

Leg pain heaviness & swelling – varicose veins, venous insufficiency

MCS (15-20 mmHg) reduce leg pain and increase the quality of life (3).

MCS (20-30 mmHg) improve pain, edema and leg heaviness (6).

MCS (20-30 mmHg) decrease the reflux time and peak reflux velocity in the great/small saphenous veins (7).

MCS (20-30 mmHg) reduce the great/small saphenous vein diameters (6).

These effects can be observed throughout the whole pregnancy when wearing MCS. 

Venous thromboembolic events (DVT, PE)

For the prevention of venous thromboembolic events (VTE), MCS are recommended throughout the entire pregnancy up to six weeks after natural birth, or up to six months after a cesarean section (8).

Maternal hypotension

MCS (20-36mmHg) reduce the incidence of maternal hypotension following epidural analgesia during spontaneous term labor (5)(9).

MCS (20-30mmHg) worn during a cesarean section effectively reduce post-spinal maternal hypotension and neonatal acidosis (10).

Conclusion

Medical compression stockings provide multiple benefits throughout pregnancy and beyond:

  • Alleviation of nausea and vomiting (1)
  • Effective control of varicose veins and retrograde flow (6)(7)
  • Improvement of venous insufficiency signs and symptoms (3)(6)
  • Protection against VTE (DVT, PE) (8)
  • Reduction in maternal hypotension during birth (5)(9)(10)
  • Increase in quality of life (3)

Take-home message

MCS are recommended throughout the entire pregnancy (1)(3)(6)(7)(8) and childbirth (5)(9)(10) for up to six weeks after natural birth, or six months after a cesarean section (8). Because pregnancy-related venous indications may persist or worsen over time (3), SIGVARIS GROUP recommends the continued wearing of MCS post-pregnancy.