Healthy Legs During Pregnancy
Are You Expecting?
Pregnancy plays a role in the development of varicose veins. Thirty percent of women pregnant for the first time, and 55 percent of women who have had two or more full term pregnancies develop varicose veins, according to a report by Swiss Medical Weekly. Women who are pregnant are also at a high risk for the development of a Deep Vein Thrombosis, known as DVT. One reason is due to the increased blood volume at full term. Additionally, pregnancy causes hormonal changes that increase blood coagulability, a measure of how easily blood clots. Wearing compression socks can help keep your legs healthy during pregnancy and beyond.
Common Leg Health Problems During Pregnancy
Venous disorders and leg health problems are among the most frequent medical conditions in North America. You may experience these conditions for the first time during pregnancy. For example, swollen feet, tired aching legs and a feeling of heaviness in the legs are among everyday symptoms that pregnant women may experience. These symptoms are especially frequent when:
- a history of varicose veins and venous disease exists in the family
- a venous condition was already present before the pregnancy
- the woman sits and stands for prolonged periods of time while pregnant
- the woman does not exercise regularly during the pregnancy, or
- the woman has had more than one pregnancy
Pregnancy and DVT
Women who are pregnant are at a high risk for the development of a Deep Vein Thrombosis, known as DVT. One reason is due to the increased blood volume at full term. Additionally, pregnancy causes hormonal changes that increase blood coagulability, a measure of how easily blood clots. The expanding uterus puts pressure on blood vessels, restricting blood flow from the legs and pelvis back to the heart. Slower blood flow increases the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis. The risk continues during the post-partum period until the woman’s hormonal levels return to their pre-pregnancy state.
Effect of pregnancy on the venous system
During pregnancy, many hormonal changes occur in the body that have a profound effect on the veins. Blood volume increases between 40 percent to 50 percent, while increased amounts of progesterone cause the vein walls to dilate and become less elastic.
5 Ways to Keep Your Legs Healthy During Pregnancy
- Avoid standing and sitting for prolonged periods. Remember, moving legs are healthier legs!
- Stay active. Frequent, moderate physical exercise (example: walking, swimming, hiking) is important to maintain healthy legs and helps you maintain an overall healthy lifestyle.
- Wear SIGVARIS medical compression hosiery. Compression hosiery and socks help promote blood circulation by improving venous blood return back to the heart.
- When resting (at night or during the day), lie comfortably with your legs slightly elevated.
- Avoid extended exposure to heat from sunbathing, hot baths, or the sauna. Excessive heat will cause your veins to dilate and may induce swelling.
Benefits of Compression Therapy During Pregnancy
Clinical studies show that graduated compression stockings are beneficial and should be a mainstay in relieving symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency during pregnancy and the post partum period. Graduated compression hosiery is the most effective way to prevent edema or swelling. It also alleviates leg pain and heaviness and contributes to prevent spider veins or varicose veins. When using compression hosiery, the compression should be graduated, with the strongest pressure at the ankles and decreasing as it goes up the leg. When you discover the benefits and comfort of compression stockings during pregnancy, you may want to continue wearing them for years after, and your legs will thank you for their improved health.
Wearing compression stockings during pregnancy prevents blood from pooling in the veins and reduces elevated heart rate in both mother and child. Additionally, compression stockings may reduce the risk of varicose veins, phlebitis, and thrombosis. Compression therapy also alleviates many common symptoms such as swollen feet and ankles or tired and achy legs.
SIGVARIS offers a wide range of stockings designed to promote women’s leg health during pregrancy. Our stockings are available in several textures, fashionable colors, and styles to match your needs. Consult your doctor to obtain a prescription for the appropriate SIGVARIS product and compression strength for your condition.
SIGVARIS products are sold in pharmacies, orthopedic stores, medical supplies stores, and other specialized stores.