Tucked in Tight: Compression Wear in Pregnancy

By Lindsey Johnson
Closeup of woman in blue swimsuit holding pregnant stomach

There are many physical changes that happen during pregnancy. Despite the obvious ones, there are others that you may not yet know about. Being prepared can help you know what to expect and what to do to ease the aches and pains.

A 2016 study revealed that one of the physiological changes associated with pregnancy is a 50% increase in blood volume as well as hypercoagulation of blood, meaning it clots more easily in preparation for delivery. Nemours KidsHealth also indicates that the extra fluid in the body as well as the increased pressure from the growing uterus can cause swelling in the feet and ankles Another common pregnancy symptom is round ligament pain, as the body produces hormones that cause ligaments to become loose and stretchy, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

These changes sound fun, don’t they? No need to worry—there are some remedies that can help alleviate the discomfort, like compression wear in pregnancy!

Pregnancy belts

Round ligament pain, a growing uterus and being on your feet can make back and belly pain a real nuisance. A compression pregnancy belt can help alleviate some of the pressure on the pelvis by supporting the extra weight of your belly. Round ligament pain is most common with a shift in position, so pregnancy belts can be especially useful for mamas-to-be who are on the go! The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) also reports that wearing this type of support during provider-approved exercise, particularly in the third trimester, can help with back pain and discomfort.

Choose a belt with a soft material that won’t irritate the skin, particularly if you are sweating. You can also wear it over a light layer of clothing, such as a camisole. The belt should provide support but not be too tight. Use it during periods of greater activity or when you might be standing for a longer period. Allow for breaks in use when you are sitting, resting or doing minimal activity.

Compression stockings

A common complaint among pregnant women is the light swelling and discomfort in the feet and ankles. While minimal swelling is considered normal, contact your provider if swelling is severe, only occurs on one side or is accompanied by other symptoms.

For routine swelling, pregnancy compression wear like stockings or socks may help, particularly if used from the start of the day before fluid has the chance to accumulate. Compression socks can help reduce swelling, minimize varicose veins (another common pregnancy side effect), improve circulation and relieve aches and pains.

Compression socks are particularly helpful during travel to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or developing blood clots in the leg. If you’ll be sitting for long an extended period in a car or plane, compression socks can help minimize the risk.

You can find over-the-counter compression socks in sporting goods stores or online. They come in a variety of compression levels. The sock should be snug and supportive but should not be cutting off circulation or cause numbness or tingling in the extremities. There are also prescription socks available, ask your provider for details.

You can wear compression socks throughout most of the day. However, you do not usually need them overnight as the feet are elevated. The swelling may continue up to six weeks postpartum, so wearing the socks after delivery may be comforting.

A tip from Giggle

Before purchasing any compression wear for pregnancy, talk to your provider about your concerns to rule out anything more serious. Compression wear is not recommended for everyone, so seek permission from your provider first, especially if you have underlying conditions such as diabetes or peripheral vascular disease.

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