Compression Stockings In Pregnancy
As your pregnancy progresses, you've probably learned to accept that your feet and ankles will always be swollen by the end of the day, your nightly leg cramps will routinely wake you up and those varicose veins may just be unavoidable. While all of these discomforts of pregnancy are normal, what if you could stop or even prevent them just by wearing pantyhose?
Compression stockings are not your typical pair of nylon stockings. A medically accepted way to treat a host of leg discomforts,compression stockings is a great alternative to surgery when it comes to relieving minor to major leg issues. Problems like swelling tend to plague pregnant women.
Most leg problems are due to poor circulation since your blood and veins need to work against gravity to get the blood back up to your heart. During pregnancy, though, your expanding belly, coupled with the extra pressure your baby puts on your body causes your veins to dilate and work much less efficiently.
Support stockings work by promoting circulation and the return of blood back up to your heart through the venous system. They apply gradual amounts of pressure to your leg, with the most compression occurring at your ankle and lessening the further up the leg you go. While compression hose may sound similar to a tensor bandage, it is not the same thing. In fact, using a tensor bandage to relieve swelling or leg pain may actually make the problem worse by cutting off your circulation completely.
Compression hosiery treat a variety of problems, including:
- Leg cramps
- Varicose veins
- Swelling or edema
- Leg pain
- Prevention of deep vein thrombosis (blood clots)
Do You Need Them?
You may need compression stockings if you have:
- A tired, sore or heavy feeling in your legs
- Leg pain from regularly sitting or standing for long periods of time
- Ankle or leg swelling by the end of the day or if you suffer from edema
- Numbness or a tingling or burning sensation in your legs and/or feet
- Skin discoloration
- Varicose or spider veins
- Family history of vein problems
Support hose come in a variety of compression ratios, allowing them to treat mild to major leg problems. You can also purchase them in a variety of styles, including knee-highs, thigh highs, pantyhose, maternity pantyhose and travel socks (commonly recommended for use on flights). Stockings are often sold individually since it is not unusual to only need one compression stocking.
Compression stockings are recognized as a medically accepted device. Therefore, many insurance companies will cover the cost of the stockings as long as you have a doctor's prescription. Although support hose are a much cheaper and more convenient form of treatment compared to surgery for varicose veins, they are typically much more expensive than regular pantyhose. Depending on the strength and style of hose you buy, prices can range anywhere from $30 to more than $100.
While you may think it is silly to get a prescription for pantyhose, if your leg problems are particularly bad, you will need to have a prescription to get the stockings in the first place. Only stockings with the lowest compression ratio are available without a prescription.
Getting it Right
Once you have your doctor's note, you will need to get fitted to make sure the support hose you buy is the right size. Wearing an ill-fitting stocking can result in exacerbating the problem. If you are buying your compression hosiery on-line, then you can do the measurement yourself. Most sites will have a size chart and guide to measuring your ankle, calf and thigh to make sure you have the right fit.
Compression stockings are not meant to be worn to bed. However, it's a good idea to keep them on your nightstand since they need to be put on first thing in the morning when you wake up, before you even get out of bed. Although support hose are meant to help your circulation, improper use can cut off your circulation and lead to further complications. If you notice any swelling in your leg or foot below the lowest point of the stocking, remove the stocking and report the swelling to your health care provider.
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