When I was pregnant, my feet and ankles swelled up horrendously! My once slender ankles had turned into the dreaded cankles and my feet were so bad that I could poke them, and a noticeable dent would remain for some time. Now, I work in the compression industry and - girl, let me tell you, I wish I knew then what I know now. Looking back, I wonder why my doctor didn’t recommend compression stockings or leggings to me.
Swelling is a completely normal part of pregnancy, but what causes it? During pregnancy, the body produces about 50% more blood and body fluids. This additional blood and fluid causes swelling or edema and can affect the hands, face, legs, ankles and feet. The body needs the extra retention of fluids to soften the body and allow it to expand as the baby develops. And, if it makes you feel any better, this extra fluid accounts for around 25% of the weight gained experienced during pregnancy.
So how can you reduce swelling while pregnant?
- Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time. If you sit most of your day, get up and walk around. Just getting up from your desk and moving around a bit will help. If you stand most of your day, make sure to take breaks and sit.
- Elevate your feet by putting them up and relaxing
- Rest or swim in a pool. Swimming and other water exercises are great for alleviating swelling
- Wear comfortable shoes, don’t wear high heels if you don’t have to!
- Drink plenty of water. This helps flush the body to reduce retained water.
- Avoid salty foods
- Get moving with gentle exercise - any kind of exercise will help get those fluids moving again.
- Wear compression!
That brings us to what compression is and what your options are. First, compression stockings (or compression leggings, tights and panty hose) apply graduated pressure to your leg which affects the leg’s surface veins. This pressure helps to increase the fluid flow to the deep veins for better circulation and relief from swelling. The level of compression is measured in millimeters of mercury or mmHg and is a range of graduated compression that is applied to your ankle. This means that the compression will be the most snug at your ankle and looser at your calf and thigh. Most women will want to start at a 15-20 mmHg level - but your doctor may advise you to increase the compression level. Even if you don’t have swelling, Deep Vein Thrombosis, or DVT can be a concern during pregnancy as is the development of spider and varicose veins. Wearing compression socks while pregnant can help prevent all of these.
Now let’s look at the best compression socks to relieve swollen feet and ankles during pregnancy - and, even better, they blend fashion and function. As any woman who has been or is pregnant will tell you, looking good and feeling good is a struggle, but we can help!
RejuvaHealth has a variety of options for maternity as well as some that aren’t specifically for those who are pregnant but are sure to help you keep your style and ankles intact!
Pregnant or not, I don’t know any woman who doesn’t love a good pair of leggings! The RejuvaWear leggings come in both footless and stirrup styles. They have 15-20 mmHg of graduated compression making them fashionable, slimming and supportive all at the same time. Side panels on the torso allow for added space so your bum is lifted instead of squished. One of the best parts is these leggings is they are not see-through! Hands down one, these are one of our best sellers.
The Sigvaris Women’s Soft Silhouette Leggings are another great legging choice. They feature a foldable, comfort-stretch waistband that you can leave up to cover your bump or fold over, if that is your preference. They are made from soft, stretchy microfiber that provides 15-20 mmHg of graduated compression. I have long legs, so finding leggings that fit well and don’t gape at the crotch is typically a struggle, but not with these!
Sigvaris offers Sheer Fashion Maternity Pantyhose in Natural or Black as well as Soft Opaque, only available in black - these are a bit more like tights. Both have compression level options of 15-20 mmHg and 20-30 mmHg to relieve tired, aching legs, swelling and help prevent varicose veins. Double-covered inlay microfiber yarn keeps you comfortable but also allows the pantyhose to easily glide on and off.
Mediven also has two options for pantyhose; the Comfort Maternity Pantyhose and Sheer & Soft Pantyhose. The Comfort line comes in Ebony or Natural and a range of sizes and are more on the opaque side. Since pregnant women tend to run hot, these feature ClimaComfort fibers to assist with temperature control to keep you cool and fresh. If you want something more sheer, try the Sheer & Soft Pantyhose which are also available in Ebony or Natural and a range of sizes. These are infused with Mediven’s Silver Plus to prevent bacteria from multiplying and to wick moisture. As these are sheer, they are a bit delicate, so use care when donning and washing. Both of the maternity options from Mediven have an adjustable waistband too for the mama-to-be!
Sometimes when you are pregnant, the last thing you want is something on your belly. If that is how you are feeling, we have a wide range of knee highs from sheer to fully opaque, and subtle to wow!
One customer favorite is the RejuvaKneeHigh, these gorgeous sheers are available in fun, feminine, floral or dot patterns. The floral is available in black with 15-20 mmHg of graduated compression while the dots are available in black, buff (light beige) and ash (light gray) and come in two levels of graduated compression: 15-20mmHg and 20-30 mmHg.
If sheer isn’t your style, we have options to accent any wardrobe from stripes to houndstooth and camo to argyle and more! All knee highs are available in 15-20 mmHg with some also available at the moderate 20-30 mmHg level of graduated compression and are latex free.
We would love to hear how compression has helped you during your pregnancy, let us know in the comments. Even more than comments, we love to see how people style their RejuvaHealth compression so be sure to follow us on Instagram @RejuvaHealth and tag us in your post!