Are your lower legs roughly the size of tree trunks now that you’ve fallen victim to the horror that is pregnancy swelling? Do they ache and throb at the end of a long day?
If so, I feel your pain. One of the worst things about pregnancy for me was the swelling and achiness in my legs. The horrified looks from my concerned family and friends when they saw my giant, misshapen legs didn’t help either.
If this sounds like your life right now, keep on reading to find the best maternity compression stockings on the market.
Quick ComparisonOur Top Maternity Compression Stocking Picks of 2019 Read Full Reviews
What Are Compression Stockings?
Compression stockings are basically like tall, stretchy socks that fit really snugly. They’ll feel tight when you put them on, but that’s what you want them to feel like.
Lots of people wear compression stockings for a variety of reasons, including (1):
- Pregnant women.
- Elderly people.
- People with a high risk of forming blood clots.
- People with circulation problems.
- People who recently had surgery.
- Workers who are constantly on their feet.
Choosing the Best Compression Socks
Before you buy compression stockings, you first have to decide upon which kind you want. There are three basic models you’ll have to choose from.
- Knee-high socks: If you can’t stand the idea of doing more than putting on a pair of knee-high socks with your giant belly in the way, this is the option you should go for. These are also a great choice for moms who have most of their swelling in their lower legs.
- Thigh-high stockings: When you don’t want stockings riding up over your belly but you want something to help fight veins and that tired feeling in your upper legs, thigh-high compression stockings might be your best friend.
- Full-length stockings: When socks or stockings won’t do, you can opt for compression leggings instead. Leggings are riding high in the fashion world right now and they can be dressed up or down. So they are perfect for pregnant women because they are so versatile.
Each provides its own particular benefits.
Knee-high stockings help only control swelling and pain in the ankle and the calf regions. Thigh-high stockings do that as well, but they also help with most of the thigh area too.
Meanwhile, full-length compression stockings do that too, in addition to helping with back pain. But before you race out and buy this type of stocking, remember that if they cover that much territory, they’re going to be much more problematic to put on than the shorter ones are.
Keep in mind that you’ll have a giant belly in your way as you bend, stoop, and struggle to tug these bad boys on.
How Much Compression Should I Go For?
Compression stockings are assigned numbers that show what their level of compression is. The lower the number, the less compressive they are.
Pregnant women should opt for one of two different levels of pressure.
- 15-20mmHg: You can purchase stockings with this level of compression with a prescription. They are easy to find and will be firm enough to combat minor swelling and varicose vein issues. As an added perk, they’ll be easier to get on than the next kind will be.
- 20-30mmHg: These can be difficult to get on because of the level of compression. But it’s the type to go with if you’re having a lot of swelling or bad varicose vein pain.
Your doctor or midwife can prescribe the right compression for you and you can actually have stockings prescribed to you. Compression stockings can help prevent lightheadedness by promoting good perfusion. Compression stockings are only worn during the day, 12 hours on /12 hours off.
Editor's Note:Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC
The Best Maternity Compression Stockings of 2020
The first time I noticed the web of tiny spider veins on the back of my knees, it really got me down. Compression stockings were something I’d always assumed were for older people, but the more my pregnancy progressed the more I realized that I needed a good pair of compression stockings. I’m glad I got over my initial reluctance — the relief and comfort was almost instant!
1. Preggers Footless Maternity Compression Leggings
You’ll get two pairs of compression leggings with this set — one black, which will go with everything in your wardrobe, and one coal, which is neutral enough also to match many shirts.
Fashionista moms will appreciate how stylish these leggings look. They’ll be able to feel sleek and sexy while their legs are getting some much-needed TLC.
Because they are footless, you can wear them with any kind of shoes, including sandals or flip flops.
The graduated compression leggings have 10-15mmHg of light compression. These leggings also provide some light belly support.
2. Laite Hebe Compression Socks
These socks have a smooth heel and toe area so you won’t be aggravated by having seams rub against your foot.
You’ll get three pairs of socks in this package and you’ll have several color selections so you can find something that goes with every outfit. With a compression level of 15 to 20 mmHg, these will offer enough light support to keep you more comfortable throughout the day.
These are lightweight and breathable so your foot won’t get all uncomfortable and sweaty. They offer 360-degree stretch so it will feel both flexible and durable.
3. ToFly Thigh High Compression Stockings
These compression stockings supply 20-30mmHg of gradient compression. If you hate the sensation of thigh-high stockings sliding down on your legs, you’ll be happy to know these have a silicone band to help keep them up.
The toes are open which means your toes don’t have to be compressed with your legs, which can be a relief to moms who hate the feeling of having cramped toes.
Since you might be a sweaty mess during your pregnancy, these are a good pick because they have sweat absorbent properties and are anti-bacterial as well and the open toe can keep you cooler.
4. Ames Walker Maternity Compression Pantyhose
These pantyhose have closed toes and you can wear them under your clothes. They’ll work with dresses or under pants if you don’t want anyone to see you’re wearing pantyhose.
The closed toe design comes with reinforced heels and toes so they are extra durable. They have compression of 20-30mmHg.
As your baby bump gets bigger, you’ll be covered because it has an expandable tummy panel that will grow with you. Although these are pantyhose, they do hold up really well, lasting week after week.
5. MGang Thigh High Compression Stockings
These graduated compression thigh-high stockings give a lot of pressure at the ankles before easing up some at the calf and even more at the thigh. The stockings offer 20-30mmHg of compression.
These are soft and comfortable to wear, even all day long. They are breathable and will absorb moisture if you start to sweat.
Because of a silicone band at the top of the stockings, they won’t slip or slide down your leg. Plus silicone shouldn’t cause itchiness or scratchiness on your leg.
6. MadeMother Maternity Compression Socks
Moms who like a more substantial sock may like these. They’ll be warmer so they’d be a good winter option.
They use graduated compression which may help moms who have one particular problem spot. They use 25-30mmHg at the foot and ankle, 15-20mmHg for the calf and mid-leg, and 10-15mmHg right under the knee.
They are easier to take off than some other kinds because of the thicker material. The toe box has extra padding to help you feel pampered and more comfortable.
7. BeVisible Sports Maternity Compression Socks
These socks provide 20-30mmHg of graduated compression. Because they have open toes, they’ll work better for moms who may get foot aches or cramps from having compressed fabric on their toes. It will also make the socks more comfortable for women who have abnormally-shaped feet.
They have a wide anti-slip band at the top of the stocking that will stop these from falling down as you go about your business during the day.
8. MDSox Graduated Compression Socks
These graduated compression socks offer ventilation and moisture-wicking so your feet won’t feel hot and sweaty. These socks go up right beneath the knee and stay up really well because of the amount of pressure they give. But unlike some compression socks, they don’t pinch your skin behind your knee.
They aren’t as slick as compression stockings so there will be no need to wear extra socks over top of these.
If you are a mom who had bigger calves before pregnancy, these socks do come in larger sizes.
9. Thermafirm Light Footless Support Tights
You’ll get 10-15mmHg of compression with these footless support tights. The compression will be the most in the ankle area and will decrease slightly as the tights go up your leg. That will leave the least compression around the belly area, so it shouldn’t be too tight around your stomach. These may be better for the first and second trimester.
The tights have a high waist so they’ll be less prone to slipping and so they’ll hit your belly in a comfortable spot. Because they are footless, you’ll be able to wear them with sandals or flip flops if you want.
10. Lemon Hero Thigh High Compression Stockings
These are graduated compression stockings that provide 20-30mmHg of compression. They are an open-toe design meant to be more comfortable and to keep the air circulating better on your foot.
It has a silicone band at the top of the stockings to help keep them in place. That will help prevent curling and slippage. After all, it can be tough enough for pregnant women to get these things in place when they’re getting dressed in the morning. You don’t want to have to spend the rest of the day tugging them back into place.
Are Compression Stockings Safe During Pregnancy?
Moms are still moms even when they only have a baby in their belly instead of in their arms. So as a mom, they are always worried about the health of the bun in the oven.
The good news is that compression socks are not only safe for use during pregnancy, but they can feel amazing when you wear them. That means your legs don’t have to suffer needlessly during pregnancy. Good blood perfusion for you means good perfusion for your baby.
You should start wearing them early on in your pregnancy for full benefit.
Benefits of Compression Stockings During Pregnancy
Compression stockings during pregnancy can make your legs feel and look better. They’ll reduce the swelling you have, which will make you feel better about your appearance.
What moms-to-be really love about compression stockings is how they make their legs feel better. They can greatly reduce that sore and achy feeling. They can also help keep spider veins and varicose veins from forming and make the pain from them lessen.
Another benefit of wearing compression stockings is that it can reduce your risk of getting a blood clot since the blood is moving through your veins instead of pooling in there. During pregnancy, you have an increased risk of blood clots, including deep vein thrombosis.
The risk increases during pregnancy and after delivery due to (2):
- Fluctuating hormone levels and blood composition.
- Slower blood flow in the mom-to-be’s legs because of the weight of the fetus.
- Vein injury during vaginal delivery or C-section.
- Bed rest and increased inactivity after delivery.
Some women are at greater risk than others during pregnancy, including women who:
- Are obese.
- Have a history of blood clots.
- Have a family member who has had blood clots.
- Are older than 35 years of age.
The increased risk of blood clots remains throughout pregnancy, goes up after delivery, and goes back to the original risk weeks after your baby is born. Women who have C-sections are at an increased risk compared to women who gave birth vaginally.
How Serious Is a Blood Clot?
Not all blood clots are life-threatening, but they should be taken seriously.
A blood clot may form and not pose a threat, this is called a thrombosis. The risk is when it breaks off and becomes an embolism (a blood clot) which is life-threatening. It can travel through the body to areas like the lungs, heart, or brain.
In America, embolisms kill between 100,000 to 300,000 each year (3). So you should do anything you can do to prevent a blood clot from forming.
How Can I Reduce My Risk of Blood Clots?
It’s always better to prevent blood clots than to treat them once they’ve developed. If you’re worried about developing blood clots during pregnancy or after labor, wearing compression stockings is a good start at preventing them (4).
Other things you can do to lessen your risk of blood clots in addition to wearing compression stockings include:
- Staying hydrated by drinking enough fluids.
- Walking around every hour or two while flying or taking a road trip.
- Staying active unless you’re on bed rest. Even then doing leg exercises can help prevent blood clots.
The Bottom Line
Compression stockings aren’t fun to put on during pregnancy, but your legs will thank you for it. Just remember, your pain will be temporary, but your love for your child will last forever.
How do you wear your best compression socks and stockings? They’re not exactly high-glamor, but if you know some cute and clever ways to style them, we’d love to hear about it in the comments!