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Leg Health During Pregnancy

Leg Health During Pregnancy

Common leg health problems during pregnancy:

  • Swollen feet
  • Tired lower body
  • Aching legs
  • Heaviness in the legs

Symptoms can progress to:

  • Edema (swelling) in the lower extremities
  • Tension in the legs
  • Pain or cramping in the calves
  • Skin inflammation
  • Dry eczema
  • Weeping eczema

Causes of swelling in lower body:

During pregnancy, your body makes many changes to adapt and accommodate for the new life growing inside of you. Your body suddenly needs to supply blood for yourself and for your baby. Your blood volume increases significantly and this puts extra work on the heart and blood vessels. It is completely normal for women to experience pain or swelling in the lower extremities due to this increased blood volume. When you are pregnant, the baby puts pressure on a major vein called the inferior vena cava. This extra pressure could make it difficult for adequate blood to return from the lower body back to the heart also causing swelling or possibility of blood clots. Compression stockings can help with the pain associated with heavy, swollen legs and can enforce proper blood flow return to the heart.

How Compression Stockings can help:

Using compression stockings from the beginning of pregnancy is beneficial. It helps your body adapt and keep adequate blood flow throughout the body as your blood volume changes to accommodate new life. There are only positive side effects for you and your child. Compression stockings help prevent varicose veins and ease any pain associated with swelling in the legs.

How can you avoid negative impact on your leg health during pregnancy?

  • Avoid standing for long periods of time
  • Stay active before, during and after pregnancy: walk, hike, swim and cycle often
  • Actively use your legs as much as you can
  • Wear compression stockings (we recommend Sigvaris)
  • Avoid spending excess time in the sun as it can dilate your blood vessels
  • Cool legs often to prevent swelling
  • Lie comfortably with legs slightly raised to avoid blood pooling in your lower extremities

Julia de Reijke RKin, CSEP-CPT, BASc Kinesiology (Hons), DipFTHP

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