Compression Therapy Maternity Care
Compression therapy stockings help mitigate risks associated with venous insufficiency prevalent during pregnancy. Compression therapy is designed to improve blood circulation naturally. The graduated compression works by massaging your legs, relieving swollen aching ankles and tired feeling in the lower body during the prenatal and postnatal period.
Compression garments are designed with highest compression around the ankle progressively decreasing up the calf and to the thigh. Correctly graduated compression is the key to improving circulation, naturally pumping more blood up the leg and to the heart with every foot and leg movement. This can be particularly helpful for circulation while traveling, reducing the risks of deep vein thrombosis.
There are varying degrees of compression and generally accepted standards are Class 1, therapeutic stockings that exert a graduated pressure of 15-20mmHg. The highest pressure starting at the ankle and decreasing at calf and thigh. Similarly, Class 2 therapeutic stockings exert a pressure of 30mmHg at the ankle decreasing to 20mmHg at the calf and thigh. It is recommended to seek a prescription for higher degrees of compression Class 3 and above. Most health funds offer Health Insurance rebates for TGA certified compression therapy stockings.
Over 40% of women suffer from varicose veins during pregnancy. To reduce the risk of conditions and relieve the stress associated with venous insufficiency and protruding varicose veins, maternity compression stockings are worn through early to post gestation period.
There are several contributing factors leading to an onset of venous ailments. Pregnancy increases the body blood volume. The increased level of the hormone progesterone has the effect of causing blood vessels to relax. Therefore, valves separate slightly and work less efficiently, allowing the back-flow of blood in the veins.
During pregnancy, the uterus presses against the major veins in the pelvic region and increases the pressure in the leg veins which are then subject to becoming varicose. Weight increases during pregnancy, which in turn increases the risk of venous insufficiency affecting the legs.
When standing, the blood vessels of both mother and uterus/placenta or foetus may suffer from a disorder. The improvement of the mother’s entire circulation, obtained through the use of compression stockings, can provide significant improvement of the baby’s pulse frequency.
Standing for a lengthy period of time can rarely be avoided by expectant mothers; the negative effects may not only affect the mother but also the baby. Hence, it is important to promote not only good circulation compression therapy but also prevention of venous insufficiency using TGA Certified scientifically graduated compression stocking.
There are cheap so-called “compression support” stockings that are simply not considered therapeutic. These products are easily identified. They are not clearly labelled with a compression rating. Sampling has found that cheap compression stockings usually start at as low a compression as 6 to 8mmHg. Support stockings are sometimes indicated in the first months of pregnancy, if there are no venous pathologies. However, the use of “support” stockings fail to achieve any meaningful benefit because this compression is either insufficient or incorrectly graduated and do not improve the venous return to the heart at all.
A family history of varicose veins increases the likelihood of varicose veins developing during pregnancy. The onset of varicose disease incidents increases by 70% in the first trimester. The use of Australian TGA certified compression stockings during early pregnancy is therefore important not only from a preventive and cosmetic perspective, but also for a positive and beneficial effect on the mother’s body as a whole.