Compression therapy during pregnancy “The level of acceptance is good”
In Latvia, pregnant women are looked after by their family physician or by a certified midwife or gynecologist. Dr. Egils Gasins works at the Embrions Center of Reproductive Medicine, a Riga-based private clinic specializing in gynecology, obstetrics, and infertility treatment. He recommends medical compression stockings to many of his pregnant patients.
Dr. Gasins, how does pregnancy affect the veins?
Dr. Gasins: Pregnancy puts extra strain on a woman’s organism, including the leg veins. There are several reasons for this. For example, the increased level of the hormone progesterone, the main purpose of which is to make the tissue in the uterus more elastic, also causes the walls of the blood vessels to become slightly more stretchy, making them more prone to becoming deformed. At the same time, the amount of fluid in the body rises during pregnancy and more blood needs to be transported through the venous system. It is therefore essential to always keep an eye on a patient’s leg veins during pregnancy and, if necessary, prescribe compression stockings to improve the venous blood return.
When exactly would you recommend wearing compression stockings?
Dr. Gasins: For women who have already experienced vein problems prior to pregnancy or are genetically predisposed to them, I recommend wearing medical compression stockings as a preventive measure throughout their pregnancy and for two to three months after giving birth. And, of course, I recommend them as soon as symptoms such as pain or swelling in the legs arise during pregnancy.
How many of your patients suffer from vein problems during pregnancy?
Dr. Gasins: Around 50 percent of them, probably often those whose activities involve a lot of sitting or – quite the opposite – prolonged standing.
Do you find it hard to persuade your patients to wear compression stockings?
Dr. Gasins: No, the women are generally very open-minded and concerned about looking after their health. The level of acceptance for compression therapy is therefore good. However, in a country like Latvia, where patients have to pay high additional contributions for healthcare, it is sometimes difficult for them to raise the extra funds for this. Here even pregnant women have to pay for compression stockings out of their own pocket.
How important is the way the stockings look to women?
Dr. Gasins: The stockings currently available don’t look any different from conventional opaque stockings. The feedback regarding Bauerfeind’s compression stockings in particular has been very positive and they are highly rated by patients in terms of quality.
Do you give your patients any specific tips on wearing compression stockings?
Dr. Gasins: I advise them to put the stockings on first thing in the morning.
And it goes without saying that good skin care is important too.
Pictures: Bauerfeind, privat