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Most people think of compression socks as something that older adults wear. But when you’re pregnant — especially as you get further along — compression socks become your BFF, helping relieve painful swelling in your legs and feet.

So when you should opt for compression socks, and what are the best options for pregnancy? Let’s dive in.

If you’ve never shopped for compression socks, you might be at a loss for picking the right level of compression for your achy pregnancy legs. To select our top picks, we focused on the following features:

  • gentle compression
  • ease of putting on
  • customer reviews
  • price

Pricing guide

All of these socks come in at less than $35, with the majority under $20.

  • $ = under $20
  • $$ = $20–$35
  • $$$ = over $35

Best budget-friendly compression socks

Charmking Compression Socks

  • Price: $
  • Material: nylon
  • Pressure level: 15–20 mmHg
  • Sizes: small/medium or large/extra large

These socks come in an affordable three-pack that features the recommended 15 to 20 mmHg of compression. There is a wide range of patterns and colors to choose from, giving you the freedom to stay stylish right down to your socks.

Pros

  • reasonably priced and come in a pack of three
  • come in a variety of colors and patterns
  • available in two sizes

Cons

  • offer only one level of compression

Best easy-on compression socks

Lemon Hero Zippered Compression Socks

  • Price: $
  • Material: spandex, nylon, and Lycra
  • Pressure level: 15–20 mmHg or 20–30 mmHg
  • Sizes: medium, large, extra large, 2X, 3X, 4X, 5X

Compression socks are notorious for being difficult to put on. But Lemon Hero created a workaround with an open-toe design that relies on zippers to safely and comfortably get them up and around your calves. Rather than rolling them up, you can simply slip your feet into them and zip them up. They also have a zip guard to protect your legs from getting pinched.

Pros

  • designed to be easier to put on
  • zipper won’t pinch your legs as you put them on
  • available in a wide selection of sizes

Cons

  • some people may not like the feeling of wearing open-toe socks

Best fashionable compression socks

Comrad Knee-High Compression Socks

  • Price: $$
  • Material: nylon (some also contain recycled cotton and spandex)
  • Pressure level: 20–30 mmHg
  • Sizes: small, medium, large

Comrad’s compression socks come in chic colors and subtle patterns, so you can feel fashionable while wearing a pair.

They also contain antimicrobial elements in the fabric to keep odors away. After all, you’re likely wearing them multiple days — so no judgment if you don’t wash between wears. If sustainability is a priority for you, Comrad also makes a line of compression socks from recycled cotton.

Pros

  • come in a variety of colors
  • antimicrobial features are designed to help limit odors
  • company makes a line of sustainable sock if you’re interested in an eco-friendly option

Cons

  • only come in a striped pattern, so if you prefer solid-color socks, they may not be appealing

Best copper-infused compression socks

FuelMeFoot Copper Compression Socks

  • Price: $
  • Material: nylon, polyester, and copper fiber
  • Pressure level: 15–20 mmHg
  • Sizes: small/medium or large/extra large

Not everyone wants a pair of compression socks that screams boring and looks like something out of a pharmacy. The FuelMeFoot Copper Compression Socks are stylish and effective — score! You can opt for simple black or one of the brand’s louder prints. We also like that these knee-highs feature mild compression and infused copper ions to help reduce odor.

Pros

  • they’re knee-high, so they provide a lot of coverage
  • include copper ions that the company claims will help reduce odor
  • designs don’t look like something from the pharmacy

Cons

  • come in only two sizes

Best patterned compression socks

Aoliks Compression Socks

  • Price: $–$$
  • Material: nylon and polyester
  • Pressure level: 20–30 mmHg
  • Sizes: small/medium or large/extra large

Channel your inner ’80s child with three pairs of brightly patterned compression socks that are totally tubular. These graduated compression socks feature 15 to 20 mmHg but a lightweight weave, so they’re good for any time of year and for those who prefer to spend most of their time outside.

Pros

  • the light weave is good for year-round and outdoor use
  • come in a variety of fun patterns and prints
  • offer graduated compression

Cons

  • the light weave is great for warmer climates but could feel too thin for colder ones

Best splurge-worthy compression socks

VIM & VIGR Cotton Compression Socks

  • Price: $$$
  • Material: cotton, nylon, and spandex
  • Pressure level: 15–20 mmHg
  • Sizes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (based on calf width, size guide available here)

While they’re the priciest option in our guide, these socks are super comfortable, so you can wear them all day. We especially appreciate that they roll on easily and come in lots of unique colors and patterns or simple black.

VIM & VIGR also offer medical-grade compression socks. The Montana-based company partnered with vascular surgeons to develop their compressions socks.

Pros

  • come in a variety of sizes
  • come in unique patterns as well as plain black
  • roll on easily

Cons

  • priciest option on our list

ProductPriceSizesPressureFabric composition
Wanderlust MadeMother Maternity Compression Socks$medium25–30 mmHg at foot and ankle, decreasing to 10–15 mmHg under the kneecotton and rayon
Charmking Compression Socks$small/medium or large/extra large15–20 mmHgnylon
Lemon Hero Zippered Compression Socks$medium, large, extra large, 2X, 3X, 4X, 5X15–20 mmHg or 20–30 mmHgspandex, nylon, lycra
Comrad Knee-High Compression Socks$$small, medium, large 20–30 mmHgnylon
FuelMeFoot Copper Compression Socks$small/medium or large/extra large15–20 mmHgnylon, polyester, copper fiber
Aoliks Compression Socks$–$$small/medium or large/extra large20–30 mmHgnylon, polyester
VIM & VIGR Cotton Compression Socks$$$1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (based on calf width) 15–20 mmHgcotton, nylon, spandex

In addition to choosing a gentle compression level, keep the following in mind when shopping:

Sizing

Compression socks have similar sizing to regular socks. You’ll find that they’re usually offered in lettered sizes that correspond with your shoe size. In our guide, the majority of the socks come in two sizes: small/medium and large/extra large.

Be sure to take a look at the company’s sizing chart before purchasing a pair of compression socks.

Comfort

The goal of any compression sock is gentle support and pressure. If your legs are being squeezed uncomfortably or the fabric is digging into your skin and leaving marks (ouch!), the compression is too strong. In this case, opt for a lighter compression level or skip these socks altogether. The socks should never be so tight as too cause numbness or tingling in your legs, feet, or toes.

Keep in mind: Although compression socks are designed for extended wear throughout the day, pregnant people usually aren’t advised to wear them to bed. It’s most likely safe, but typically unnecessary.

Ease of use

Normally, you can’t put compression socks on like you would a regular pair of socks. Most compression socks must be rolled onto your legs, much like you would a pair of pantyhose. Keep this in mind, as leaning over and rolling on a pair of socks or stockings will become significantly harder as you reach the end of your pregnancy!

Some brands offer pull-on styles that include zippers — a great alternative during pregnancy!

Cost vs. value

Compared with regular socks, compression socks cost significantly more. But even in our guide, you’ll find that some brands offer multipacks, while others can only be purchased as single pairs.

While you might not need compression socks early in your pregnancy, there’s definitely a case to be made for safely wearing them as you reach the end of your second trimester and throughout your third trimester. Compression socks can help do the following:

Reduce swelling

Considering that your body produces about 50 percent more blood when you’re pregnant, it’s not surprising that you might have swelling from all of that extra fluid. And this can translate to pain or discomfort.

Compression socks or stockings can help reduce swelling in the legs due to gentle squeezing. They can lessen discomfort, especially if you’re on your feet all day.

Compression levels

Normally, compression socks tend to come in five compression levels (measured in a unit of pressure):

  • 8–15 millimeters of mercury (mmHg)
  • 15–20 mmHg
  • 20–30 mmHg
  • 30–40 mmHg
  • 40–50 mmHg

The smaller the compression level, the lighter the effects. You’ll note that all the socks in this guide fall within the 15–20 mmHg range, which is good for many people wanting to relieve swelling and leg aches. They’re also best if you plan on wearing them for prolonged periods.

However, you may benefit from 20–30 mmHg compression if you have more moderate swelling. If you have severe swelling, chat with your physician or midwife before opting for a higher compression level.

Improve circulation

When you’re pregnant, changes in your hormones can make your blood more likely to clot and lead to other conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This risk is also increased because your growing uterus can put more pressure on your veins. But compression socks can help prevent blood clots by helping prevent your blood from pooling in your lower legs and feet.

Relieve aches

A common complaint during pregnancy — especially as people get further along — is that their legs are constantly sore or achy. By improving circulation, compression socks can also help ease aches and pains.

Minimize varicose veins

Varicose veins — the dark purple or blue veins that show up on your legs — occur when the valves in your veins aren’t working properly. They’re a common side effect of pregnancy. But compression socks and stockings are designed to improve circulation and help minimize or prevent the appearance of varicose veins.

Pregnancy comes with a lot of bodily changes that often can’t be avoided. Swelling is one of those things that’s generally part of the pregnancy experience.

Swelling should be fairly mild overall, though. It may worsen toward the end of your pregnancy, in the second and third trimesters, as your baby grows.

However, there are times when swelling becomes abnormal and you should seek a professional opinion. These include:

  • significant swelling in your hands, face, or around your eyes that comes on suddenly or gradually worsens (could be a symptom of preeclampsia, a rare but dangerous condition)
  • when swelling affects only one leg (could be a symptom of deep vein thrombosis, an uncommon but dangerous condition)

There may be other conditions related to swelling during pregnancy, so if you ever feel like something’s off, or you’re concerned about any swelling, always feel empowered to reach out to a doctor.

When should you start wearing compression socks during pregnancy?

You can wear compression socks starting in the first trimester, but you may find a greater need for them during your second and third trimesters. Feet swelling is most common in the third trimester, as it becomes harder for your blood to travel back up your body.

How can I reduce swelling in my feet during pregnancy?

Later in pregnancy, the usual two-way street that is your blood flow — going from your heart to your feet and then back up — becomes a bit of a traffic jam. As it becomes harder for your blood to flow back up, your feet naturally swell.

But you don’t have to just live with it. Remedies for swollen feet include wearing compression socks, limiting sodium in your diet, eating more potassium, staying hydrated, and elevating your feet.

Can I sleep in compression socks?

The short answer is yes, but you may not need to. You’re more prone to swelling when you’re on your feet, so compression socks tend to be most beneficial when you’re standing and moving around. If you do try sleeping in compression socks, make sure they aren’t too tight—your toes and feet should never feel numb or tingly because of your socks.

There’s no reason to be in agony over painful swelling or achy legs. Compression socks or stockings can go a long way toward easing this type of pain during pregnancy, as long as you pick the right compression level and wear them correctly.