Mamas on Bedrest: Care for your legs to prevent blood clots

May 23rd, 2014

Greetings Mamas!!

TGIF and Happy Memorial Day weekend! This weekend marks the official start of summer in many areas of the northerm hemisphere. As promised, below you will find resources for taking great care of your legs to prevent blood clots from forming while on bed rest. I am giving a HUGE shout out to Mama on Bedrest Sarah for posing the following question to me on our community Facebook Page:

“Any suggestions as alternatives for compression stockings? I can’t do anything that increases abdominal pressure but can’t afford the compression stockings. I do get up several times a day but only to get water and use the bathroom. But I’m still worried about dvt.”

This is a FANTASTIC question and one that all Mamas on Bedrest should be concerned about. Pregnancy in and of itself increases a woman’s risk of developing a blood clot in her legs due to elevated levels of estrogen which enhance blood clotting. (Same thing they worry about when women are on the pill!) Add in bed rest inactivity and Mamas on Bedrest are prime candidates for deep venous thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots to form in the legs and then travel to the heart, lungs or brain to do deadly damage.

Sarah was prescribed compression stockings and that is an excellent recommendation-except they are expensive. Compression stockings can cost anywhere from about $80 on up. They are typically only available by prescription. So what is Sarah and other Mamas like her to do?

1. Exercises. I produced an entire video blog showing how to do leg exercises on bed rest as well as how to massage the lower legs.

2. Massage. While rubbing your own legs is good, Oh much better it feels to have someone do it for you! If your partner is willing, have him/her gently massage your lower legs. (see vlog for details). If you have access to a prenatal massage therapist in your area, or a really good massage therapist who knows lymphatic drainage techniques, a professional massage would be even better!

3. Support hose. Now I can’t speak for other areas of the country, but it is heating up here in Texas and the thought of wearing compression stockings or even support hose is daunting. However, if they are lifesaving-what’s a bit of heat? Sarah mentioned that she could not afford the compression stockings. However, she could do the next best things and wear support hose. These do place a bit of a squeeze on the legs, but not nearly the amount of pressure Compression stockings do. Hence, they are cheaper. Good brands that I know of are Gold Toe and Jobst. I highly recommend ordering products from Special Addition Maternity and Nursing boutique here in Austin if you can’t find products in your locale. They have an entire online shop and you can actually call and they can help you get fitted OVER THE PHONE!!! They can tell you (or a friend or family member) how to measure your legs and then help you select products that will suit your needs and purse!

4. Drink plenty of water. Contrary to what you may be thinking, Staying hydrated will actually help reduce swelling. You body won’t feel like it needs water and hold onto water so tightly (i.e. swell). Also, lowering or avoiding salt altogether is also helpful.

5. Make sure your prenatal supplements are really working for you and your legs in particular. Leg cramps, restless legs and blood clots are all very common during pregnancy. When you have the proper balance of vitamins and minerals in your diet, you are less likely to experience these leg problems or you will experience them to a lesser degree. To avoid leg cramps, restless leg syndrome and blood clots, make sure you have plenty of the following nutrients in your diet:

Calcium. Calcium aids in muscle relaxation allowing certain molecules into your muscle tissue.

Magnesium. Like Calcium, magnesium also aids in muscle relaxation and works in concert with Calcium. Many vitamins will include both minerals either in a 2 to l ratio (Calcium to Magnesium) or will have the minerals present in equal amounts.

Vitamin D. Vitamin D aids in calcium absorption as well as decreases overall inflammation that may be occurring. While many prenatal vitamins contain vitamin D, few if any meet the newly suggested requirements of up to 4000IU recommended by the March of Dimes and the Institute of Medicine for pregnant women.

Fish Oils-Fish oils contain essential Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids which help prevent blood clots. However, if you have any sort of clotting disorder or bleeding disorder, you may need to avoid this supplement. Check with your doctor to see if it is safe for you to take fish oils.

Was this information helpful to you? If so, let me know in the comments section below. Do you have other tips and solutions to leg problems during pregnancy? Submit those in the comments section below as well. If you have specific questions, feel free to e-mail me at info@mamasonbedrest.com. If you want to discuss more, you can schedule a Complimentary 30min Bedrest Breakthrough session. 

Be well Mamas and Happy Memorial Day (In the US!!)

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