Looking for Support

I'm going to turn away from politics for the moment and return to pregnancy. It turns out I have more semi-regular readers of this site than I realized, and many of you have been super helpful in recommending maternity wear options from bras to evening wear. I need your help again, especially if you are tall.

As you probably know, varicose veins are one of the sorry side effects of pregnancy, and I've got a couple painful blue bulges just above the knee on my right leg. The midwife at my obstetrician's office said that support hose would help, "but who wants to wear support hose in the summer?" Instead, she suggested wrapping an ACE bandage around the sore spot at night.

Unfortunately, this hasn't been very effective. Support hose really do seem to help, especially if I'll be standing all day. Here's the problem: I'm tall (a little over 5'9"), which means I'm already at the top end of most of the pantyhose sizing charts even when I'm at my normal weight. Trying to find support hose that fit has been a total nightmare. First of all, most of the hose in drug and department stores are of the "ultra sheer" or "regular sheer" variety (i.e., non-support, or, at best, "light support"). I've tried L'Eggs Active Support in size Q, but I had to cut the waistband to be able to breathe, and even then they're not very comfortable.

Yesterday afternoon I went to Strawbridge's (a department store here) and discovered that Hanes made a full support line called "Alive"... which only went up to 5'9" and 155 lbs. (my pre-pregnancy weight). I asked for help from the saleswoman ("do you have any support hose in plus sizes?") and was led to a single row of light support options from Hanes. The only option in my size was a pair with control top, but I bought them anyway. I was shocked to find that they just barely fit—despite the fact that I had 35 lbs. of leeway until the next size.

I checked online at drugstore.com to see if they carried any support hose. They do; namely, the Futuro line. It sounded wonderful: Full support, yadda yadda yadda. $28 seemed pretty steep for one pair, but if that was my only option...well, I guess I could swallow it. Unfortunately, it turned out to be not an option at all. Size XL (the biggest drugstore.com carries) doesn't even begin to cover the weight I'm at now.

When we went out for our walk last night, Al & I stopped at Rite Aid, and I again perused the hosiery options. I settled on a pair of L'Eggs Body Shapers capri pants in size XL (which, again, left more than 30 lbs. of leeway within the size range). I wore them today, and if I wasn't jaded about the weight ranges on hosiery packaging before, I am now. I could swear that these things were really a size S that had been mislabeled. Once I got them on (after a mighty struggle), I'm happy to report that the firm fabric was a total godsend for my veins. I never could have stayed standing as long as I did without them. The "tummy shaper" top was less kind to the belly, however, and it made sitting down nearly impossible. I also ended up waiting as long as possible to pee, because I knew that I'd have to get the damn things down—and worse, back up again.

So here's my question: Does anyone know of a support hose solution for tall, pregnant women? If you have any firsthand knowledge of the following brands, discovered during a Google search, I'd be interested in that as well:

  • Jobst Maternity Moderate Support Pantyhose ~ These seem incredibly expensive, and the sizing chart is the weirdest I've ever seen. I'm an XL at the thigh and hip (low end of the ranges), and an S at the ankle. I found a cheaper price for the mild support version of these hose on Amazon.com, but those have a different sizing chart—which I'm also having trouble figuring out—and it would mean ordering from Healthy Legs, a company that spams me regularly. No thanks.
  • Gabrialla compression support hose ~ According to the size chart I'm currently a Q, but as I've learned, if you're within 30 lbs. of a size border, you should get the next larger size. These don't seem to come in Q+.
  • Mediven Elegance ~ I think I'm a Medium in these, but since this sizing chart is so at odds with every other, I'm skeptical. Also quite pricey.
  • Delilah Maternity Pantyhose Moderate Compression ~ The sizing chart is pretty clear here, thank god, but again, it would mean ordering from Healthy Legs.
Posted by Lori in pregnancy at 11:12 PM on September 1, 2004


I'm so sorry Lori, but I had no experience with this during my pregnancy. I threw up for 9 months so I stayed in bed for 5 and basically wasn't on my feet very much. Once I could get up and around, I was really too big to do much comfortably. I can tell you anything you want to know about the dog mauling trial which I watch gavel to gavel in between puking... but alas that is not much help. good luck on your hose quest.

Posted by: Lori Herrington at September 2, 2004 7:24 PM

Hi again Lori,

I mentioned your troubles with a few of my mom friends and one who is a pharmacist suggested you try TED hose in mens sizes. You should be able to find them in a good pharmacy that carries surgical supplies.

good luck

Posted by: Lori Herrington at September 4, 2004 11:51 PM

Thanks for looking out for me, Lori!! I'll try to find the TEDs. I found a pair of Futuros at Wal-Mart ($16.97) in size Q, which seemed to cover my weight range. I'm trying them out today, and so far, so good. The reinforced heel is actually behind my ankle (I had to pull them up quite far to get the waistband over the belly), but the support is pretty good, and the lack of control top means only the waistband itself is snug. The only thing that's really bizarre about these things is the color: size Q apparently only comes in white and "beige" (which is really like more of a light cocoa). My legs are about 50 shades darker than the rest of me. ;)

Posted by: Lori at September 5, 2004 11:38 AM

I would also suggest wearing a support "high knee sock" that can be pulled over the knee area where your vein is troublesome.....like a surgical stocking so to speak......any medical supply has these, some pharmacies......as a fitness counselor and yoga teacher, and mom, you should try to avoid compression of the belly itself.....not a great thing as breath is already compromised! good luck with your quest, it's worth it to relieve the vericosity as it may sometimes lead to clotting post partum (not always, don't panic!) take care

Posted by: Stephanie at September 5, 2004 10:54 PM

Thanks for the suggestion, Stephanie. The problem I've found so far is that the veins in question are about 2" above the knee on the inside of my thigh -- and everything (including full hose) that I've tried squeezes *somewhere*. I'm a little afraid to try thigh-high support stockings, since those will end up squeezing right at the painful site or just above it. :(

Posted by: Lori at September 6, 2004 12:02 PM

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