How To Put On Compression Stockings

Because yes, as I waddle into my third trimester low blood pressure has crept up on me, so we’ve had to pay an arm and a leg for invest in a pair of compression stockings, which of course weren’t covered by our health insurance is a sound investment, health is important and all that, especially when you’re pregnant. I don’t really have a choice anyway after the incident yesterday morning, when our usual morning trip up three flights of stairs to the Old Flat had me sucking weakly on a glucose sweet for fifteen minutes while sitting on the floor with my head between my knees in case I actually passed out, and my boyfriend panicking about how ghastly pale I was under my freckles (and I’m Irish, I must have been white as a sheet).

I have had minor blood pressure problems before, usually linked to mental health issues, but I’m proud to say I’ve never actually fainted (not sure why I’m proud of that, I guess I’ll take any reason to be proud of my body, even stupid ones). I suppose it’s a good thing my old demons Depression and Anxiety are more or less leaving me alone right now, otherwise I’d have more serious problems than being unable to tackle stairs.

We’d already ordered the compression stockings. I wanted open-toed pale-skin-coloured ones so I could continue wearing sandals (it’s been hot in Belgium lately) but the only open-toed ones available were caramel, and my legs will only ever be caramel-coloured if I pour actual caramel on them, so we got the black closed-toe stockings instead (Really Pale wasn’t available in closed toe version either). We could have waited ten days for the ones I wanted, but my mother-in-law’s wedding is tomorrow and I don’t want to steal her limelight (or break my record) by fainting during the ceremony.

So after trawling around the entire shopping center for a dress that would a) fit, b) go with black closed-toe compression stockings, and c) probably still be wearable after I’d given birth (and I could rant about how the only shop with a maternity section somehow thought it wise to put said section on the second floor with no escalator, but I won’t), we picked up the compression stockings, and while Future Papa was out food shopping (I still can’t do supermarkets), I put them on.

Ha. Haha. I “put them on”. Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Like putting socks on when you don’t have several extra kilos of uterus-and-baby blocking the way between your hands and your feet. To give you an idea of just how easy this feat was not, here is an image of the “aid” some people buy to help them do it:

Ten points if you can guess how this works just by looking at it.

I do not have one of these, so I had to manage using just my hands and far too much muscle and brain power to ask of a pregnant woman in the middle of summer. Nevertheless, after many trials and thorough reading of the instruction manual (which is about the same size as the one for my laptop), I did it, and because I am a generous, giving person, I decided to write these –

Improved Step-By-Step Instructions For Putting On Closed-Toe Compression Stockings While Pregnant.

  1. Buy compression stockings. Grumble a little over the price. Turn down shopkeeper’s special offer on weird contraption pictured above, scoffing. It’s only stockings, for godssakes. They’re just oversized socks.
  2. Get home, take stockings out of box. Groan. They’ve given you the wrong size. These look like they might fit a four-year-old. Call shop. Get confirmation that they are, in fact, supposed to be that size. Turn down shopkeeper’s special offer on contraption pictured above, but start having doubts.
  3. Try to put foot in stocking using foot-on-opposite-knee technique you’ve been using to put on ordinary socks. Fail. Stare critically at stocking foot. It is half the size of your foot. Perhaps, while measuring, they assumed you have normal-sized feet and not the kind of feet where you can borrow your boyfriend’s shoes. Consider ringing the shop again, but decide against it.
  4. Go get a drink of water. Put it on the table next to you. Settle down with instruction manual. This may take a while.
  5. Attempt to turn stocking inside out by putting hand inside of it and pulling. Rip open a hangnail. Curse. Suck finger. Go to bathroom and cut off the hangnail. Cut nails also, so they don’t damage your investment. Check cut hangnail for signs of bleeding. Reflect that you don’t feel ready for the pain of childbirth AT ALL. Return to your mission and try not to think about it.
  6. Manage to turn stocking inside out by repeatedly putting hand or fingers inside and pulling. Fiddle with stocking until all of it is inside out apart from the foot. Put foot on knee. Try to figure out where the stocking heel is. It just looks all black in there. Sigh, put foot back on the floor, fiddle with the stocking until only half of the foot is inside out. Find the heel. Put foot on knee.
  7. Scrunch up toes until they’re as small as possible. Attempt to put foot of stocking over toes. Drop stocking, kicking out leg and spilling your glass of water in the process. Curse. Clean up. Pick up stocking, which is soaked. Lay it over chair to dry, and repeat steps 6 and 7 with other stocking.
  8. Having finally managed to get stocking over toes, pull hard until it covers your heel. Realise the heel of the stocking is not over your heel, but over your ankle. Go back to instructions. Read “pull stocking over foot without tugging or twisting”. Throw instruction manual against the wall. Regret not being allowed to drink.
  9. Twist stocking anyway until the heel of it covers your heel. Feel it blocking all sensation in your foot, wonder if this is normal.
  10. Proceed to gently pull, tug, and eventually yank the stocking all the way up your leg. Unroll silicone bit until it sticks to your thigh. Whoop in delight, then collapse into your chair. By this time your other stocking has probably dried, so you’ll have to do it all again. Cry a little.
  11. Reflect that you have no dignity left anyway. Turn on camera and film yourself struggling with second stocking. Put on YouTube and make loads of money, possibly enough to pay for the goddamn things. And the contraption.

Seriously, I’ve been on YouTube and found absolutely no funny videos of pregnant women struggling to put on compression stockings, so if you want a return on your investment, you could totally be the first. If you quote my instructions, though, I want half the money.

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2 thoughts on “How To Put On Compression Stockings

  1. Haha, there really is an art to it! I’m right there with you with the compression stockings. Whatever you do: DO NOT put them in the dryer, they’ll stretch out a little after a couple of wears, and you’ll feel great in them, hopefully. The dryer makes this process so much harder because they shrink a bit.

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