Varicose Veins & Pregnancy: 7 Simple Steps to Reduce Your Risk
As a pregnant woman, you are going to experience many changes in your body.
However, on top of your growing belly, one often unexpected change is the development of varicose and spider veins.
It’s not an uncommon side effect in pregnancy. In fact, about 10-20% of pregnant women develop varicose veins in their second or third trimester.
A varicose vein can appear as bulging aching blood vessels appearing on the surface of your legs.
Though they may seem like an eye-sore to your smooth legs, they are generally harmless and fade away after giving birth.
Keep your legs looking healthy and flawless! Read more to know about varicose veins during pregnancy and how you can easily prevent them.
What’s Causing Your Varicose Veins While Pregnant?
With healthy blood circulation, the deoxygenated blood (blood that has already delivered the essential nutrients) flows through a one-way valve system. These venous valves function to bring blood back to your heart.
When these valves aren’t functioning properly, the blood can begin to pool in the veins.
This causes the veins to become enlarged, twisted, and overfilled. In other instances, they may appear like tiny, thin, and bluish veins called spider veins.
Varicose veins may occur more for those older than 50 years old, are overweight or obese, or have had previous leg injuries.
However, they can also occur in pregnant women due to the following reasons:
Increased Blood Volume
It’s normal for pregnant women to have an increased blood volume to support the growth and development of their babies.
The increase in the volume of blood causes a strain in the venous walls, which leads to a varicose vein in the legs.
Your pregnancy hormones (progesterone)
Hormones are to blame for the many changes in a woman’s pregnant body.
For example, your body produces more progesterone to support a healthy environment for your developing baby.
On the other hand, it also causes the veins in your leg to relax and dilate.
Increased pressure from the uterus
As your baby develops, it pushes your internal organs (including the blood vessels) in your abdomen.
This increased pressure from your upper body leads the blood down to the pelvic veins. As a result, there may be insufficient blood flow in your legs.
7 Easy Steps to Prevent Varicose Veins During Pregnancy
Fortunately, pregnancy-related varicose veins do not pose much risk to you and your baby. These veins will usually start to shrink once you’ve given birth.
Until they do, here are some things you can do to minimize your risk and their appearance.
1. Elevate your legs when resting
Pregnancy on its own is quite a marathon. So whenever you have the time, you should relax and unwind.
And when doing so, keep your legs elevated whenever you are resting to relieve the pressure on your lower body.
2. Sleep on your left side
To prevent varicose veins, you want to support healthy blood circulation in your legs.
Sleeping on your left side can help support the pressure and circulation of your main blood vessels.
3. Be active and avoid sitting for long periods of time
Exercise does wonders for a pregnant woman. Not only do you get stronger in preparation for birth, but it can also reduce your risk to get varicose veins.
A long walk, low-impact workouts, prenatal yoga, and swimming can all help keep the blood flowing and help you stay fit throughout your pregnancy.
It’s also important to keep moving and avoid prolonged periods of sitting or standing.
4. Avoid wearing high heels and tight clothes
Your pregnancy is already adding pressure to your veins, so make sure your clothing doesn’t contribute to it.
During this time, forego clothes that bind, and opt for clothes (and shoes) that are loose and comfortable.
5. Use compression stockings or support hose
Tight clothes might not be a good idea during pregnancy, but compression stockings and support hose can help keep the varicose veins at bay.
When worn snug, but not tight, they can help counteract the downward pressure caused by your growing baby and give your veins in your legs a boost.
6. Keep an eye on your weight
Gaining weight during pregnancy is natural and healthy, but gaining too much weight isn’t.
Not only can it cause health problems for you and your baby, but it can tax your already overworked circulatory system and cause the appearance of varicose veins.
Talk to your doctor about how much weight you should expect to gain during pregnancy.
7. Watch what you eat
Nutrition is critical during the time of your pregnancy. Whatever you eat can have an impact on the development of your baby.
However, watching your diet has more benefits than that. Following a low-salt diet while pregnant can reduce your risk of varicose veins as well.
In addition, make sure you eat your fruits and veggies regularly to get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals to help support and maintain your blood vessels.
What You Need to Know About Varicose Veins During Pregnancy
The tips we just shared are preventative remedies you can do to lower your risk of getting varicose veins.
Unfortunately, their development can be inevitable sometimes. If you do end up having varicose veins, know that they’re only temporary.
If you develop varicose veins with your pregnancy, the best thing you can do is to find ways to manage the aches, pains, and other related symptoms with compression stockings, medications, or massages.
Do They Go Away?
In most cases, varicose veins will eventually fade away 3 to 4 months postpartum. For some, it may take even longer, but they usually go away on their own without the need for treatment.
It’s important to note that varicose veins can be hereditary in nature. So if you have a mom or sister who has varicose veins, your risk of having them may slightly be higher.
In addition, if you did have varicose veins in your first pregnancy, you can expect the same to happen in the next ones.
How to Get Rid of Varicose Veins:
There are surgical options available to treat varicose veins. However, it is not a recommended procedure during pregnancy.
Most doctors advise pregnant mothers to wait it out and be patient since they become less noticeable postpartum.
If you do want these bulging veins removed, wait a few months after giving birth until you consider surgical treatments.
Varicose veins are bulging swollen veins that show up on the surface of your legs. Pregnant women often encounter this condition due to hormonal and blood volume changes.
Although common and harmless, they can pose an inconvenience to a soon-to-be mom. Fortunately, there are preventative remedies that can lower your risk of having them while pregnant.
When Should You Tell Your Doctor
Although developing varicose veins during pregnancy is common, and generally a benign condition, it can be associated with blood clots and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
If your varicose veins have become bothersome to your pregnancy, get in touch with us so we can find an efficient treatment plan for you.
If you notice the appearance of varicose veins, talk with your healthcare provider, or contact a member of our team at vispdocs.com, or by calling 928.771.8477.
Vascular & Interventional Specialists of Prescott was formed in 2010 by a group of subspecialty radiologists that perform numerous minimally-invasive, low-risk procedures using the tools of our trade for guidance—x-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI. The team’s goal is to educate patients and medical communities, while also providing safe and compassionate health care, with rapid recovery times and low risk of complications.