In general, women are twice as likely as men to develop varicose veins. One of the most common times for this to happen is during pregnancy when their hormones are changing and the baby is growing. Here’s what you need to know about managing varicose veins while pregnant.
Why Are Vein Problems Showing Up Now?
Varicose veins are a result of venous insufficiency, or the inability of veins to properly circulate blood. There are lots of factors that contribute to the development of varicose veins during pregnancy. Some of these include:
- Changing hormones: As a woman’s body prepares to give birth, the chemicals and processes within are thrown into flux to accommodate the baby’s growth. This can bring about changes in blood flow and make the vein walls softer and unable to work properly, which can lead to varicose veins.
- Uterus pressing: As the baby grows, the uterus expands. When it does this, it tends to press on the veins that take blood back to the heart. The veins become restricted or blocked as a result and inhibit blood from flowing properly. This can lead to veins becoming twisted, enlarged and varicose.
- Increased blood volume: When a woman is pregnant, the amount of blood her body produces to nourish the baby increases. When veins have more blood to circulate, they may begin to work less effectively, leading to varicosity.
Varicose veins usually show up in the legs during pregnancy, but can occur in other parts of the woman’s lower body. These veins have a tendency to cause the lower body to ache, throb or cramp, though they are unlikely to lead to other problems unless the varicosity doesn’t go away postpartum.
What To Do About Varicose Veins During Pregnancy
One of the best ways to manage varicose veins during pregnancy is to practice preventative measures so they’re less likely to show up. These measures will also help treat varicose veins if they do show up. Here are some simple steps you can take:
- Regularly try to keep the legs propped up while seated or resting. This will help the blood in your legs flow more smoothly and efficiently back to your heart. Keep the legs in line with or just above the hips, if possible.
- Move around more often. Getting daily exercise, even just a fifteen minute walk, will improve your circulation and discourage the development of varicose veins.
- Avoid wearing tight clothing on the lower half of your body. Tightness in the lower body, particularly during pregnancy, is a major risk factor for developing varicose veins. It’s also a great excuse to wear comfy shoes all the time during pregnancy!
- Sleep on your left side. This will help relieve the pressure that’s on your veins from the pressing of the uterus.
- Wear compression stockings. Compression technology encourages better circulation and assists the blood with rising up the legs and back to the heart. It can prevent blood from pooling in the legs, which causes varicose veins.
Varicose veins developed during pregnancy usually go away within three months to a year after birth. If they don’t, seek help from a medical professional, as this may be evidence of a deeper issue.
We’re Here To Help!
We want to help ensure that your pregnancy is as comfortable and healthy as possible. We offer custom Sigvaris compression stocking fittings in our office to work towards this goal. That way, you can get the worry of varicose veins and painful legs off your mind and enjoy this stage of life to the fullest. Contact us to make a step towards a healthier pregnancy and vein health.