You’re pregnant, and chances are friends have told you that varicose veins will soon start climbing up your legs – and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Your friends are wrong. You might get varicose and spider veins during your pregnancy, but there are steps you can take to prevent them, minimize them and recover quickly when your baby is born.
First, let’s discuss the cause of varicose veins during pregnancy
Your blood supply increases dramatically when you get pregnant, which increases the pressure within your circulatory system. At the same time, an increase in the hormone progesterone works to relax your vein walls. You’ll be gaining weight, of course, and for some people that also contributes to the formation of varicose veins. In addition, as your uterus grows, it bumps against a large vein on the right side of your body called the inferior vena cava. When that gets squeezed, it increases the pressure in your leg veins.
The where and what of varicose veins during pregnancy
You will probably first notice the veins in your legs bulging and turning blue or purple. They may cause no discomfort, or you might find your legs feel achy and heavy. The skin around the vein might throb, itch or give you a burning sensation.
Varicose veins can appear in other places, too. If they grow around your anus, they are called hemorrhoids. They might also appear in your vulva and cause discomfort. A form called spider veins are very small blood vessels near the surface of the skin. They show up most often in your legs, ankles and face. They don’t hurt and you can expect them to disappear after the baby is born.
These tips will help Pregnancy & Varicose Veins
- Discuss your family history with your doctor. Varicose veins and a related but rare condition called deep vein thrombosis, which leads to blood clots, are often inherited. If you know that a relative had these issues during pregnancy, your doctor can plan accordingly.
- Exercise every day, following your doctor’s advice, to promote healthy circulation.
- Weight gain is a factor in varicose veins. Research the recommended weight ranges for each stage of your pregnancy.
- Don’t stand or sit in one place for long periods. Take breaks and move around. (This is good advice whether you’re pregnant or not.)
- When you do sit, don’t cross your legs or your ankles.
- If possible, put your legs and feet up on a stool when you sit. When you lie down, put a pillow under your feet to elevate them.
- Avoid hemorrhoids by drinking plenty of fluids and adding fiber to your diet.
- Do not wear tight stockings or socks, but do consider special support hose that help to squeeze the blood in your legs back toward your heart.
These steps will help make your pregnancy as easy and as enjoyable as possible. If you notice symptoms of varicose veins or have questions, talk to your health provider.
If you are pregnant and have symptoms of varicose veins, give us a call at 203-426-5554 to schedule a consultation.