Pregnancy & Those Problematic Varicose Veins
Although pregnancy can be a happy and fulfilling time, there are definitely some downsides to being pregnant and the onset of varicose veins, or even spider veins, is one of them. If you have aching pain, easily tired legs that feel heavy and look swollen as well as some numbness and itching or an irritated rash on your legs, you may well be suffering from this condition.
But catch these symptoms earlyAnd practice lots of preventative measures and you could just be lucky and stop those varicose veins in their tracks.
- Rest frequently. Your growing uterus is putting additional pressure on the veins in your lower body. The blood flow can then become strained causing larger swollen veins in your legs as well as the vulva and rectum areas. Increasing hormones also relax the walls of your veins as well as the ligaments and joints in your body. The more you can rest, the less pressure you apply to your veins.
- The different ways you sleep can be important. The largest vein in your body is the vena cava and it is on the right side of your body. If you sleep on your left side, you will decrease the pressure on the vein which carries the largest amount of blood through your body.
- Keep your feet elevated as much as you can. Sit with your feet propped up on a table or chair and when you sleep, slip a pillow under your feet. This all helps to increase the blood flow.
- You might not like the idea of maternity support hose but they can be very beneficial. Remember to put them on before you stand up after you get out of bed in the morning. I know it makes you sound like an old lady but this will prevent blood from gathering in your lower legs. If the weather is hot, you are going to find maternity hose uncomfortable but then varicose veins themselves would be even more uncomfortable.
- Exercise frequently as this will increase the blood flow and improve your circulation. A short brisk walk for 15 minutes can help keep your cardiovascular system functioning properly. Try to sit without crossing your legs to prevent the restriction of blood flow to your legs. Take a break with your feet elevated or move around if you have to stand for any length of time.
- Then there are Kegel exercises. Tighten the vaginal muscle and hold for 20 seconds. Do this at least 5 times per session several times per day. These exercises are great for preventing hemorrhoids which are basically varicose veins of the rectum.
- Weight gain does not help varicose veins so do you best to keep within the recommended weight range for your stage of pregnancy.
- A low salt diet which is rich in high fiber food will reduce the risk of constipation. This in turn will reduce the risk of varicose veins and hemorrhoids. This diet should include fresh fruit and vegetables and lots of whole grains like bran.
If you are pregnant and have varicose veins, look out for
- A small percentage of moms-to-be with varicose veins develop small blood clots in the veins near the skin surface. Known as superficial venous thrombosis, if this happens the vein may feel hard and rope-like and the surrounding areas may be red, hot, tender or painful. It is wise to tell your doctor or midwife.
- A more serious condition is called deep venous thrombosis (DVT) where clots occur in the deep veins in the legs but it is not common. With DVT there might be no symptoms at all or you could experience sudden, painful swelling in the ankle, leg or thigh with a fever. Such a clot would need hospitalization and medication to thin the blood as left untreated, it could be dangerous.
The good news about being pregnant with varicose veins
This is that they often improve within 3 months of giving birth. So during this time, keep up with wearing support hose, exercising regularly, elevating your legs and avoiding standing or sitting for too long. If after 3 months, your varicose veins do not improve, become too uncomfortable or look unsightly, then look into the various varicose vein treatment options. There will be a treatment to suit you.
How are varicose veins treated? (2014, February 13)
nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/vv/treatment. (Accessed, Feb 15, 2021)
Joh, J. H., Kim, W.-S., Jung, I. M., Park, K.-H., Lee, T., Kang, J. M., & Consensus Working Group. (2014, December). Consensus for the treatment of varicose vein with radiofrequency ablation. Vascular Specialist International, 30(4), 105-112.
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4480318/. (Accessed, Feb 15, 2021).
Varicose veins and spider veins. (2017, January 4)
womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/varicose-veins-and-spider-veins. (Accessed, Feb 15, 2021).