As if you need to add one more thing to the list of changes your body may experiences during pregnancy – there’s varicose veins. You’ve seen them – even if you don’t have them – those twisted, bulging, swollen veins most often found on the legs. They are far from pretty but the good news is they are usually harmless. So why is it that so many women notice the surfacing of varicose veins during pregnancy? Let’s take a closer look!
During pregnancy, the volume of blood in a woman’s body increases substantially putting pressure on the veins to transport the increase in blood. In addition, during pregnancy, levels of the hormone progesterone rise causing the walls of blood vessels to relax. This relaxation can make it harder for the vein valves to keep blood flowing in the right direction. If valves don’t work correctly, the blood may pool causing, the vein to become inflamed or varicose. Another contributing factor during pregnancy is as the uterus grows, it puts pressure on the large vein on the right side of your body known as the inferior vena cava. This causes even more pressure within the leg veins creating the perfect storm for a varicose vein to emerge.
Here are some tips to reduce your risk or sooth existing varicose veins during pregnancy:
- Sleep on your left side. Since the growing uterus is causing increased pressure in the large vein on the right side of the body, it makes sense to rest on the left side to relieve this added pressure.
- Stay active. Regular physical activity is the best way to promote good circulation throughout the body and overall good health during the pregnancy. Talk with your physician about specific exercises and frequency appropriate for you.
- Put your feet up. Elevating your feet above the heart for 10 to 15 minute intervals allows gravity to naturally work to alleviate any pooled blood in your legs. In addition, take frequent breaks if you are standing or sitting for extended periods of time and try to shift your weight periodically when standing.
- Watch your weight. You’re expected to experience weight gain during pregnancy, but strive to stay within the recommended weight range for your stage of pregnancy.
- Wear support stockings. Mild support stockings or compression garments that are tighter at the ankle with a gradual decrease in compression up the leg help to redirect blood back to the heart. Talk with your physician about an appropriate grade of compression for you during your pregnancy.
- Take your vitamins. Your physician has probably gone over in depth with you about recommended vitamins to take during pregnancy. A balanced pregnancy diet can help to keep your veins and the rest of your body healthy.
Many varicose veins that appear during pregnancy will subside within a few weeks after delivery. If you are expecting and begin to experience varicose vein symptoms such as a hardening of the vein that is painful or warm to the touch, call your physician. If you have experienced varicose veins during pregnancy, odds are they will pop up again during future pregnancies.
If you have concerns about your symptoms or your varicose veins have not subsided within a few months of delivery, talk with your physician or schedule a consult with Premier Vein Clinics in Knoxville to see if you could benefit from treatment.