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 on the legs. While not pretty, they are usually harmless.

However, varicose veins can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as swelling, cramping, aching, or throbbing—all of which can add to the physical toll of pregnancy. Unfortunately varicose veins and pregnancy can go hand in hand.

During pregnancy, the volume of blood in a woman’s body increases, which adds pressure on the veins that circulate the blood. In addition, progesterone hormone levels rise during pregnancy which can cause blood vessels walls to relax. This relaxation can make it harder for the one-way vein valves to keep blood flowing in the right direction. If valves don’t function correctly, the blood may pool and cause the vein to become enlarged, or varicose.

Another contributing factor during pregnancy is that as the uterus grows, it puts pressure on the large vein on the right side of the body known as the inferior vena cava. This causes even more pressure within the leg veins, adding to the risk of varicose veins to form.

To reduce your risk of developing varicose veins, or to soothe symptoms of existing varicose veins during pregnancy, follow these five tips:

Stay active

Regular physical activity, such as walking, promotes good circulation throughout the body and overall health during the pregnancy. Talk with your physician about the frequency and duration of specific exercises that are most suitable to your lifestyle.

Put your feet up

Elevating your feet above the heart for 10 to 15 minute intervals allows gravity to naturally circulate any pooled blood in your legs back towards your heart. 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

Any extra weight increases gravity’s pressure on your leg veins. Of course it’s expected that you’ll gain weight during pregnancy, but strive to stay within the recommended weight range for your stage of pregnancy.

Wear support stockings

Mild support, or compression, stockings are tighter at the ankle and gradually decrease in compression up the leg. The support improves circulation by helping redirect blood upwards to the heart. Talk with your physician about an appropriate grade of compression stockings for you during your pregnancy.

Sleep on your left side

Since the growing uterus is causing increased pressure in the large inferior vena cava vein on the right side of the body, try to sleep on your left side to relieve added pressure.

Take heart in knowing that many varicose veins that appear during pregnancy may subside within a few months after delivery. However, If you are expecting and begin to experience symptoms such as a hardening of the vein that is painful or warm to the touch, call your physician.

And if you have concerns about varicose veins symptoms such as painful swelling or aching that has not subsided within a few months of delivery, schedule a free consultation with Premier Surgical Vein Clinics in Knoxville to see if you could benefit from the latest minimally invasive, in-office treatments.

Premier Surgical Vein Clinics of Knoxville is conveniently located in our new facility at 6408 Papermill Drive, off exit 383. Call us at 865-588-8229, or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation today.