Varicose veins are swollen veins that bulge near the surface of the skin, most commonly found in the legs. Pregnant women are more prone to developing varicose veins because of the extra pressure on their blood vessels. This added pressure results from the increase in blood volume which is needed to support two growing bodies. The hormone progesterone, which has a vessel-relaxing effect, and the pressure exerted by the growing uterus on the pelvic blood vessels can also contribute to the development of varicose veins in pregnancy.
Many pregnant women may notice the signs and symptoms of varicose veins around their 29th week of pregnancy. These include cramps in the legs, itchiness, pain, large veins that are visible under the surface of the skin, discoloration around the affected site, and in some cases, mild swelling of the ankles and feet. Women with a family history of varicose veins may be at a higher risk of developing them during pregnancy.
Take Action to Help Prevent Varicose Veins
There are different ways to prevent or minimize the appearance of varicose veins. Pregnant women can try any of the following:
- Exercise regularly
A sedentary lifestyle can trigger or worsen existing varicose veins. Regular physical activity, like walking, can help as it improves blood circulation.
- Stay within a healthy weight range
With crazy cravings, it can be easy to gain weight during pregnancy, but excessive weight will only add to the problem. To help reduce the risk of varicose veins, it’s best for women to maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy.
- Elevate the legs and feet
Elevating the legs and feet can help alleviate pain and some of the symptoms associated with varicose veins.
- Try sleeping on the left side
The inferior vena cava is located on the right side. Sleeping on the left side can help decrease the pressure on the veins in the legs and feet.
- Wear support stockings
These support stockings are twice as thick as the typical pantyhose but provide enough compression for the blood to flow back up to the heart more easily. Wearing these stockings can help with swelling.
In many cases, varicose veins that develop during pregnancy improve after giving birth. However, there are some women who still live with varicose veins postpartum.
Premier Vein Clinics of Knoxville has experienced vascular surgeons who are experts when it comes to diagnosing and treating varicose veins. If you’re suffering from varicose veins after pregnancy, contact us today to schedule a free consultation and find out how we can help you gain your confidence back.