Did you know that many women develop varicose veins during pregnancy? While a pregnant woman’s body undergoes many changes during this time, venous insufficiency is often overlooked. This is so common, in fact, that pregnancy is the most common cause of varicose veins in women. The key factors that lead to this are:
- As the uterus grows, it puts an increasing amount of pressure on the right side of a woman’s body, which, in turn, increases pressure in leg veins. As a result, it’s not uncommon for the veins in the legs to grow larger.
- Rising Progesterone levels relax blood vessels which interferes with their ability to maintain a smooth, regular, one direction flow.
Other key factors affecting varicose veins during pregnancy are genetics, being overweight, carrying twins or higher multiples, and occupational factors such as standing or sitting in one position for prolonged periods.
Read an earlier blog post from VasCare for a more detailed look at the causes of spider and varicose veins.
How to Prevent or Minimize Varicose Veins During Pregnancy
While varicose veins are common during pregnancy, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it. In fact, there are simple, everyday measures you can take to prevent or minimize varicose veins during pregnancy.
- Exercise daily – This seems basic, but finding ways to contract calf muscles (walking, jogging, etc.) is the best way to promote healthy circulation in your legs.
- Maintain healthy weight – Being overweight is one of the most common causes for varicose veins. You can counteract this by trying to keep within the recommended weight range for your stage of pregnancy.
- Elevate – Let gravity work for you! Whenever possible use a stool or box to elevate your legs on when you’re sitting.
- Don’t Cross Your Legs – Whenever you’re sitting for a long period of time, don’t cross your legs. Sitting this way could block circulation in your legs.
- Move Around – One of the best weapons against varicose veins is movement. Whenever you’re sitting or standing for a long time, take breaks often and move around. This will increase blood circulation and get your muscles working.
- Sleep on Your Left Side – Whenever possible, try to avoid sleeping on your right side. Sleeping on your left will decrease the pressure from the weight of the uterus on your inferior vena cava.
- Wear Graduated Compression Stockings – Compression stockings (also known as support hose) are tight at the ankles and get looser as they go up the leg. This promotes flow up the legs back to the heart and can help prevent swelling and worsening varicose veins. Bring a prescription to VasCare to get measured and fitted for a pair of stockings
There’s not a strict rule, but varicose veins developed during pregnancy often improve within a few months after giving birth. If they don’t get better, we can help. VasCare’s surgeons specialize in treating varicose veins, spider veins and other venous disorders.
Contact our vein specialists.