Varicose veins are an unwelcome side effect of pregnancy, rather like stretch marks. Many women develop varicose veins during pregnancy, so if one of them is you, there is no need to feel upset – you are not alone!
The good news is that although varicose veins don’t look so hot, they are not harmful. They can sometimes itch and feel hot, but once the baby comes along they often settle down and, sometimes, disappear. But, even if you end up stuck with unsightly varicose veins, there are plenty of venous disease treatment options.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Carrying a baby for nine months puts a huge strain on the body and your circulatory system is particularly vulnerable to stress. As the baby grows inside of you, your body has to make extra blood to support a second (or more) circulatory system. It is hard work pumping blood back up to the heart and blood vessels in the legs and groin sometimes fail.
There is also a genetic element to varicose veins, so if your mom has them, you are more likely to end up with them too.
Varicose veins may appear anywhere in the lower body, but they are most common in the legs and groin region. Many women suffer from hemorrhoids during pregnancy, which is, in fact, varicose veins around the anus.
Preventing Varicose Veins
You can’t always prevent varicose veins, but there are some self-help techniques you can try.
Try to avoid gaining too much excess weight. Pregnancy is not a time to start a diet or count calories, but eating for two is not recommended. Stick to healthy foods, as the more weight you gain, the riskier your pregnancy becomes. It is normal to gain around 30 pounds during pregnancy, but listen to your OB-GYN and take advice from them.
Keep moving as much as possible. Blood is less likely to pool in your lower body if you are reasonably active during pregnancy. If you have a desk job, resist crossing your legs and try to get up and stretch your legs as often as you can. Practice exercises at your desk, such as ankle rolls and leg raises.
Avoid wearing tight clothing, especially around your legs and waist. Apart from the fact that tight seams feel uncomfortable, especially during the last trimester, they will prevent good circulation and contribute to varicose veins.
Coping with Varicose Veins
Prevention tips are also valid once you develop varicose veins. Wearing high heels, sitting down for long periods, and carrying too much weight all make varicose veins worse.
Support hose can help ease varicose veins if yours are bothering you. Compression hose isn’t exactly sexy, but you can wear it under pants, and nobody will know.
Prop up your legs when you do sit or lie down to rest or feed the baby, as this helps blood circulation.
If your veins are painful or very unsightly, speak to your physician to see what your options are. Many doctors are happy to treat varicose veins because they have a tendency to ulcerate in later life.