If you’re pregnant, you may have noticed some new bulging veins on your legs. Varicose veins are common in pregnancy, affecting up to 40% of women. But you don’t have to suffer in silence. There are ways to manage and cope with pregnancy-related varicose veins.
Varicose veins are swollen, twisted veins that are visible just under the skin. They can occur anywhere on the body, but they’re most common on the legs and feet. Varicose veins are caused by weakened valves and veins, which can’t push blood back up to the heart as effectively as they should. This causes blood to pool in the veins, leading to swelling, discomfort, and sometimes pain.
During pregnancy, your body produces more blood to support your growing baby. This extra blood puts pressure on your veins, making them work harder than usual. In addition, the hormone progesterone relaxes the walls of your veins, making them more likely to stretch and bulge. Finally, as your uterus grows, it puts pressure on the veins in your pelvis and legs, further contributing to varicose veins.
Varicose veins can cause a range of symptoms, including:
- Bulging, twisted veins
- Swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet
- Pain or aching in the legs, especially after standing or sitting for long periods
- Itching or burning around the affected veins
- Discoloration or darkening of the skin around the veins
1. Stay Active
Regular exercise can help improve circulation and reduce the risk of varicose veins. Walking, swimming, and low-impact aerobics are all great options. Avoid exercises that put too much strain on your legs, like running or jumping.
2. Elevate Your Legs
When you’re sitting or lying down, prop your legs up with a pillow or two. This can help reduce swelling and improve blood flow.
3. Wear Compression Stockings
Compression stockings are tight-fitting socks or stockings that help support your veins and improve circulation. You can buy them at most drugstores and medical supply stores.
4. Avoid Crossing Your Legs
When you sit, try to keep your legs uncrossed. Crossing your legs can restrict blood flow and make varicose veins worse.
5. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight can put extra pressure on your veins and make varicose veins worse. Aim to maintain a healthy weight throughout your pregnancy.
6. Stay Hydrated
Drinking plenty of water can help improve circulation and reduce swelling. Aim for at least 8-10 glasses of water a day.
1. Are varicose veins dangerous?
Most varicose veins are not dangerous, but they can be uncomfortable and unsightly. In rare cases, they can lead to more serious complications like blood clots or ulcers.
2. Will varicose veins go away after pregnancy?
Varicose veins may improve after pregnancy, but they may not go away completely. Some women may need treatment after pregnancy to reduce their symptoms.
3. Can I prevent varicose veins during pregnancy?
While you can’t completely prevent varicose veins during pregnancy, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. See the previous section for tips.
4. Can I still wear high heels if I have varicose veins?
Wearing high heels can make varicose veins worse by putting extra pressure on your veins. It’s best to wear comfortable, supportive shoes instead.
5. Do I need to see a doctor for varicose veins?
If your varicose veins are causing you pain or discomfort, or if you’re concerned about their appearance, talk to your doctor. They may recommend treatment options like compression stockings or surgery.
6. Can I still have a vaginal delivery if I have varicose veins?
Most women with varicose veins are able to have a vaginal delivery. Your doctor will monitor your veins during labor to make sure they don’t cause any problems.
7. Will breastfeeding make varicose veins worse?
There is no evidence that breastfeeding makes varicose veins worse.
8. Can I fly while pregnant if I have varicose veins?
It’s generally safe to fly while pregnant, but if you have varicose veins, you may be at higher risk for blood clots. Talk to your doctor before flying and make sure to get up and walk around the cabin every hour or so.
The good news is that most cases of varicose veins during pregnancy are mild and don’t require medical treatment. With a few lifestyle changes, you can manage your symptoms and feel more comfortable.
- Avoid tight clothing that restricts blood flow
- Avoid standing or sitting for long periods
- Try not to gain too much weight during pregnancy
- Stay active throughout your pregnancy
- Don’t rub or massage your varicose veins, as this can make them worse
If you’re pregnant and dealing with varicose veins, know that you’re not alone. Varicose veins are a common pregnancy symptom, but there are ways to manage and cope with them. By staying active, wearing compression stockings, and taking other precautions, you can reduce your symptoms and feel more comfortable throughout your pregnancy.