What's The Link Between Varicose Veins and Pregnancy?

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Varicose veins are a common side effect of pregnancy, but one that few women are prepared for. Learn why they develop and how to ease your symptoms.

Most women are prepared for some of the more well-known side effects of pregnancy, like nausea and back pain, but they might not be aware of another common occurrence: varicose veins. These veins, which appear when the valves in your legs weaken and are no longer able to keep blood from pooling in your legs, affect around 10% to 20% of pregnant women. Despite that, varicose veins are frequently overlooked when discussing the ways your body changes during pregnancy.

Fortunately, varicose veins that appear during pregnancy frequently disappear on their own following delivery. They are usually painless and harmless and are simply another side effect of pregnancy. Understanding why and when they form — and some of the ways that you can ease their symptoms — can help you get a better grasp of your varicose veins both during and following your pregnancy.

Why Do Varicose Veins Appear in Pregnancy?

The extra volume of blood you produce during pregnancy is essential to support your growing child, but it also puts additional pressure on your blood vessels. That pressure, the pressure created by your uterus and general weight gain, and the vessel-relaxing effects of the extra progesterone your body is producing all come together to create a perfect recipe for the appearance of blue and purple varicose veins in your legs.

Varicose veins during pregnancy are typically hereditary, so unfortunately, there is not much you can do to prevent them. While these veins can develop at any time during your pregnancy, they tend to get larger and more pronounced as you get bigger. The good news is that after delivery, they will automatically shrink along with the rest of you.

Easing Your Varicose Vein Symptoms

Although varicose veins that appear during pregnancy are often painless and harmless and will go away on their own in the months following delivery, they can sometimes carry some of the same painful or uncomfortable side effects that come with standard varicose veins. To reduce that discomfort you should:

  • Keep your blood moving: Get off your feet when possible and keep your legs elevated when you’re seated. Flex your ankles occasionally and avoid sitting with your legs crossed.

  • Get moving: Exercise can help keep your veins from getting worse. Try taking several walks a day or engaging in some other form of low-key, circulation-increasing exercises.

  • Stay comfortable: Stick to clothes (including underwear) that fit well and aren’t binding, especially around the tops of your legs. Stay away from tight-fitting shoes and stiletto heels, as well.

  • Try compression stockings: The one kind of tight clothing that can be helpful is compression stockings, which can counteract the downward pressure of your stomach and give your leg veins a little extra upward push, offering temporary relief from your varicose veins.

Addressing Your Pregnancy Varicose Veins

Whether or not you’re experiencing painful symptoms, it’s a good idea to alert your doctor if you get varicose veins, even if you know they're a normal pregnancy symptom, just so they're aware of the condition. If your varicose veins are causing uncomfortable symptoms — or if they are lingering post-pregnancy — you should consider seeing a vein specialist.

At Center for Vein, our venous experts can help come up with a treatment plan to help you go back to feeling like your old self. Varicose veins don’t have to keep you down — to schedule an appointment, contact us at Center for Vein today.

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