Why some women develop varicose veins during their pregnancy
Many women first develop varicose veins during pregnancy. They tend to get worse with each successive pregnancy and with age. Being overweight, carrying twins or higher multiples, and standing for long periods can also make you more susceptible.
Varicose veins may occur for a number of reasons:
• The amount of blood in the mother’s body increases during pregnancy, adding to the burden on her veins.
• The progesterone levels during pregnancy rise, causing the walls of her blood vessels to relax.
• As the mother’s uterus grows, it puts pressure on the large vein on the right side of her body (the inferior vena cava), which in turn increases pressure in the leg veins.
• Mothers are more likely to get varicose veins if other members of their family has had them.
The good news is that varicose veins tend to improve after you give birth, particularly if you didn’t have any before you got pregnant. And if they don’t get better; there are a variety of ways to treat them.
These include exercise, compression stockings and minimally invasive in office procedures such as radio-frequency and laser closure.
To prevent or minimize varicose veins you can:
• Exercise daily. Even just a brisk walk around the block can help your circulation.
• Strive to keep within the recommended weight range for your stage of pregnancy.
• Elevate your feet and legs whenever possible. Use a stool or box to rest your legs on when you’re sitting, and keep your feet elevated on a pillow when you’re lying down. Don’t cross your legs or ankles when sitting. Don’t sit or stand for long periods without taking breaks to move around.
• Sleep on your left side with your feet on a pillow. Wedge a pillow behind your back to keep yourself tilted to the left. Since the inferior vena cava is on the right side, lying on your left side relieves the vein of the weight of the uterus, thus decreasing pressure on the veins in your legs and feet.
• Wear special support hose. Prescription- strength hose, known as graduated-compression stockings work best and are available from medical supply stores and pharmacies. These stockings are twice as thick as normal pantyhose. Tight at the ankle, they get looser as they go up the leg, making it easier for blood to flow back up toward your heart. As a result, they help prevent swelling and may keep your varicose veins from getting worse. Put them on before getting out of bed in the morning, while you’re still lying down, to prevent blood from pooling in your legs, and keep them on all day. These support hose may be bothersome, especially in hot weather, but bad varicose veins can be more uncomfortable.
If you have tried the methods above and still have undue achiness and tiredness in your legs or have large bulgy veins, restless legs, or are just uncomfortable about your veins, please seek attention from a physician specializing in the care of venous insufficiency.
Treatment of varicose veins is a necessity and not a luxury. Please get your veins examined before developing irreversible effects of venous insufficiency such as hyper-pigmentation or chronic venous ulcers.