Pregnancy Varicose Veins
Pregnancy is a whole new adventure for many women, with no two pregnancies being alike. There are so many great things about being pregnant, but one of the not so great things is varicose veins.
Did you realize that pregnant women are at an increased risk to have varicose veins?
Several factors are involved in pregnant women developing varicose veins, such as:
Estrogen and progesterone are the major hormones involved in a woman’s cycle and also during pregnancy. These hormones can cause malfunction of valves and thin, floppy vein walls. During pregnancy these hormones change rapidly, which can lead to varicose veins, that can even start as early as 6 week into a pregnancy.
2. Blood Volume
Through pregnancy, the amount of blood in circulation increases, which means there is more blood to pump through the body. In order to sustain the fetus, the blood moves slower through the legs and pelvis, which causes more blood to pool in the legs creating a chance for varicose veins.
3. Vena cava Compression
The vena cava is the largest vein in the body, which takes blood directly to the heart. The veins of the body all bring blood to the vena cava. As the uterus grows, it can directly compress the vena cava, which can increase the pressure in the veins in the legs, again creating the possibility for varicose veins to develop. Learn more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inferior_vena_cava_syndrome
4. Family and Personal History
If your mother has varicose veins or you had varicose veins during a prior pregnancy, this increases the chance to develop varicose veins again.
5. Other Factors
Several other factors can play a role in the development of varicose veins or worsen the symptoms and are not only limited to pregnancy. These factors are tight clothing, standing or sitting still for long periods of time, or being overweight or obese.
Treatment Options for Pregnant Women
There are several treatment options that are available for treating varicose veins during pregnancy, despite popular belief. Surgical treatments are not indicated during pregnancy and are reserved for the postpartum period. Even though varicose veins are rarely dangerous during pregnancy, reducing symptoms with treatment will make for a more comfortable pregnancy.
- 1Exercise: This is a mainstay for treatment and includes activities such as walking, swimming, yoga, and stretching, which should be performed on a daily basis and sometimes several times during the day. Exercise causes the muscles to contract, which compress the vein, aiding to push blood through the veins.
- 2Position change: If you sit or stand for long periods of time, changing position at least a couple of times per hour, or performing exercises while sitting or standing, such as leg lifts or ankle curls.
- 3Compression: There are multiple types of compression stockings and garments that can be purchased over the counter, or even prescription garments that provide higher pressure. Use of this type of garment applies pressure to the legs to prevent swelling and compress the vein to move blood back toward the heart.
- 4Other lifestyle changes: Typically, weight gain is advised during pregnancy, but if you are overweight or obese when you become pregnant, speak with your OBGYN about proper weight gain during your pregnancy. Monitoring your weight can help to reduce symptoms of varicose veins. Ensure you wear comfortable clothing that is not too tight, particularly in the pelvic area and wear appropriate and comfortable shoes.
What to do if you experience symptoms of varicose veins during pregnancy.
If you are pregnant and are experiencing symptoms from varicose veins, visit with your doctor regarding appropriate treatment options and ways to reduce symptoms. The majority of women that experience varicose veins during pregnancy usually have improvement within a couple of months after delivering the baby, but if symptoms continue through the postpartum period, there may be additional treatment options for you to consider.
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