Does Pregnancy Cause Varicose Veins?
Pregnancy and Varicose Veins
Pregnancy can be one of the most joyous periods of time in someone’s life, but coupled with all of the happiness are a list of side effects that aren’t always as welcome and varicose veins are one of them.
One of the high-risk factors for developing varicose veins is, in fact, pregnancy. What causes varicose veins during pregnancy has a lot to do with the increase in blood produced in the body during this time. The extra blood flow is needed to support the growing baby, but this also increases the size of the veins. As the blood supply becomes larger and the veins become larger as a result, excess pressure is put on the veins. Additionally, as the baby grows, the uterus also grows with it, and that adds pressure to the veins as well. Hormonal changes are also a factor. Progesterone levels increase during pregnancy, which relaxes the walls of the blood vessels.
Varicose Veins During Pregnancy
Varicose veins affect up to 40% of pregnant women, but the chance of developing them is more common in women who are overweight, or have a family history of any kind of venous disease. In some cases, women who are carrying twins, triplets or any kind of multiples are also at a higher risk.
Typically, these varicose veins during pregnancy are harmless. It’s usually a cosmetic issue. Varicose veins are usually very visible to the naked eye, appearing as large, discolored, twisting and rope-like bulges seen through the top layer of the skin. They are not the prettiest thing to see when you look down at your legs and feet, and often they come with very uncomfortable symptoms like itching, throbbing, swelling and burning sensation on the skin surrounding the affected veins.
This is why most men and women choose to go through some kind of varicose vein treatment in order to have them removed. However, varicose veins treatment during pregnancy is not recommended right away. For most women, those pregnancy-induced varicose veins will improve or disappear after giving birth. However, expect them to pop back up if you decide to get pregnant again. If you developed them during your first pregnancy, you are more likely going to develop them during future pregnancies as well.
Minimizing Varicose Veins During Pregnancy
Although varicose veins are inevitable in some cases, there are still ways to minimize the onset and manage the condition during your pregnancy. The most important thing is to keep your blood flowing. Proper circulation is key to having healthy veins. Don’t sit or stand in the same position for too long, keep legs and feet elevated whenever possible, flex your feet to encourage blood flow in the ankles, and be careful not to sit with your legs crossed too often. At night, sleep on the left side of the body to relieve any pressure on the inferior vena cava, the largest vein in the human body.
Wearing compression socks or stockings is also ideal to promote healthy blood flow. These stockings put just the right amount of pressure on the legs in order to keep blood flowing freely toward the heart. Look for maternity-specific hosiery, but also be wary of just how tight it feels when you put it on. You don’t want it to cut off circulation, just help move it along. This applies to your clothing too — make sure nothing is too tight that it could cut off circulation. Wearing comfortable clothes and shoes. Stick to flat shoes or ones with a low heel to help work the calf muscles.
Workout is Ideal for Pregnant Women with Varicose Veins
Diet and exercise are also very important. Low impact workouts, such as walking or water aerobics, are ideal for pregnant women with varicose veins. If you are looking for something more physical, talk with your healthcare provider or a certified personal trainer about incorporating a safe and effective fitness routine into your lifestyle. Stay hydrated, eat plenty of fiber, stay away from high-sodium foods, and make sure you are getting all of the essential vitamins and nutrients needed for both you and your baby.
As mentioned, being overweight can cause varicose veins due to the excess weight causing strain on the veins. You will gain weight during pregnancy, but it should be done at a slow and steady pace, monitored by your doctor, so that you don’t exceed the recommended number.
The varicose veins will most likely dissipate soon after childbirth, but if your varicose veins overstay their welcome postpartum, that’s when it’s okay to start looking into treatment options. At Fox Vein & Laser Experts, we offer various minimally invasive procedures to treat varicose veins and other venous diseases, whether they are a product of pregnancy or other health conditions.
Contact us at Fox Vein & Laser Experts
Dr. Susan B. Fox, D. O., RPVI, FSVM, is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of varicose veins, and can consult with you, after you have given birth, about the status of your varicose veins to determine whether or not treatment is necessary. Contact our office today at 954-627-1045 to schedule a consultation with our vein experts.