This is a question that we frequently hear from women who develop varicose veins while pregnant. Many women first notice varicose veins during pregnancy, and varicose veins may come about during pregnancy, even if you’ve never had them before. The bulging blue or purple veins may be unsightly as well as uncomfortable, but they may also be temporary. You may not need to get rid of varicose veins in this case. It’s quite common for varicose veins (those that appear for the first time during pregnancy) to disappear about three months after you give birth.
If you are genetically predisposed to varicose veins or have had them before becoming pregnant, however, chances are greater that they will remain after you have your baby. Nevertheless, you may want to wait until a few months after having your baby before getting vein treatment that you might not need. At that point, your vascular surgeon will be able to offer you options to get rid of the bulging varicose veins, such as the Venefit Procedure also known as VNUS Closure.
What Causes Varicose Veins to Appear During Pregnancy?
When you are pregnant, you produce extra blood to support the growth of your developing child. This additional blood volume places a burden on leg veins in the legs. After all, the blood in your leg veins already, under normal conditions, has an uphill battle against gravity to make its way back to your heart and lungs during circulation. Now that your anatomy is changing, pressure from your expanding uterus makes it more challenging for blood to move back up the legs. The valves within your veins should keep blood moving in the right direction, but some of the extra blood can pool in the lower leg veins while you’re pregnant. Another factor is progesterone, which relaxes blood vessels. Your body produces more of this hormone while you are pregnant. These are the reasons that varicose veins are more likely to show up in pregnancy.
What Symptoms do Varicose Veins Cause for Pregnant Women?
During your pregnancy, you may notice leg swelling around the ankles, whether or not visible varicose veins show up. Achy or itching legs are also common. Because there may be a tendency for blood clots with varicose veins during pregnancy, keep your obstetrician updated.
Can Varicose Veins During Pregnancy be Prevented?
If you have a genetic tendency, there may be no way to avoid varicose veins during your pregnancy. This expert prevention advice should help:
- Elevate your legs whenever possible, especially when you’ve been on your feet, walking or standing, for a while.
- When you must stand for an extended period, shift your weight from leg to leg every few minutes, rest one foot on a low stool and/or flex and roll your ankles every few minutes.
- Take a short walk a few times per day.
- Avoid wearing tight clothessuch as a tight belt or tight elastic topped socks.
- Wear comfortable supportive, flat or low-heel shoes.
- Don’t cross your legs when seated.
- Don’t lift heavy objects while you’re pregnant and do not strain to move your bowels, which can create varicose veins.
- The exception to tight clothing is to wear support hose or compression stockings. You should ideally put the stockings on prior to getting up each morning. They will provide some support for your leg veins and help them maintain your circulation.
- Try sleeping on your left side. This lessens the weight pressing on the major abdominal vein, and improves circulation.
- Eat a balanced diet to keep your vascular and circulatory systems healthy.
If varicose veins don’t vanish after giving birth, see the vascular surgeons at Northwest Vein & Aesthetic Center in Gig Harbor to learn about all your options to eliminate varicose veins.