Postpartum Recovery & Venous Disease

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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

All too often,  first-time and experienced mothers don’t recognize the need for postpartum care to prevent physical and mental health issues. Although steps are available to help these issues, the problems with varicose veins are often overlooked.  Typically exhausted and stressed moms  place their needs on the “back burner” to care for their new baby who requires round-the-clock attention.

After a mother gives birth, changes happen that can make it even more challenging to adjust to the demands of a newborn.  Issues such as postpartum depression, nursing difficulties and pain, clotting of the uterus, infection (especially after a c-section), and the struggle to bond with the baby are significant.   At the first sign of symptoms a qualified healthcare professional should be consulted.. The more proactive you are regarding your aftercare, the quicker your recovery will be and the lower the risks.

Strategies to optimize postpartum varicose veins  function can prevent irritating and dangerous complications like blood clots that compromise your confidence and health.  The key is to develop a plan of action that tackles the problems of postpartum vein disease.

Our concern is, ‘Why do women forgo treatment for their varicose veins post-delivery?’  Several factors are at play: a lack of knowledge on the issue and the visual changes begin to resolve with delivery. as the factors creating the increased risk begin to abate.  The pressure from the pregnant uterus resolves with delivery and the engorged pelvic, labial and leg veins decompress.  Other changes include: a gradual reduction in the blood volume, and a return of hormone levels to pre pregnancy levels.

Our ‘Healthy Veins for Life’ principles can be a life and vein saver preventing vein complications for new Moms.  Just because the veins  may not be as noticeable doesn’t mean the problem is gone.  In fact after delivery the risks of blood clots remains high for up to 12 weeks.   Proper diagnosis and treatment with your vein specialists or phlebologist can help prevent further complications for your veins.

Below are valuable recommendations that will provide relief for complications stemming from postpartum varicose veins in the legs and the labia.

Keep Moving With Postpartum Exercise


Chances are, as the mother of a newborn, you’ll spend long hours sitting with a sleeping baby or nursing. Although exercise is probably the last thing on your “to do” list, it is important that you keep active at frequent intervals to effectively boost your circulation.

There are numerous ways to stay more active. Pop in a favorite exercise DVD, taking a stroll around the block, or practice a few minutes of yoga or Pilates to refresh your body to keep things moving with your circulatory system. Stay in shape by walking your baby around your own house.  Your baby will certainly enjoy the movement as well. To make this activity a little easier, invest in a high-quality wrap or carrier that will help disperse your baby’s weight, reducing tension in your arms, neck, and back.  Remember to flex your leg muscles periodically while you rock your little one to sleep for an added boost. Doing these things will help prevent new varicose veins from forming post-delivery.

Believe it or not, you can stay active while nursing your baby. Gently stretching your leg muscles are simple ways to amp up your activity levels. Kegel exercises, which involve the rhythmic contraction and relaxation of the muscles of the pelvis, are invaluable for maintaining tone and strength in the vaginal and pelvic areas postpartum. If you’re diligent about performing postpartum kegel exercises, you can use that time to add a few leg toning exercises as well. Flexing and basic ballet moves are easy, enjoyable ways to keep your legs fit and healthy, even while sitting down. Remember to take it slow, and gradually increase your activity to keep from overworking your sensitive muscles during this delicate time of recovery.

Learn How To Sit In A Healthy Way

Of course, exercise is the best way to increase circulation, but for new Moms sitting for longer periods of time is usually unavoidable.  It’s important to keep your circulatory system operating at its peak by elevating your legs, as much as possible. A comfy mound of pillows, a footstool, or even a small chair will provide that essential incline that will keep fluid from pooling in your legs, thus helping to prevent blood clots and other vein-related complications.  You should have been doing this throughout your pregnancy, so continue doing this during the postpartum recovery.

It’s also a good idea to stop crossing your ankles to prevent the constriction of your veins as you were instructed to do during pregnancy. Remember, your goal is to encourage maximum circulation whenever possible, and crossing your legs/ankles will hamper your efforts.

Invest In Compression Garments

To aid in postpartum recovery, a postpartum girdle and compression hose are a wise purchase. Offering superior support, the postpartum girdle helps to re-align your body after delivery while eliminating much of the sagging and stress that excess skin, fluid pockets, and other postpartum issues can cause. Such support is especially useful to encourage healing in your pelvic region and leg areas, helping to eliminate or reduce varicose veins in those areas.

For postpartum leg pain and varicose veins in the legs, consider purchasing compression hose and postpartum leggings. Compression hose and leggings provide support for your legs by helping your blood travel back toward the heart instead of remaining in your legs. This, in turn, can help reduce varicose veins and blood clots by increasing circulation.

Postpartum leggings also offer extra support while giving you a flexible, comfortable, and stylish fashion solution for your postpartum figure. Leggings are forgiving to your figure as they help to mold and shape your body, equipping you with a much-needed confidence boost.  If you’re having trouble finding all of the garments you want or need, stick with compression hose that can be worn with anything.  There are many stylish types available today and your phlebologist can help with fitting and selection of the best option for you.

Lose The Baby Weight

Extra weight increases the strain on your entire body, and sensitive varicose veins are no exception. By keeping your weight in check, you will naturally alleviate excess pressure on varicose veins. Talk with a trusted healthcare professional to establish a nutrition and fitness plan that complements your lifestyle and won’t inhibit your milk supply if you are breastfeeding (bonus tip: breastfeeding can help you lose weight as well). Don’t force yourself to drop pounds too quickly during this time. Simply focus on making healthier choices across the board that will help you be a more confident and energetic mother to your new little one.  Consult with your OBGYN, a vein health specialist and, if you’re breastfeeding, your baby’s pediatrician before beginning any exercise regimen or diet.

Treat Yourself To A Postpartum Massage


After labor, it’s easy to discount your wants and needs. After all, the baby is here, and you’re pressed for time and probably don’t realize that your body is starved for TLC.  A postpartum massage is an excellent investment of your time and money. The benefits of a postpartum massage include relief of depression and anxiety, reduction in swelling, more effective breastfeeding, and needed pain relief (which is especially useful if you’ve had a c-section).

A postpartum massage can accomplish this by inducing relaxation and boosting circulation, which helps prevent venous disease, blood clots and varicose veins. By relaxing, your body establishes its own biological rhythm which helps your body to recover as quickly as possible.

Don’t treat a massage as a luxury. Postpartum massages should be recognized as key players in a successful postpartum recovery plan.   Schedule your first appointment shortly after delivery (once you receive clearance from your OBGYN) to prevent and treat issues before they become more significant.

Properly Acknowledge The Severity Of Complications

Chances are, your varicose veins are nothing serious and can be treated with the above methods to prevent and heal any bothersome vein issue. Those that persist 3 months after delivery should be evaluated by a phlebologist or vein specialists.  However, two serious complications can occur, as a complication of postpartum varicose veins: Superficial Vein Thrombosis (SVT) and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).

SVT is a blood clot in the surface, or superficial, leg veins.  Postpartum SVT’s can cause irritation, acute inflammation and pain.  Though typically not life-threatening, SVT can occur alongside a DVT, so any tenderness, pain or swelling in your legs should be evaluated by your doctor.

DVT is a serious condition that demands immediate medical attention. DVT is the clotting of the deep veins in the legs, in the thigh or legs.  Postpartum DVT often have no symptoms while other experience a weighty, sore feeling in the affected leg(s) with or without swelling. Although these vague symptoms, which are often seen with pregnancy can cause sore, aching legs, it’s important to see your doctor, as soon symptoms develop.

We suggest if you  are having any symptoms you ask your doctor, “How do you know this is not a blood clot?”  Remember the diagnosis of a DVT cannot be made with a physical exam alone, it requires an ultrasound of the legs.  The ultrasound is similar to the device used to check the baby during pregnancy.  If a clot are diagnosed, targeted treatment options are available to help thin the blood and destroy clots at the source.

Postpartum DVT risk include a lack of exercise and elevation of the legs which increases the risk of the sticky postpartum blood clotting.  The good news is that DVT risk can be diminished with regular activity, which is a reason why c-section patients are encouraged to start walking almost immediately after delivery. By keeping that blood flowing, the likelihood of DVT is dramatically reduced. By following the preventive measures listed above, you’re well on your way to maintaining healthy circulation and encouraging maximum healing of your postpartum body.

Take Care Of Yourself

It’s easy for moms to “let themselves go” when it comes to obtaining medical care and properly addressing any postpartum challenges before they get out of control. However, it’s crucial for you to be proactive about your health so that you can be present for that new little angel in your life. Remember a little prevention goes a long way. Therefore, when your baby arrives,be diligent about your fitness and nutrition so that you can give your very best to your precious miracle and be around for him or her for a very long time.

Still pregnant and concerned about preventing or treating varicose veins, spider veins and blood clots?  Read about the blood clot risks associated with late pregnancy and the varicose veins that can emerge even during early pregnancy.

Looking for personalized advice and help with your postpartum varicose veins?  Contact us for a consultation at one of our convenient Middle GA locations in Macon or Warner Robins today.

Over 18,000 Procedures Performed

Dr. Kenneth Harper, founder of Vein Specialists of the South, has evaluated more than 22,000 patients and performed over 18,000 procedures since 2000. Dr. Harper is a leader in comprehensive vein care, having focused on diagnosis and treatments for varicose veins, spider veins, venous ulcers, and leg swelling since 1997.


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