Pregnancy is a time of excitement and anticipation — but you might not anticipate some of the side effects that often accompany pregnancy, such as the appearance of varicose and spider veins. “Varicose veins– aren’t they something only older women get?” you might be wondering. Unfortunately, varicose veins are common in pregnancy.
If you’re having trouble seeing over your pregnant stomach, you might not realize how your pregnancy is affecting your legs until you look in a mirror. Or maybe you notice how achy and tired your legs feel at the end of the day. Unfortunately you might not be able to completely eliminate the risk of varicose veins in pregnancy, since heredity plays a part in whether you develop varicose veins. However, if you follow a few tips to prevent varicose veins during pregnancy, you can reduce your risk.
Weight gain and an increase in your blood volume to supply your baby and placenta with blood they need are natural changes of pregnancy. But excessive weight gain can increase your risk of developing varicosities, especially if you have family members who also have varicose veins or if you’re overweight at the start of your pregnancy.
The combination of excessive weight gain and the increased blood volume puts additional pressure on the veins in your legs. This makes it more likely that you’ll develop dilated, swollen veins. Keeping your weight gain within normal recommended limits of 35 pounds or less during pregnancy is one of the best tips for preventing varicose veins in pregnancy.
Since you can’t avoid weight gain altogether, or the increase in blood volume there are steps you can take to minimize their impact on your veins.
- Don’t stand too long in one place; standing causes blood to pool in your legs, increasing the volume and further dilating the veins. If you must stand, shift your weight from one foot to another or move back and forth, even if you don’t have a large area to move in.
- Sitting with legs or ankles crossed can also slow blood circulation and trap more blood in your lower extremities.
- When you sit, elevate your feet and legs as often as possible, since this increases blood flow out of the legs and back to the heart. Follow these tips whenever possible.
- The thought of wearing compression socks may have you feeling more like your grandmother than a mom-to-be, but compression socks can really put the pressure on — in a good way — to keep venous blood from pooling in your legs. Graduated compression socks are woven in a way that exerts more force at the ankle and less pressure as you move up the leg. This keeps blood moving up and out of your legs against the forces of gravity, the increased blood volume and the growing fetus.
Compression socks come in various strengths; some require a doctor’s prescription and careful fitting. Put compression socks on first thing in the morning to increase their effectiveness. Since the hormonal changes of pregnancy begin with conception you should get in compression socks as soon as you learn the good news.
Even if you rigidly adhere to all these tips to prevent varicose veins in pregnancy, those ugly blue veins can still make an appearance. In many cases, their appearance is temporary, and varicose veins disappear within three months after your baby is born. Even if they disappear after your first baby is born don’t be surprised if with subsequent pregnancies those varicose veins return and don’t go away in the months after delivery.
If they don’t, call Dr. Harper (800) 764-3280 and the staff at Veins Specialists of the South or contact us online to set up a consultation on suggestions for treating your varicose veins.