Today, let’s talk pregnancy and varicose veins: the struggle is real. When you first get pregnant, people will prepare you for a lot of things. From nausea and cravings to fatigue and mood swings, chances are you probably think you’ve heard it all. If only that were true.
For as many as 70% of expectant mothers, varicose veins can come as a somewhat frightening surprise. After all, the last thing you want to see during your pregnancy are unexpected (and unwanted) surprises on your body!
What’s worse? Those veins may not stick on your legs. Many pregnant women develop varicose veins of the vulva. Or they get hemorrhoids, which are actually varicose veins in the rectum.
However, there’s no need to worry: while varicose veins may be uncomfortable, they are not dangerous for you or your pregnancy. Learn more about what causes varicose veins during pregnancy, and what you can do to solve the problem safely.
Why Do Pregnant Women get Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins around the legs, breasts, rectum, and vulva are a very common side effect of pregnancy. Because it now has another being to support, your body produces more blood during pregnancy, which can result in added pressure on your blood vessels.
Effects on your breasts
Spider veins on your breasts may appear as your blood volume increases during your pregnancy. They’ll likely appear in your first trimester, and may continue during breastfeeding. At that time, the milk in your breasts can make the veins more visible, but they should fade when your baby weans.
Now, if you also notice pain, redness or fever, you may have an infection called mastitis. This can develop if bacteria enters your milk duct, and can be serious if you don’t seek immediate treatment.
Lower Body Pregnancy Effects
This effect is particularly pronounced near your lower body, as your legs are responsible for working against gravity to deliver the extra blood to your heart. This blood also moves more slowly than normal, increasing the pressure placed on the veins and causing them to bulge. In addition to bulging veins, the extra blood has been known to cause hemorrhoids and swollen vulva.
It may sound strange, but the varicose veins in your vagina are a common effect of pregnancy. They are caused by increased blood flow to your vagina, and also by your growing uterus, which puts pressure on those veins. Plus, increased production of the hormone progesterone during pregnancy is also a contributing factor to the development of varicose veins. Wherever they may pop up.
Addressing Leg Swelling
Of course, varicose veins aren’t the only troubling pregnancy side effect. So many women also develop swollen legs and ankles. In fact, the two symptoms often go hand-in-hand. And they’re triggered by the same problem: extra weight puts more pressure on your lower extremities. That pressure makes it harder for blood, and other fluids, to leave your legs and return to your heart, so your veins and legs often swell from the extra fluid.
Fortunately, there’s one common solution to both these issues: compression socks. When you wear compression socks while you’re pregnant, they can offer pain relief by encouraging proper blood flow. These compression socks can also help prevent edema (swelling) as well as varicose veins. But what if you’ve already noticed these pesky veins popping up? Just keep reading to find out your next best steps.
Treating Varicose Veins in Pregnancy
While your varicose veins pose no risk to you or your child during pregnancy, they are unsightly and can be somewhat painful. Fortunately, there are plenty of safe, all-natural options for alleviating discomfort until they recede naturally.
- Elevate Your Legs: When you have some time to lie down and relax, try to elevate your legs above your heart for about 15 minutes. This will help the blood recirculate appropriately, and is most effective if done at least three or four times a day. To maintain results, consider wearing compression stockings during the day.
- Practice Proper Sitting: Try not to cross your legs, or sit on your feet, to preserve blood flow.
- Sleep on your left side. This can promote better blood flow. Add offer a number of other benefits.
- Watch weight gain: Being overweight increases your varicose vein risk. Your doctor can suggest a healthy, targeted weight gain based on your pre-pregnancy Body-Mass Index (BMI).
- Try Warm Baths. These can be especially soothing to varicose veins in your vagina. But stay away from hot baths, as they can be dangerous for your baby.
- Stay Mobile: While being pregnant can zap your energy, staying active is essential to preventing and alleviating varicose veins. Hardcore gym trips aren’t necessary; simply work in a few walks or some light cardio each day to promote stronger circulation during pregnancy.
- Skip Tight Clothing: That’s especially important around your stomach, waist and legs, since snug fits can restrict your blood flow.
- Sleep On Your Left Side: While it might take some getting used to, sleeping on your left side comes with a number of health benefits, including the reduction of varicose veins and an increase in blood flow to the fetus. Sleeping on your left side reduces the amount of pressure put on the vena cava, your body’s largest vein, which is located on the right side of your body.
- Take Your Vitamins: A healthy diet rich in vitamin C can work wonders for improving vein health during pregnancy, by providing your body with the tools it needs to generate collagen and repair damaged blood vessels.
In most cases, varicose veins fade on their own once pregnancy has ended…but sometimes, that just isn’t the case. While surgical vein treatments are not safe during pregnancy, they could be your best option for removing varicose veins after you’ve welcomed your child.
If you’re ready to fight back against varicose veins, Texas Endovascular offers a number of varicose treatment options to ensure that you receive the right results for your exact needs. Our procedures are minimally invasive, require only local anesthesia, and can be performed conveniently in-office. Discover what Texas Endovascular can do for your post-pregnancy body, and schedule your consultation today.