All About Pregnancy & Varicose Veins
Pregnancy. That beautiful glow, the happiness and excitement of welcoming a new member to the family...and the varicose veins. You read that right, varicose veins. Amongst all the wonderful things about pregnancy, there are some negative effects, like varicose veins.
"But why do pregnant women get varicose veins?"
#1 Hormones weaken vein wall & function
There is more than one reason for pregnancy to cause varicose veins. Pregnancy causes an increase in the hormones estrogen and progesterone, to provide support for the growing fetus. Among the many things that estrogen and progesterone are responsible for, they are also responsible in the regulation of the valves within the veins and the vein walls.
As the vein is a thin-walled and floppy structure, any weakening of the vein wall or improper function of the valves enables pooling of the blood in the vein and the development of varicose veins.
#2 Blood Flow
Pregnancy also causes a marked increase in the volume of blood in the body for nourishment of the fetus. In addition to the increased blood volume, the movement of blood in the legs and pelvis slows down in order to support the fetus. As the fetus grows in the uterus, the growing fetus places pressure on the vena cava, which it the largest vein in the body by which blood from all the veins in the body drain take blood to the heart. With the pressure on the vena cava, this can increase pressure in the veins in the legs resulting in varicose veins. Lastly, genetics plays a role with varicose veins. If your mother has had problems with varicose veins, than you will likely also have varicose veins, even in pregnancy.
What can you do about Varicose Veins during pregnancy?
It is important to keep in mind that varicose veins are not dangerous for a pregnancy, but the main concern is their appearance and the pain that accompanies varicose veins. Many women will have improvement of their varicose veins within 1-3 months after having their baby, but most women would like to treat the symptoms through their pregnancy.
Conservative Treatments for Varicose Veins
Although pregnant women are unable to have any procedural or surgical treatment, there are still plenty of lifestyle changes and conservative treatments that are available to ease the pain from varicose veins.
Low impact exercises, such as walking, swimming, and stretching, allow the muscles to contract to push more blood through the veins.
For those women working jobs that keep them in static positions, changing positions or doing calf stretches throughout the day can work the muscles.
Women on bedrest can benefit from similar exercises, performing foot pumps and leg lifts, but discuss this with your OBGYN prior to taking on any seated exercise plans on bedrest.
How Clothing & Shoes can cause or prevent Varicose Veins during pregnancy.
Exercise and stretching aren’t the only ways to treat varicose veins. Other simple lifestyle changes come down to the clothing and shoes worn every day.
Avoidance of overly tight undergarments, pants, belts, and socks, believe it or not, can reduce symptoms from varicose veins.
Sensible shoes that are comfortable are better than wearing those stylish high heels.
Lastly, wearing compression stockings is a mainstay in treatment to reduce swelling and pain, mainly if worn on a regular basis.
What to do if you experience symptoms of varicose veins during pregnancy?
Don’t hesitate to visit with your doctor or a vascular surgeon to learn more about your varicose veins, prevention, and treatments, especially if your varicose veins continue after pregnancy.
Dr. Jose Almeida, a board certified surgeon, at the Miami Vein Center is a leading expert in the care of varicose veins. He has years of experience helping patients prevent, treat and manage the complications of varicose veins.