What Causes Varicose Veins in Pregnancy?
Varicose veins during pregnancy are one of the most common complaints women make, right after stretch marks and fatigue. However, there are steps you can take to help prevent varicose veins or alleviate pain if you already have them.
How Do Varicose Veins Form During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the volume of blood in the body practically doubles causing the blood vessels to expand and enlarge to accommodate the extra fluid. The blood flow also slows down from the legs to the pelvis. This supports the developing fetus and ensures the body is prepared for the rigors of delivery. But it can also cause the formation of large, bumpy varicose veins.
Although typically found in the legs like spider veins, these unsightly veins can be found anywhere in the lower half of the body, including some delicate areas like the vulva or rectum. In fact, varicose veins in the rectum are better known as hemorrhoids.
About 10 to 20 percent of women will be affected by varicose veins during their pregnancy, but there are things you can do to help decrease your chances of getting them.
Preventing Varicose Veins
While you can’t prevent varicose veins completely, there are certain steps you can take to minimize your chances of developing them.
- Put Your Feet Up. Whenever you have a free moment (we know they’re rare), elevate your feet and give those blood vessels a rest. If you have to stand for long periods, make sure you have a stool nearby so you can put one foot up and alternate legs.
- Even during pregnancy, exercise is important. It gets the blood flowing, and that is key to preventing those pesky varicose veins. Take a walk every day (several would be even better). If you don’t like walking, try swimming or stretching exercises.
- Keep an Eye on Your Weight.Most doctors recommend no more than a 25 to 35-pound weight gain during pregnancy. Eat a healthy diet and exercise to help prevent excess weight gain. This makes it easier to lose weight after the baby is born, but it also helps prevent excess strain on the blood vessels.
- One Word – Compression. After exercise, the next best thing you can do to prevent varicose veins is to wear compression stockings. They help take some of the pressure off of your blood vessels by providing support to the lower body.
- Know When to See a Doctor. If you start to have varicose vein pain, it’s time to see a doctor. Normally, varicose veins during pregnancy don’t cause pain and resolve within a few months of giving birth (once the hormones calm down). But if they start to cause pain, it’s time to see a vein doctor in St. Louis, MO.
If you are suffering from varicose veins or have recently given birth and are concerned that your varicose veins aren’t going away, contact Dr. Vidal Sheen at the Sheen Vein Institute. We have South County and West County locations to serve you.