Pregnancy is a blessing, but it can definitely be tough. One common issue that can arise is varicose veins. The good news is that there are simple, non-invasive ways to relive the pain, enabling you to continue functioning normally.
This article focuses specifically on why varicose veins are so common in pregnancy and how to relieve them. For more information about the condition in general, you can read this article on varicose veins.
Are varicose veins more common in pregnancy?
Varicose veins are a common part of pregnancy for many women, especially those with multiple or close pregnancies. In addition to the genetic factor, varicose veins often develop when the uterus applies pressure to the large vein (the inferior vena cava) that carries blood back to the heart from your feet and legs. Furthermore the increased hormones during pregnancy can weaken the valves in the veins, causing the blood to pool.
Pregnancy-related varicose veins most often form on the legs and in the pubic area (also known as vulva varicosities, discussed in more detail below.)
What can I do about varicose veins during pregnancy?
- As with all cases of varicose veins, keeping a healthy lifestyle, avoiding unnecessary weight gain and keeping to a daily low impact exercise regimen can help minimize or contain varicose veins. There are also some tips specific to pregnancy that can help.
- Swimming or even just standing or walking in a pool for 20 minutes improves the blood circulation in your legs and helps to prevent blood and fluid from pooling.Try to keep your weight gain within healthy limits. Although this is often a challenge during pregnancy, it may be worth the extra effort as it plays an active role in preventing varicose veins.
- Don’t cross your legs when sitting.
- Elevate your feet as often as possible, even for short periods of time.
- Wear support hosiery. These special compression socks gently compress the leg muscles and squeeze the veins to help push the blood back toward the heart.
- If you need support all the way up the leg, a better choice may be special maternity pantyhose. These are designed with a comfortable expandable stomach gusset to ensure that you get both support for your legs and comfort over your growing stomach.
- It’s important to avoid socks or knee-highs that are too tight and squeeze where they end below the knee, as this can cut off circulation. We carry both wide and regular fit socks at our BirthLite stores, so we can ensure that this will not happen. You can learn more about our maternity support hosiery here. [link]
- Run cold water on your legs. This can relieve the feeling of heaviness in the legs. Additionally, the cool temperature causes your blood vessels to shrink, alleviating the pain.
- Sleep on your left side to keep the pressure off the inferior vena cava, which is on the right side of your body. Using a pregnancy pillow under your stomach and wedged between your legs can often help you sleep on your left side comfortably.
For those suffering from vulva varicosities (varicose veins in the vaginal area,) support tights alone may not be enough.
Wearing specialised supportive underwear or a girdle (available at all Birthlite stores) is very effective in lifting the veins, minimising the discomfort and swelling. It will also relieve the associated symptoms such as difficulty standing and the sensation that ‘everything is going to fall out.’
Do varicose veins go away after pregnancy?
Varicose veins that develop during pregnancy are likely to get better once you’ve had your baby, though hormones related to nursing can also have a negative effect on your veins.
Physicians often recommend continuing to wear mild support hosiery for 3 months after birth to help the veins get back to their regular position.
If you’ve had painful varicose veins for a few years, or they persist a few months after birth, it’s worth discussing more invasive treatment options with your physician.
Don’t suffer unnecessarily
If you are experiencing varicose veins in pregnancy, there is a solution. Don’t just grin and bear it, pregnancy is hard enough without it! You can read more about how maternity support hosiery can help you, and you can either visit one of our Birthlite stores or use our online order system to get the relief you deserve.
Being pregnant is a beautiful nine months. With the right support, you can enjoy this exciting time.