Varicose veins during pregnancy are very common and are just one of the side effects for mothers-to-be. While the large, swollen veins are unsightly, they are usually not dangerous to the mother or infant. They are most often seen on the legs, but they can appear as hemorrhoids or in other places on the lower half of the pregnant woman’s body.
When a woman is pregnant, she produces an extra volume of blood that is required to nourish both the baby and the mother. However, the extra blood puts more pressure on the blood vessels, especially the veins in the legs. This is because the veins in the legs must work harder and against gravity to get the blood back to the heart. When the veins work harder, the vein walls weaken as well as the tiny valves inside the veins block the blood from flowing backward, being the reason why the blood starts to pool in the veins.
Varicose veins are more common in women than in men. They are also hereditary. Even if they disappear after pregnancy, they can reappear and worsen with each successive pregnancy and as you age. Several factors come together to make varicose veins likely at about the 29th week of pregnancy, including pressure from the growing uterus and extra progesterone produced by the body that relaxes blood vessels.
You can help prevent varicose veins from developing during pregnancy or at least minimize them by following a few tips:
- Exercise daily, even if it is just a 15 or 20-minute brisk walk
- Make every effort to keep your weight within the recommended limit for your stage of pregnancy
- Elevate your feet above your heart whenever possible
- Avoid crossing your legs when you are sitting; this will also help prevent the development of spider veins, which are different from varicose veins
- Avoid standing or sitting for long periods and do not strain or lift heavy objects
- Wear compression stockings that are tighter at the ankle and get looser towards the thigh
- Sleep on your left side because that will cause less obstruction to major blood vessels
- Wear loose-fitting clothing, especially around the tops of your legs
- Maintain a balanced diet, especially during pregnancy
In many cases, the varicose veins that develop during pregnancy gradually shrink and disappear a few months after delivery. However, if you become pregnant again, the same veins will most likely become swollen and twisted again. If you had varicose veins before you became pregnant, they may not disappear after you deliver.
When you speak with our specialist at South Lake OB/GYN, you can explain your vein issues and learn more about treatments like sclerotherapy to minimize them. Sclerotherapy may be the perfect treatment for you after you have given birth.
For many reasons, varicose veins are a common side effect of pregnancy. However, there are things you can do to help minimize their appearance after your delivery. If you have more questions about varicose veins and treating them after pregnancy with treatments like sclerotherapy, schedule a consultation at our office in Clermont. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have and help you decide if sclerotherapy is right for you. Contact us today to book your appointment.