Pregnant? Watch Out for Varicose Veins

Watch out for varicose veins in Marietta during pregnancyIf you’re pregnant, you have enough on your mind. Concerned with how to stay comfortable in a changing body and make decisions that are as healthy as possible for you and your growing baby, the last thing you need is something else to worry about.

Unfortunately, if you’re pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant in Marietta, varicose veins are something you’ll need to look out for. Pregnant women are at a higher risk of developing these unsightly, rope-like veins, making careful prevention important for many pregnant women.

Why are pregnant women more susceptible to vein issues?

Varicose veins develop because of increases in vein pressure. When high pressure causes blood to back up and pool, it can result in blue or purplish veins that swell along the legs, thighs, ankles and feet. Though they may not cause any pain, they are cosmetically problematic and may lead to other circulation issues.

When you’re pregnant, the amount of blood flowing through your body increases, putting a bigger burden on your already-hard-working veins. Changing hormones cause your progesterone levels to increase, which relaxes the walls of your blood vessels. As your uterus grows during pregnancy, it will put more pressure on the inferior vena cava, the large vein on your body’s right side, which will increase the amount of pressure in your leg veins. With each pregnancy, the risk of varicose veins increases, while carrying twins or higher multiples, standing for long periods, being overweight and having a family history will also put you at greater risk.

Fortunately, most varicose veins will improve after you give birth, especially if you didn’t have them before you became pregnant. During pregnancy, you may also notice small, branching blood vessels near the surface of the skin on your legs, ankles or face—these are called spider veins and frequently also disappear after delivery.

Still, it’s valuable for any expectant mother to know how to prevent and minimize varicose and spider veins to keep them from impacting your health and looks during pregnancy and after. Here are some ways to reduce your risk of varicose veins:

  • Eat plenty of fiber. Constipation can contribute to swollen veins and is another common symptom of pregnancy. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies or whole grain options like bran.
  • Exercise. Working out regularly will build your leg strength while also improving the circulation and stability of your veins. The best activities are those that work your legs, like walking, running or swimming. Because excess weight also puts more pressure on your veins, controlling your weight with regular exercise can be a huge help.
  • Elevate your legs. By propping your legs up, you’re putting the veins in your lower extremities on the same level as your heart or above. This lets your leg veins work with gravity, making it easier for them to pump blood back to your heart. Try elevating your legs on a stool or ottoman while you sit, or prop your feet up on pillows when lying down.
  • Don’t cross your legs. It may be comfortable, but crossing your legs puts pressure on your veins.

Remember: if you have varicose veins while pregnant, it isn’t the end of the world. Varicose veins are very common in pregnant women, but only become dangerous in rare cases. You can use these strategies to reduce your chances of developing unsightly veins, but treatment can usually wait until after delivery if you need more advanced treatments like sclerotherapy. For more tips on avoiding or resolving your venous issues, contact your vascular surgeon in Marietta.


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