Pregnancy is a time of profound change. Your body changes rapidly and you may experience different symptoms depending on your stage of pregnancy. One of the symptoms of pregnancy is varicose veins. These are enlarged, bluish-purple veins that typically appear on the legs during pregnancy. They may also appear as vulvar varicose veins. Varicose veins during pregnancy happen because the uterus applies pressure to the large vein in the leg (the inferior vena cava) that carries blood back to your heart from your legs and feet.
Varicose veins during pregnancy are quite common and almost 40% of pregnant women will get them during this time. Varicose veins can develop anytime during your pregnancy but will most commonly appear and get larger and more pronounced as you get bigger. Varicose veins during pregnancy may itch and hurt, but are otherwise harmless and you can put off treating them till after your pregnancy. Typically, varicose veins go away after pregnancy, about 3 to 4 months after your baby is born.
What causes varicose veins during pregnancy?
There are several reasons as to why varicose veins occur during pregnancy. Some of them are:
- An increase in blood volume: All through your pregnancy, your body produces more blood than usual. This helps your baby grow and develop. A mother’s blood volume can increase by as much as 50%. However, this extra blood puts extra pressure on your blood vessels. This takes place especially in your legs, which work against gravity to push all the extra blood back up to the heart.
- An expanding uterus: Your uterus continually expands to accommodate the growing baby. As the uterus gets larger, it presses on and partially blocks the veins that are responsible for returning blood flow from your legs to your heart.
- A hormonal shift: During pregnancy, your hormones change and shift significantly. One of these hormones, called progesterone, relaxes the blood vessels. It also softens the vein walls, thereby making it harder for them to work efficiently.
- Multiple pregnancies: If you undergo multiple pregnancies, this is added pressure on your pelvic veins and could lead to chronic varicose veins.
- Obesity: If you are obese even before you have become pregnant, you are more likely to develop varicose veins, as this exerts even greater increased pressure on your vein walls.
- Standing for long periods of time when pregnant: If your work involves standing up for long periods of time, you are at greater risk of developing varicose veins during your pregnancy. You should take a break after extended standing so that there is less pressure on your veins.
- Family history of varicose veins during pregnancy: If your mother or grandmother developed varicose veins during pregnancy, you are more likely to develop them yourself.
How to prevent varicose veins during pregnancy?
There are certain precautions and measures you can take to prevent or lessen the severity of varicose veins during pregnancy. Some of them are:
- Sleeping on your left side: The inferior vena cava that carries blood from your legs to your heart is situated on the right-hand side of your body. Sleeping on your left side eases the pressure on your inferior vena cava and helps balance blood flow. Also, when pregnant, it is desirable that you constantly change positions while sleeping.
- Exercising: Moderate exercise during pregnancy is recommended by experts. This will increase blood flow and blood will not pool in your legs. Regular, moderate exercise every day for about 30 minutes will keep your blood flow healthy. While regular, brisk walks are good, pelvic floor exercises are especially beneficial in preventing varicose veins during pregnancy.
- Keeping your legs elevated: Doing this, helps improve circulation in your lower body. You should preferably sit down and rest your legs every three hours. You should also not cross your legs. If you are required to stand for long periods of time, you should keep shifting your weight from one leg to another.
- Managing the burden on your body: While gaining weight is important to support the fetus, weight gain during pregnancy also exerts excess pressure on your veins. You should check with your doctor as to how much weight would be good for you and for the baby. You may also retain fluid during pregnancy, which would again aggravate your varicose veins. In order to minimize fluid retention, you can reduce your salt intake.
- Keeping a check on constipation: Constipation during pregnancy increases the chance that varicose veins will occur. You can drink lots of water, eat a low-salt diet, and eat high-fibre foods to keep constipation at bay during pregnancy.
- Using compression stockings: You can use special stockings for varicose veins during pregnancy. Graduated compression stockings are loose towards the thighs and tight towards the feet, thereby helping blood to flow upwards. These stockings are not only helpful in preventing varicose veins during pregnancy, but are also helpful in providing relief from them. You should consult your doctor before wearing compression stockings, as they may totally restrict blood flow to the lower legs, especially if you are obese. It is important that compression stockings are the right fit.
If your varicose veins during pregnancy become hard, swollen, red, and painful, you need to consult your physician immediately for varicose veins treatment. Dr. Abhilash Sandhyala, of the Flow Vascular Clinic, is extremely adept at treating varicose veins that occur during pregnancy.
He will work with you during this exciting but also challenging time in your life to ensure that your varicose veins during pregnancy do not become too severe. He will also work with you to treat your varicose veins after your baby is born.
Dr. Abhilash Sandhyala is not only very skillful, but also very understanding and empathetic. So, if you have varicose veins during pregnancy and have any questions or concerns regarding them and their treatment, do consult Dr. Abhilash Sandhyala, and rest easy knowing that you have consulted one of the best vascular surgeons and that you are in good hands.
For more information about varicose veins during pregnancy, as well as the treatment for DVT, or other vascular conditions, contact Dr. Abhilash Sandhyala at (+91) 9989649498 or 9959033037, or at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.drabhilash.com