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04.16.24 CVL Varicose Veins

How Can I Prevent Varicose Veins While Pregnant?

Being pregnant is an exciting time, but also a time of many physical, emotional and hormonal changes. Knowing what to expect along the way will hopefully help you embrace the coming changes with confidence. Of course, we all know the biggest change is a growing belly. But most expecting mothers are unaware of the circulation changes that occur in their legs.

What Are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are blue or purple veins that are visible just below the surface of skin. These abnormal veins typically bulge and twist and can appear to branch out. There is an increased risk of developing varicose veins if your mother or father has them. It is also known that pregnancy can increase the risk of varicose veins. Veins rely on leg muscles and one-way valves to propel blood back up to the heart and lungs. Should the veins and valves in your legs weaken or not function properly, the outcome is “pooling” of blood in the veins, causing increased pressure, and further leading to bulging veins.

Why Do Varicose Veins Happen More Frequently During Pregnancy?

  • As blood volume increases during pregnancy, so can the strain on vein walls and valves, causing venous circulation to be less efficient.
  • Progesterone increases during pregnancy, which is necessary for a healthy pregnancy, but this hormone can also cause veins to “relax,” making circulation a bit more sluggish than normal. When circulation is less efficient, blood can pool in vessels and pressure can increase inside the veins, causing them to swell.
  • As the baby grows inside your uterus, the increased size of the organ can push against blood vessels and organs in the lower abdomen. As a result, pressure placed on the pelvic veins from the uterus can inhibit the blood from circulating freely up and out of your legs.

What Can I Do To Prevent Varicose Veins?

  1. Stay active! Walking, biking or anything that moves your legs will work muscles and improve venous circulation.
  2. Elevate your legs. Gravity is always pulling fluid and circulation down the leg. When sitting down, prop your legs up!
  3. Wear support hose. We know most people hate this tip, but give compression hose a chance! They are not your grandma’s hose. Breathable and fun colors make compression hose a stylish option. We recommend medical-grade compression hose with 20-30 mm/Hg pressure for the best results. They come in knee-high socks, thigh-high hose and panty hose, and will prevent blood from being able to pool within the legs.
  4. Watch your weight. Maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy is not only good for your heart health and baby’s health, but it’s also vital to preventing or minimizing new varicose veins.
  5. Sleep on your left side. Sleeping on your left side improves blood circulation to the heart and allows for the best flow of blood to the fetus, uterus and kidneys.

If you do develop varicose veins during your pregnancy, do not fret. Many of the bulging veins improve and disappear several weeks after the birth of your new baby. If you continue to experience bulging veins, leg swelling, leg pain, cramping, aching or leg fatigue, seek help sooner rather than later.

Drs. McNeill and Rosenberg and their team at Capitol Vein & Laser Centers offer non-surgical/minimally invasive treatments for varicose veins. From diagnostic ultrasound to therapy, the CVL team will help you achieve your pre-pregnancy legs, without discomfort or downtime. If you’re interested in a consultation, give us a call. We’d be happy to help.

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