How to Prevent Varicose Veins During Pregnancy
Many women develop (or experience worsening) varicose veins during pregnancy. Though they can itch and hurt, they’re generally harmless and often resolve postpartum. Treatment, if needed, can often be postponed until after delivery.
Varicose veins are caused when increased pressure inside the veins damages or weakens the valves inside the vein. When these valves stop working effectively, blood can flow backward and pool inside the vein, causing it to swell.
What causes varicose veins during pregnancy?
Pregnancy is an exciting time for many women, but it can come with a lot of unexpected changes that increase the risk of varicose veins, including:
- Increased blood volume
Throughout pregnancy, blood volume increases as much as 50% to help supply enough oxygen to the growing demands of your baby.
- Increased hormones
High levels of progesterone are required to maintain a healthy pregnancy, but it can also weaken vein valves and relax the walls in your veins. It alone can significantly impact your vein health and the formation of varicose veins because it also contributes to excess fluid retention and bloating in the legs and feet.
- Increased weight
Weight gain is expected during pregnancy; however, it puts excess stress on the valves inside the veins, which increases your risk of varicose veins.
The combination of increased blood volume, fluids, hormones and the weight of the growing baby all contribute to a slower return of blood to the heart, significantly increasing a woman’s risk of varicose veins. The good news is that they’re a common and typically harmless part of pregnancy. While they can become itchy, uncomfortable or even painful, most pregnancy-related varicose veins resolve postpartum without medical intervention.
Want to learn how to prevent varicose veins during pregnancy? The skilled veins care specialists at Virginia Vein Care can help.
How to prevent varicose veins during pregnancy
Here are a few ways you can prevent varicose veins during pregnancy or prevent them from getting worse:
- Daily physical activity
Even a brisk walk around the block can improve your circulation and minimize your risk of varicose veins.
- Move your body often
Avoid sitting or standing for long periods and take plenty of breaks to move around. This will help encourage healthy blood flow.
- Maintain a healthy weight
While weight gain is expected during pregnancy, it’s important to stay within the recommended weight range for your stage of pregnancy. If you’re unsure whether your weight gain meets the recommendations, please check with your OB/GYN or midwife.
- Elevate your feet
Elevate your feet over your heart or higher whenever possible throughout the day. This will help encourage blood flow back toward your heart and reduce swelling.
- Wear compression stockings
Ask the Virginia Vein Care physicians if medical-grade compression stockings are right for you during pregnancy.
- Drink plenty of water
Water helps improve circulation by thinning the blood and strengthening the muscles that support the veins.
Can I treat varicose veins during pregnancy?
In most cases, vein treatment is not recommended during pregnancy. However, the vein care specialists at Virginia Vein Care can help you reduce the signs and symptoms of venous insufficiency and prevent complications, if needed.
Varicose veins treatment near me
Virginia Vein Care offers a range of minimally invasive, non-surgical, state-of-the-art alternatives to vein stripping. If your legs are itchy, sore or heavy, you may be suffering from venous insufficiency.
It is generally recommended that pregnant women wait until after the birth of their baby to undergo treatment for varicose veins. However, our skilled physicians are always available to discuss your vein health and care needs. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, please visit a Virginia Vein Care location near you.