Some women develop varicose veins during pregnancy, but will you? Where do they appear? And, what can you do to ease them? Keep reading to learn more about your risks and options.
Will I get Varicose Veins during Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, your veins adapt to the many changes in your body. As your baby grows, your blood volume increases. The extra blood puts pressure on the veins, which can make your veins larger. Your growing uterus also puts pressure on the veins, especially the inferior vena cava (the vein that carries blood from the legs to the heart). Changes in hormones, such as increased progestin levels, can also open the veins. Varicose veins—veins that make the skin bulge out—are generally harmless, although they may become itchy and uncomfortable.
Varicose veins tend to be hereditary. If you have them, your mother or grandmother probably had them during pregnancy, too. So, unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to prevent them. But there are some ways to reduce varicose vein pain and avoid making the veins worse.
Where do Varicose Veins Appear?
Varicose veins are often on the:
- Backs and fronts of the calves
- Inside of the legs near the ankles and feet
During pregnancy, varicose veins can occur in the lower pelvic area, buttocks, and thighs. Hemorrhoids are another kind of varicose vein that occurs during pregnancy. Hemorrhoids are varicose veins in the anus or rectum, often caused by constipation.
What is the difference between Varicose Veins and Spider Veins?
Spider veins are smaller than varicose veins and are usually found on the legs and sometimes on the face. They may look like spider webs under the skin. Spider veins don’t make the surface of the skin protrude as varicose veins do.
What are the Symptoms of Varicose Veins?
Some women do not have any symptoms with varicose veins. If you do have symptoms, your legs may feel extremely tired, heavy, or achy. Other symptoms that may be more common with varicose veins include throbbing, swelling, and itching. Your symptoms may get worse after sitting or standing for long periods. Your symptoms may get better after resting and putting your legs up.
How Long will Varicose Veins Last?
For some women, varicose veins shrink or disappear after birthing a child. For others, varicose veins stay after childbirth. Women may also get more varicose veins or spider veins with each additional pregnancy.
What Can I Do to Ease Varicose Veins?
- Don’t cross your legs while sitting.
- Take breaks to change your position after sitting or standing for long periods.
- Drink plenty of water and eat enough fiber to prevent constipation.
- Elevate your legs periodically to improve circulation.
- Regularly exercise if it’s safe for you to do so.
- Sleep on your left side. It will help relieve pressure on the inferior vena cava.
- Reduce sodium intake to minimize swelling of the veins.
- Wear lower-heel or flat shoes as this works your calf muscles, promoting healthy circulation.
- Wear support hosiery but avoid wearing tight hose that cut off circulation.
Varicose veins and spider veins are often painless and do not usually cause health problems. If they do cause symptoms, talk to your doctor about treatment options.