Varicose Veins inPregnancy
Varicose Veins in Pregnancy
There’s one side effect you may not have been expecting during pregnancy – varicose veins. Having twisting, bulging veins is a normal, albeit uncomfortable, part of pregnancy. Varicose veins affect around one in three women and are more common during pregnancy.
Why are Varicose Veins Common During Pregnancy
Varicose veins occur during pregnancy due to more blood flowing throughout your body, which supports you growing baby but can also lead to swollen legs and enlarged veins. As the baby grows, your uterus also tends to press on and partially block veins that allow blood to flow from your legs to your heart. Hormones released during pregnancy also make the walls of your veins softer, which makes it more difficult for them to work properly.
How Do Varicose Veins Develop?
Our veins have valves which prevent blood returning to your heart from flowing backwards. Varicose veins develop when these valves don’t work properly, and the vein walls start becoming weaker. Blood then starts collecting in these areas and the walls of the vein start to stretch and sag. Eventually the vein swells and becomes visible under your skin.
Risk factors for varicose veins include older age, being overweight, spending a lot of time sitting and having high blood pressure. In cases of pregnancy, varicose veins usually go away by the time your baby is aged one as your blood volume and pressure return to normal. In the meantime, there are ways to ease the discomfort and treatment options if they don’t go away.
Treatment and Prevention
There’s no way you can prevent varicose veins for a certainty when you’re pregnant. However, they are less likely to develop if you:
- Maintain an active lifestyle
- Avoid wearing high heels
- Keep your legs up higher than your hips when you are resting or sitting
- Avoid sitting for too long
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Don’t wear anything too tight around your waist or pelvis