PREGNANCY AND VARICOSE VEINS
Varicose veins are a common and mostly harmless part of pregnancy for some women. They are identified or characterised by visible twisted or bulging veins that may be itchy, uncomfortable or even painful. They are mostly found on the legs but move beyond the legs to vaginal area and the rectum in some cases. (Those found around the rectum are also called hemorrhoids).
Varicose veins occurs when the uterus (womb) applies pressure to the large vein (inferior vena cava) that carries blood back to the heart from your feet. One of the reason why this happens is that there is increased volume of blood during pregnancy, which basically means there will be more blood within the veins which increases the strain on the veins. Also, increased hormone levels during pregnancy also cause the muscular wall of the blood vessels to relax thereby reducing blood flow to the heart.
Varicose veins are mostly hereditary so there is not much you can do about them.
HOW TO PREVENT VARICOSE VEINS DURING PREGNANCY
- Elevate your feet as much as possible ideally higher than your waist or heart.
- Take frequent breaks and move around as much as possible if you have to sit or stand for a long time
- Wear maternity support hose to gently compress your legs and squeeze the veins to help push the blood back towards the heart. Do not wear tight stockings that squeeze on a particular spot on your legs as this can cut off blood circulation.
- Sleep on tour left side to keep pressure off the inferior vena cava which is on the right side of your body.
- Watch your weight because increased weight puts more pressure on the veins.
- Reduce sodium intake to minimize swelling of veins.
- Avoid wearing heels and crossing your legs as they both restrict blood flow.
- Exercise with doctors recommendation.
NOTE THAT if the veins feels very hard, painful or the skin over them looks read please call your doctor.
Varicose veins often get better after delivery when the uterus is no longer pushing on the inferior vena cava, usually around 3months postpartum but can also take up to a year postpartum for some women. Permanent treatment of varicose veins which is mostly done through surgery preferably should wait until your baby making days are over it is also a wise choice to weigh the discomfort you usually go through and your cosmetic or aesthetic concerns before surgery.