Advice for coping with varicose veins whilst pregnant

6th September 2016 by Daryll Baker0
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During pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through significant changes. Whilst some of these changes can exude radiance and health, other changes can be a little more uncomfortable and problematic. One such change that affects some women during pregnancy is the onset of varicose veins.

The severity of varicose veins in pregnant women varies and ranges from mild discomfort to the legs feeling extremely tired, restless and heavy. The veins in the legs can become swollen and purple in colour and can sometimes itch and throb.

What causes varicose veins during pregnancy

Varicose veins during pregnancy are caused by the pressure the growing uterus puts on the large vein at the right hand side of the body. The pressure being put on this vein can radiate through to the veins in the legs, which can result in the swelling and discomfort of leg veins.

The amount of blood in a woman’s body is increased during pregnancy. This increase in blood can also put pressure on the veins. As the Baby Centre notes, progesterone levels also increase during pregnancy, which can cause the blood vessel walls to relax, again adding to the burden on the veins.

Being overweight and the additional weight a woman gains when she is pregnant can also put pressure on the veins in the legs and in some women cause varicose veins.

Treatment for varicose veins whilst pregnant

If you are suffering from varicose veins during your pregnancy you may look for a way to treat the discomfort caused by these enlarged leg veins.

Exercise

Running a marathon might not be recommended during pregnancy, but some regular gentle exercise, such as a brisk walk, can help with a woman’s circulation and minimise and even prevent the onset of varicose veins.

Raise your legs to an elevated position

When you go to bed and when you are sitting down try to raise your legs to an elevated position by using a pillow or stool to help with the blood circulation in your legs.

Sleep on your left side

It is also a good idea for pregnant ladies suffering from varicose veins or attempting to prevent varicose veins to sleep on their left side. This is due to the fact that the main vein that causes varicose veins, known as the inferior vena cava, is situated on the right side of the body and sleeping on the left will help to relieve the weight of the uterus from putting pressure on the inferior vena cava.

Wear compression stockings

Some women find relief by wearing graduated compression stockings when they are pregnant. These support stockings work by making it easier for the blood to flow up a woman’s leg and towards her heart, consequently helping to prevent the swelling.

The good news is that varicose veins during pregnancy tend to disappear naturally after a woman has given birth.

If you require any advice or treatment for varicose vein during your pregnancy, get in touch with the Vascular Consultancy, specialists in providing advice, diagnosis and treatment for varicose veins and other vascular conditions.


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Daryll Baker is a Consultant Vascular Surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital London and Clinical Lead for North Central Region Vascular Services.

He read Medicine at Oxford University and trained in Vascular Surgery in Nottingham, London and Edinburgh. He obtained his research PhD from the University of Wales.

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