Advice for pregnant women on how to minimise the effects of varicose veins

20th February 2017 by Daryll Baker0

It is not uncommon for women to experience varicose veins whilst they are pregnant. This is because of the growing uterus, which puts pressure on the large vein on the right-hand side of the body, known as the interior vena cava. The pressure on this large vein puts additional burden on the veins in the legs.
Not only this but when a woman is pregnant, the amount of blood in her body increases, which can also put additional pressure on the veins. Progesterone levels also rise during pregnancy, which causes the walls of the blood vessels to relax. These factors can contribute to varicose veins developing within pregnant women. Or for women who already suffer from varicose veins, pregnancy can exacerbate the condition.
Whilst unsightly, varicose veins are usually not harmful, and are just another bodily burden many expectant ladies are forced to endure.
That said, there are certain strategies mums-to-be can take to help minimise the effects of varicose veins in pregnancy.
Get some exercise on a regular basis
It need not be a five-mile run or 50 lengths in the pool, but carrying out some gentle exercise regularly will get the blood pumping round the body and help stave off varicose veins.
As the Baby Centre advises:
“Exercise daily. Even just a brisk walk around the block can help your circulation.”
Watch your weight
It is generally recommended that pregnant women should keep weight gain to around 25 – 35 pounds. Additional weight puts pressure on the body and can overwork an already overworked circulatory system, making you more prone to varicose veins.
Get plenty of vitamins
Vitamins are important for the health of both the mother and her unborn baby. Eating a well-balanced diet full of vitamins will not only help keep a pregnant lady’s weight down but can also help the body repair itself, which can help reduce the risk of varicose veins appearing on the skin. As What To Expect writes in a feature about varicose veins and pregnancy:
“Get your daily dose of vitamins. A balanced pregnancy diet keeps veins healthy. Make sure to eat lots of foods with vitamin C, which your body uses to produce collagen and elastin (connective tissues that repair and maintain blood vessels.)
Elevate the legs
Legs and feet can become tired during pregnancy, especially during the latter stages. Elevating the legs whenever possible, such as putting them on a stool when watching TV in the evening or keeping them on a pillow in bed, will help alleviate tired legs, improve the blood circulation in the legs and stave off varicose veins.
Compression stockings
It might also be a good idea to wear compression stockings. These special support stockings are tighter at the ankle and become looser further up the leg, helping the blood flow back to the heart. With the blood flowing easier, compression stockings can help prevent varicose veins from becoming any worse.
If you are concerned about any aspect of varicose veins during pregnancy, or have had a baby and would like to get varicose veins treated, get in touch with the Vascular Consultancy, experts in the treatment of 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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