Varicose Veins in Pregnant Women

Veins already move blood against the flow of gravity. They return blood from the extremities to the heart. When there is increased pressure on those veins, they can fail to keep the blood moving in one direction. This can result in thick, swollen blood vessels that appear bluish or purple below the skin.

You can see and feel these vessels and they may hurt in some people. Pregnant women are prone to develop varicose veins due to the increased pressure and changes in the body that are a result of carrying another human being.

With pregnancy come changes in the hormonal balance of the body. Estrogen and progesterone levels go through the roof. Increased progesterone can cause vessels to relax. They are increasing their blood volume because of the baby but in the legs, this can make it hard for the blood to move upward in the veins.

As your belly gets larger, there is more pressure on the abdomen and the large vein on the right side of the body, the inferior vena cava. That pressure is passed along to the vessels of the legs. If you are a pregnant woman who has a job that requires standing for long periods of time, that pressure is increased yet again. Spider veins can also occur in the smaller veins of the feet, lower legs and face due to increased pressure in them.

Well, for women who find them unacceptable, those varicose veins usually disappear in a few months post delivery. Once the extra weight and blood volume are gone, the normal flow of blood through the veins usually returns.

But, there are things that women can do while they are pregnant to reduce their chances of developing varicose veins and also to reduce their numbers.

* Keep feet elevated – Whenever you are sitting, keep the feet elevated. This helps to facilitate the flow of blood back up towards the heart.

* Wear compression sleeves – If you must stand, compression sleeves can keep blood moving in the right direction. Put on your sleeves or compression hose while you are still in bed before your feet hit the ground for best results.

* Resist the urge to cross your legs – This further stems the flow of blood back to the heart. Keep legs as straight as possible.

* Exercise – Pregnancy does not mean that you can’t exercise to improve your health. It is good for you and the baby. Increasing cardiovascular health can also keep vessels more elastic and less prone to blood clots or backflow.

With each pregnancy your risk of varicose veins increases, but these tips can help you avoid them with each subsequent pregnancy.