Varicose Veins in Pregnancy

When you think of varicose veins, what comes to mind? Is it your Great Aunt Cindy with the spidery blue veins popping from her legs? You envisioned yourself pregnant with a glow, but yet one by one you are discovering new nuisances that go along with the joys of pregnancy. Not only are varicose veins unpleasant to look at, they are also a cause of discomfort. Unfortunately, varicose veins are common during pregnancy.

What causes varicose veins in pregnancy?

During pregnancy, your blood volume increases. With this increased blood comes increased pressure on your veins. Think of a hose. When you up the amount of water, you increase the pressure of the water coming out. During pregnancy, the pressure in the upper extremities doesn't change significantly. However, there is an increase in pressure on the lower extremities. As the uterus expands this adds even more pressure on your veins. Varicose veins are simply enlarged, dilated veins.

What can I do about varicose veins?

  • Rest. Elevate your feet as often as possible. Aim for thirty minutes at least twice daily.
  • Avoid prolonged standing or sitting. To provide good venous return (return of blood back to your heart) you should get up and walk around at least once an hour. You should try to rest your legs also if you have been standing for a length of time.
  • Use support hose. Talk to your doctor about a prescription for support hose. Prescription support hose can often provide greater relief than what can be purchased retail.
  • Surgery is rarely needed and is not recommended until six months postpartum. Varicose veins typically improve on their own once baby is born.