Pregnancy will undoubtedly be one of the best times of your life and one of the hardest for your legs. For many women, pregnancy will introduce them to their first bout of varicose veins. There is a clear connection between having a baby and the thick, purple, bulging veins that pop up out of the blue. To understand why women tend to get varicose veins while experiencing the wonders of childbirth, you need to understand more about what they are and how they develop.
What are Varicose Veins?
Simply put, varicose veins are blood vessels engorged with blood. The blood gives them that blue, purple or red color you see under the skin usually on your legs. They come with little or no pain for most people, but they can make your legs feel heavy, restless and achy. The discomfort may get worse towards the end of the day when you are tired.
Veins transport blood to the heart for oxygenation, which is not an easy task when you consider the forces of gravity at play. To make blood movement possible, the veins have valves built into the walls that open and close. As the muscles in the vein contract, they push the blood upwards and the valves open. When the muscle relaxes the valves close to trap the blood and keep it from flowing back.
With varicose veins, one or more valves fail to close completely. This allows some blood to move towards the feet, causing the vein to become engorged. That is a varicose vein and the focus of vein treatments like laser ablation, Venefit or NonThermal Vein Treatment such as Venaseal.
Does Pregnancy Cause Varicose Veins?
The body goes through many changes during pregnancy. You gain weight, for example. That puts extra pressure on the veins and causes damage to the valves. There is also extra blood coursing through the veins as the body works to support two lives, instead of just one.
The hormone progesterone increases during pregnancy, too. This relaxes the blood vessels, so the veins become more elastic and the valves gap. The combination of factors escalates around week 29 and varicose veins begin to pop up in the legs, vulva and even around the rectum as hemorrhoids.
The good news is that the new veins will improve after delivery. Nonetheless, damage to the veins during pregnancy can result in irreversible changes. Read on to read about steps you can take to mitigate the damage.
How to Avoid Varicose Veins During Pregnancy?
The truth is you may not be able to avoid varicose veins completely when you are pregnant, but there are steps you can take to minimize them.
Put your feet up when you can – This takes some of the pressure off your legs and veins. Avoid crossing your legs at the ankles when they are elevated. Instead, flex and wiggle your feet to improve the blood flow.
Stay active – Being pregnant does not mean you have to sit around. Ask your doctor what exercise is safe for you. For most women, taking one or two walks a day is appropriate. You can look into other forms of exercise, too, like a yoga class designed for pregnant women. The key is to stay as active as possible with your doctor’s permission.
Dress smart – Keep your clothes loose and comfortable. Make sure nothing binds or chafes. Be smart about your footwear, too. Avoid tight fitting shoes and high heals that put additional strain on your legs. Consider investing in support hose to give your legs a little more help. Support hose counteracts the pressure put on your legs as the baby grows and your belly expands.
If you do find yourself with a beautiful baby and a few unwanted veins, know that there are treatments available to improve the look and feel of your legs.
Venous disease is a serious issue and should be evaluated by a vascular expert. If you are pregnant and notice new varicose or spider veins, call Northwest Vein to learn more or schedule a free evaluation.