Pregnant women can develop bluish-purple veins in the legs that are swollen and distended. These are varicose veins that usually occur in the legs, but they can also appear in the vaginal area and the buttocks.
Varicose veins develop because of increased blood pressure in the veins. The blood moves towards the heart through veins that have one-way valves. When these one-way valves become damaged or weakened, blood can collect in the veins. When the blood does not flow in the right direction, it can pool inside the vein.
What Causes Varicose Veins During Pregnancy?
Pregnant women develop varicose veins because the growing baby and the uterus put pressure on the inferior vena cava (the large vein that transports blood from the feet and legs to the heart).
Hormonal changes during pregnancy also make veins more fragile. Pregnant women have high progesterone levels that cause vein walls to relax and dilate, contributing to varicose veins.
The weak veins stretch more in order to accommodate the increase in blood volume and pooling, which is a result of the compression of the inferior vena cava. When they stretch too much, veins could rupture, resulting in bruises and hemorrhages under the skin.
Varicose veins are itchy and uncomfortable and are usually experienced by pregnant women in their second and third trimesters.
They often show signs of improvement after giving birth since the uterus is no longer putting pressure on the inferior vena cava. Varicose veins usually disappear three months or up until a year after giving birth.
How to Avoid Varicose Veins Naturally During Pregnancy
Because of the growing fetus and uterus during pregnancy, they press on the large veins in the thighs, causing restrictions on blood flow. Blood begins pooling under the compressed areas and the veins in the legs stretch and dilate. When the veins of the legs swell during pregnancy, women can get varicose veins.
In order to prevent varicose veins, it is ideal to stay within the recommended weight range during each pregnancy stage. When you have excess weight, this will place more stress and pressure on your legs.
It is best to stick to a high-fiber and low-salt diet. The sodium in salt can cause water retention in your blood. This will lead to added pressure on your blood vessels and can restrict blood circulation.
By minimizing your intake of salt, there is a lower chance of developing varicose veins.
Avoid standing or sitting in the same position for long periods of time. Take frequent breaks in order to change your position. When you are seated, avoid crossing your legs or ankles because this will make it even harder for the blood to keep on flowing.
Here are some more tips for varicose veins prevention:
Avoid wearing high heels. Choose lower-heel or flat shoes because they will work out your calf muscles, promoting healthy circulation.
Get regular exercise. By exercising regularly, you can improve circulation in your legs and keep your blood pumping. This will help prevent blood from pooling and tone your muscles, which could reduce your chances of developing them.
Exercise your leg muscles so that you can help push blood to the heart. You can try walking and doing leg lifts, lunges or standing calf raises. When you are seated, rotate the ankles of your feet in both directions and make small circles. Try extending your legs, and pointing and flexing your feet.
Walking and running are safe exercises you can do while pregnant.
Try wearing compression socks to help relieve symptoms and improve circulation. Compression socks are designed to help to prevent the backup of blood flow that can lead to the development of varicose veins. These support socks squeeze the veins in order to prevent blood from pooling in your lower legs.
It is best to wear them in the morning when you wake up because your legs are at their least swollen during this time. Take them off before sleeping at night. It is also recommended that you put on compression socks when you are seated for a long time (such as a plane ride) or standing for extended periods of time.
If you are looking for the best compression socks, try these brands.
Elevate your legs to improve circulation. When you are seated, prop up your legs by using a footrest or a footstool or ottoman at home. By elevating your feet, you can prevent blood from pooling in the tissues of your legs.
Lie on your back on a bed with your feet propped up on pillows to stimulate blood to flow back to the heart. It is best to elevate your legs around 6 to 12 inches above heart level.
Sleep on your left side
By sleeping on your left side, you can alleviate the pressure on the inferior vena cava, which is situated on the right side of your body. This minimizes the risk of blood building up in the legs and causing varicose veins.
If you are not comfortable sleeping on one side, you can place a pillow between your legs and another pillow behind your back.
You can purchase a body-length pregnancy pillow that can alleviate back pain and serve as a breastfeeding pillow when your baby is born.
When To See A Doctor For Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are usually harmless but keep an eye out when they become painful or when the veins feel warm and hard. If you notice that the skin over the varicose vein turns red, it is time to consult with a doctor.
Get medical attention as well if you develop a rash on your ankle or leg, or if you notice that the skin on your leg or thigh thickens or changes color. Inflammation and fever are other symptoms that also deserve to get medical attention.
Varicose veins are rarely harmful and they usually disappear on their own after you give birth. You should inform your doctor if varicose veins do not resolve on their own within several months after giving birth.
Consult with a vein specialist or your gynaecologist if you are looking for vein treatment options that can diminish or eliminate their appearance after pregnancy.
By following the tips and home remedies above, you can minimize the swelling and reduce the discomfort caused by varicose veins.
Original Publisher: theAsianparent