Varicose veins are very common in pregnant women. During pregnancy, the blood volume increases, and the rate at which blood flows decreases. Varicose veins happen when uterus applies pressure on the veins (inferior vena cava) that carries blood back to the heart.
Due to this increase in pressure on the veins of the legs, they appear enlarged and swollen. These enlarged twisted veins that bulge over the skin surface are known as varicose veins.
Varicose veins are enlarged veins that commonly occur in legs. During pregnancy, they can also appear on the buttocks and vaginal area. Another reason for varicose veins in pregnant can be a hormonal imbalance. Progestin level increases which dilate or open the veins. Sometimes they can be due to your family history. Varicose veins can be itchy, uncomfortable, or painful.
Also, the hormonal changes during pregnancy play a crucial role in the formation of varicose veins when you are pregnant. The hormones make the walls of the extra smooth that causes difficulty in the upward blood circulation. As a result, the backpressure on the veins increases and causes their dilation. Thus blood starts pooling in the veins and the valves become weaker or damaged.
The only good part about varicose veins is they go away within three months to a year after giving birth. Treating varicose veins during pregnancy is not an exact science, but there are some things you can do to help.
There are some preventive measures and natural remedies to treat varicose veins during pregnancy.
- Avoid sitting or standing for a long duration during pregnancy. Make sure to take breaks or change postures.
- Wear flats or low heels to foster healthy blood circulation. High heels may create a problem for calf muscles.
- Wear clothing that is loose and comfortable. Avoid tight belt and socks with elastic tops.
- Talk to your doctor (gynecologist) regarding the best pregnancy exercises. Regularly perform exercises for varicose veins and make them a part of your daily routine.
- Do not cross your legs while sitting. It generates high blood pressure in the legs and aggravates varicose veins.
- Sleep on your left side to keep the pressure off the inferior vena cava.
- Drink a lot of water and eat fiber-rich foods to avoid constipation. Doing so will prevent you from putting excess strain on the lower body while passing stools.
- Reduce sodium content to minimize swelling of the varicose veins.
- Avoid junk and inflammatory foods. Such foods can increase in your heaviness due to varicose veins.
- Increase the consumption of vitamin C. Vitamin C repairs the connective tissues and prevent the damaging of blood vessels. Thus, vitamin C will reduce the dull ache and swelling of varicose veins.
- Elevate your legs periodically to improve blood circulation. Leg elevating exercises are really helpful in minimizing the pressure on the varicose veins.
- Wear maternity support hosiery. These are also known as compression stockings for pregnancy. Compression stockings gently press the leg muscles and squeeze them to push the blood back to the heart.
- Give up smoking. This might seem to be obvious. But if you haven’t given up smoking yet, remember, it is harmful to you as well as your baby. Smoking affects blood circulation and varicose veins are just one of many risks associated with smoking.
- Acupuncture or Shiatsu may be able to relieve the symptoms of circulatory problems such as varicose veins and boost the blood flow.
- Aromatherapy or massage is another way to get relief from varicose veins’ discomfort. Speak to doctor or aromatherapy specialist about pregnancy-safe essential oils for varicose veins that may help relieve the symptoms.
Also Read: Stages Of Varicose Veins
What is the difference between stretch marks and varicose veins?
Stretch marks are thin pink-purple lines on the surface of the skin which usually pop-up on your stomach during or after pregnancy. Stretch marks form because of the stretching of the skin. Whereas varicose veins are totally different from stretch marks. In varicose veins, it is the veins that are affected and swollen, not the skin.
It is generally not advisable to receive treatment for varicose veins during pregnancy that involves incisions or injections. However, reach out to your gynecologist immediately if your varicose veins and surrounding areas become warm, red, itchy, painful, or begin to bleed. Do not delay in seeking medical help for varicose veins as they can get severe over a period of time if you leave them untreated. Thus, be more active and consult your doctor for the best-suited treatment for your condition of varicose veins. (Also Read: What happens if varicose veins are left untreated?)
Laser Treatment For Varicose Veins
Nowadays, laser treatment is the most advanced and safest procedure to cure varicose veins. So, if your doctor advises undergoing laser treatment, fret not. It is the minimally invasive treatment for varicose veins that does not require any cuts or incisions. Thus, there is no need of stitches and bandaging after the laser treatment. Also, it is a daycare procedure, i.e the patient can go back home on the same day. The success rate for the laser treatment is as high as 100%.