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.
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.
The good part 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.
- 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 for the best pregnancy exercises and make them a part of your daily routine.
- Do not cross your legs while sitting. It generates high blood pressure in the legs.
- 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.
- Reduce sodium content to minimize swelling of the veins.
- Avoid junk and inflammatory foods.
- Elevate your legs periodically to improve blood circulation.
- Wear maternity support hosiery. They gently compress the leg muscles and squeeze the leg muscles to push the blood back to the heart.
- Give up smoking. This might seem to be obvious but if you haven’t given up 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.
- Acupuncture or Shiatsu may be able to relieve the symptoms of circulatory problems and improve 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 that may help relieve the symptoms.
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 after pregnancy. They are formed because of the stretched skin. Varicose veins are different because it is the veins that are affected, not the skin.
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It is generally not advisable to receive treatment for varicose veins during pregnancy that involves incisions or injections, however, notify your gynecologist immediately if your varicose veins and surrounding areas become warm, red, itchy, painful or begin to bleed.
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